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NZ suffers nationwide bourbon and RTD shortage

Bottom-shelf bourbons and RTDs, such as Woodstock, Cody’s, Billy Maverick and Diesel are most affected by the shortage. File photo / Greg...

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Bottom-shelf bourbons and RTDs, such as Woodstock, Cody’s, Billy Maverick and Diesel are most affected by the shortage. File photo / Greg Bowker

New Zealand’s biggest suppliers of alcohol say there is a nationwide bourbon shortage.

Retailers in Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch, and a spokesperson for Liquorland confirmed the shortages were indeed nationwide.

Bottom-shelf bourbons and RTDs, such as Woodstock, Cody’s, Billy Maverick and Diesel were most affected by the shortage.

Forrest Hill Liquor Centre manager Joel Lee says his store has been out of stock of most bourbon products for more than three months, and that he was told by suppliers to expect extra weeks or months of delays.

“I get 10-12 customers every day that get pissed because we still don’t have what they want. Some of them end up buying different brands or something else, but lots of them just leave to try other liquor stores,” he says.

Rod Emmerson's take.
Rod Emmerson’s take.

A spokesperson for Lion Co says increased global demand coupled with “patchy” shipments is to blame.

Supply chains across Aotearoa have been suffering in the Covid-related recession, and the spokesperson says bourbon has been hit harder due to increased global demand.

“The supply of bourbon has been tight worldwide for several years … As a result, we had a short period where we stopped production of Billy Maverick and Diesel.

“Billy Maverick is now back in production … Diesel is likely to be unavailable for a while longer. The bottled bourbon we distribute remains in stock.”

Woodstock and Cody’s supplier Asahi have been contacted for comment.

Figures from Statistics NZ show Kiwis’ demand for spirit-based drinks, and stronger alcohol has steadily risen over the years.

Statistics NZ reported the volume of spirit-based drinks (less than 23 per cent alcohol) available in Aotearoa rose 13.6 per cent to 84 million litres in 2021, while spirits (more than 23 per cent alcohol) rose 2.3 per cent to 16 million litres.

Spirits and spirit-based drinks made up 33.4 per cent of the total pure alcohol volume available to Kiwis in 2021, compared with 24.1 per cent in 2006.

This was in contrast to beer consumption, which has decreased since 2006 (from 67 per cent to 59 per cent) and wine consumption, which has stayed relatively stagnant (20 per cent).

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick’s proposed Sale and Supply of Alcohol Amendment Bill was drawn from Parliament’s ballot last week.

The bill proposes to decrease harm done by alcohol by removing the special appeals process for local alcohol policies and by removing alcohol sponsorships and advertisements from broadcast sports.

Swarbrick said alcohol is “a drug that’s the leading cause of preventable death and morbidity, globally and in Aotearoa”.

In 2007, about 800 deaths, or 5.4 per cent of all deaths under 80 years old, were attributed to alcohol.

“Its harm costs our country $7.85 billion, annually … the question before us is whether we want to deal with the evidence to sensibly reduce that harm.”



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