The Bourbon Barrel Crisis doesn’t have much to do with the toy industry other than we are an industry that likes to drink. Alcohol is an economic and social lubricant, so its popularity is unsurprising. And many of our members like Bourbon – hence, the somewhat strained connection.
But I like Bourbon and wanted to write about a coming crisis for Bourbon lovers. As Bloomberg News puts it,
In the coming years, the bourbon supply chain could be under threat, due to a shortage of the specific type of wood used in the barrels made for aging the liquor.“The White Oak Shortage That Could Ruin the Bourbon Industry,” Bloomberg news, April 28,2023
White Oak is the wood of choice for aging Bourbon and is in decline. According to an article in Whiskey Raiders, the next generation of oak trees are 77% less than the last generation. There is no other wood that is appropriate for Bourbon. Hence, the challenge.
It appears that the problem can be resolved with a great deal of work. For example, I checked out the Bourbon industry’s White Oak Initiative. However, when I clicked on it, it took me to a page that said, “Hmm. We’re having trouble finding that site.” That doesn’t sound good for the White Oak Initiative.
All of this reminds me of a story told to me by the late Reuben Klamer (Reuben is the inventor of the Game of Life and many other toys). His father used to be a barrel salesman. He would buy jelly barrels from the Smucker family (yes, those Smuckers) and resell them to Scotch distillers in Scotland. Jelly barrels were the preferred barrel for aging Scotch.
I have never met anyone else who claimed to be a jelly barrel salesman or the son of a jelly barrel salesman. If you have, please let me know.