More bar and restaurant operators are seeking proprietary whiskey they can call their own, according to an article in the New York Times. Barrels can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the whiskey and the distillery, but many bar owners are willing to pay to have a unique expression.
Bourbon makers including Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses and Brown-Forman are selling barrels to bars. On-premise sales of whiskey by the barrel have surged for Heaven Hill in the past four or five years. The company has sold full barrels to 109 bars in 27 states and three international markets in the past year; 45 of those businesses bought multiple barrels or were reordering.
Heaven Hill has had a barrel program for a decade, but in the beginning only big retailers were interested in it. While 98% of its barrel buyers were stores, today about 25% of purchases are made by bars. The on-premise customers select a barrel from the rick house, Heaven Hill bottles it for the bar, printing the bar’s name on the label as proof of ownership.
The bars will typically promote their “house barrel” on the menu, sometimes charging a little more for each glass, and many proudly display the empty barrels, which some display. Sometimes restaurants will go in on a barrel together to share the costs of a proprietary whiskey.
Read the full article here.