Panic Mode

My worst fears have been realized.

I just received a press package from Knob Creek and tore off the brown paper wrapper with some anticipation, only to be greeted with a foreboding message on the lid of the box: "Thanks for nothing."

"My god!" I thought, "What have I done to rankle the folks at the distillery?"

I lifted the box top to expose a terrifying sight that rivals even reading the current performance of my IRA: an empty bottle of Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon.

What kind of sadist would send me such a thing?

It gets worse. With the package comes an apologetic missive from Knob Creek president Bill Newlands. It seems the popularity of this Bourbon, created by Jim Beam's grandson Booker Noe, has been so vast that the distillery is having a hard time keeping up with customer demand. The next batch of the 100-proof whiskey, aged the full nine years, won't be available until November. And Knob Creek won't compromise its quality by bottling anything a few months shy of its age of majority. In other words, we can expect stock depletions at the package store shelf.

Have I done my job too well? Could all my years of championing the amber elixir of the Bluegrass State have been repaid with this: a shortage of one of its finest whiskies?  Might the same fate befall Maker's Mark? Wild Turkey? Woodford Reserve? Evan Williams? Eagle Rare?

The blood chills. The eyes glaze over.

I've weathered shortages before. When paper clips were in short supply a few decades ago, I learned to use a stapler. When an oil embargo brought serpentine lines at the pump, I carpooled. I even remembered how to walk. But this is different. What can you do to replace Bourbon?

Wait. This is no time to panic. You could all start conserving. Resist the urge to hoard. Next time you feel like a Knob Creek, instead have a big tall glass of grain alcohol mixed with a few drops of brown food dye. Close your eyes and imagine hints of maple, vanilla and orange peel. Now say to yourself: "I can wait 'til November. It's a for good cause."

And if you happen to be in a liquor store and see me grabbing the last bottle of Knob from the shelf, do not be alarmed. I'm doing it in the name of research.

"Jack,As you know, I have similar passion for excellent, dark, aged rum. But did I go full-blown batshit crazy about the shortage of Zacapa when Diageo bought it? No. And I commend you for holding it together. Of course, since you are a man of diverse tastes, you can salve the wound with, oh, say, anything that is 80 proof!All the best, AB" —June 24, 2009 17:43 PM
"I agree on the Zacapa issue. Seems to me that owning such a brand comes with the responsibility to make it available. Maybe a little batshit crazy is in order. Or at least a very stern letter-writing campaign." —June 25, 2009 11:13 AM