Supply chain issues have created an alcohol shortage as holidays approach

Planning to ring in the new year with some bubbly?  Better stock up now.
Planning to ring in the new year with some bubbly? Better stock up now.
Published: Oct. 23, 2021 at 4:56 PM CDT
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DALLAS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - Planning to ring in the new year with some bubbly?  Better stock up now.

Bottles of everything from champagne to whiskey to tequila are flying off the shelves, and not just because of demand.

“This morning when I got here, there were 50 people waiting in line, just to see what we had coming in this morning,” said Jake Duke, regional manager at Spec’s. “We put it out for sale, and they’re gone by the end of the day.”

Experts said there are several factors contributing to the alcohol shortage, including transportation.

“The distilled spirits industry is just like everyone else in America. We’re facing the same challenges with regard to being able to import products,” said David Ozgo, chief economist with the Distilled Spirits Council. “Clearly, right now there’s a shortage of containers. Space on container ships is very, very short.”

That’s a problem for an industry that imports 40% of its products.

Even the smaller, local distilleries that are otherwise relatively immune to the shortage are facing some challenges.

“As a smaller, local facility, we’ve been really fortunate that we’re not experiencing some of the shortages that the larger brands are,” said Ale Ochoa with TX Whiskey. “Our biggest shortage that we’re seeing is steel for our barrel barn that we need to age all of our barrels in.”

But it’s not just the alcohol but the bottles themselves.

“Glass is hard to get, and in turn, if we do everything in plastic, we have to order that out,” said Duke.

He said there’s also a shortage of the aluminum needed to make the caps, and the glue to affix the labels. As a result, they’re limiting many products to one bottle per customer.

Duke said Spec’s intake is down about 25% since before COVID-19, but sales are up about 15%.

And with the industry’s busiest time of year about to hit, experts said you may have to get creative.

“Check a couple of different liquor stores or be prepared to go back to your regular liquor store on several occasions if there’s a particular bottle you want, but also certainly be flexible,” said Ozgo.

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