How Today’s Bars Source Their Patrons’ Favorite Bourbons

Raise a glass to America’s only native beverage, bourbon, a whiskey made from corn and aged in oak barrels. The complex yet smooth and approachable flavor of bourbon makes it quite a versatile drink that can be sipped on rocks or used as a base in cocktails. Today, bourbon enjoys wild popularity among America’s whiskey lovers, with recent statistics revealing bourbon sales in the country have grown 5.1% per year on average between 2018 and 2023. What are some of your favorite bourbons?

With such a surge in demand, it’s no wonder that savvy bar and restaurant owners view the drink as a major crowd-pleaser that occupies the top spot on their stock purchases. However, in the current highly competitive marketplace, buying favorite bourbons for your regular and new guests requires a lot of insight and forethought to ensure you satisfy the taste preferences of each of your guests. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide to making informed bourbon purchases whether you are a beginner or a seasoned bartender.

The Rise of Bourbon and the Importance of Sourcing

Bourbon came to be in the 18th century. Although it can be distilled anywhere in the United States, the drink is strongly associated with the American South, specifically the Kentucky area. In fact, Kentuckians drink more than twice as much bourbon as people in other states! For many residents, bourbon is simply a part of their culture, offering a unique way to connect with their heritage.

Over the past 15 years, dozens of bourbon distilleries have sprung up across the United States, underscoring the drink’s popularity among the younger generation. The rising popularity of bourbon can be attributed to several factors. For starters, it is a superb liquor enjoyed by connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. Secondly, a bottle of bourbon won’t break the bank, making it a popular option for those who want to treat themselves to a drink but are on a budget.

Sourcing bourbon is critical to running a successful bar or club, as it can directly impact customer satisfaction, profitability, and even the establishment’s reputation. In recent times, bourbon’s demand has witnessed an interesting trend, where a substantial number of consumers seek high-quality, rare, and unique bottles over standard options. As a result, bars and clubs that can offer a strong bourbon selection have a distinct competitive advantage over those that can’t. 

The Process of Sourcing Bourbon for Bars and Clubs

The following are the typical steps to order top-notch bourbon for your establishment: 

  • Draw a budget: The first step in this process is determining how much you’re willing to spend. That way, you can limit your options and ensure you don’t overspend. 
  • Research brands: Next, research the various bourbon brands available. There is a wide variety of bourbons out there, and they all have their characteristics and prices. If you take time to learn about the many options in your region, you can make a more informed purchasing decision. 
  • Determine consumer preferences: After that, you need to consider the bourbon types your consumers like and which ones are likely to sell the best. Once you narrow your selection, you can contact regional distributors to inquire about cost, shipping, and availability. It’s also a good idea to check with them about any deals or specials they may offer.
  • Make your order: Once you decide on a distributor, the next step is to place an order with them. Ordering a wide selection of bourbons will allow you to cater to your clientele’s tastes. When your bourbon arrives, ensure you advertise it to your consumers. For instance, you can make and sell limited-edition drinks or host tastings to attract more customers.

Where Do Bars Source Their Favorite Bourbons?

Bars typically rely on three main sources to replenish their supply of bourbon. These include:

  • Local distributors: Most bars get their bourbon through local distributors. This method offers several benefits compared to other options. Local distributors can deliver a variety of bourbons at lower costs. Many of these wholesalers also provide expert advice on drink selection which can enrich your purchase list.
  • Local distilleries: Secondly, bars can also source bourbon by partnering with local distilleries. This is especially useful when a bar is looking for rare, one-of-a-kind bourbons. 
  • Online purchases: As internet merchants continue to grow, some bars may purchase their bourbons from websites dedicated to distributing alcoholic beverages. This can make it easier for bars to stock their shelves with bourbons from around the world.

The Importance of Ethical and Sustainable Sourcing

Bourbon is distilled from grains grown on farms, such as maize, rye, and barley. Sustainable bourbon sourcing techniques aim to reduce the environmental impact of bourbon production by limiting the use of harmful pesticides, conserving water resources, and promoting healthy soil. 

Ethically and sustainably sourced products are becoming more appealing to consumers since they allow them to express their values and views via their purchases. Using sustainable methods to source bourbon, clubs can appeal to a rising market of customers willing to pay more for ethically and sustainably produced goods.

Tips for Sourcing Ethical and Sustainable Spirits for Your Bar

Here are some tips for sourcing ethical and sustainable spirits for your bar.

  • Choose brands that commit to responsible manufacturing and sourcing methods.
  • Check to see if a product has any certifications that show it was created ethically or supplied in an environmentally responsible manner.
  • Consider local distributors, as they frequently involve less transit, which lowers their carbon footprint.
  • Ask your suppliers about their sustainability methods.

Why It’s Crucial to Understand What Your Customers Taste and Preferences

To generate more leads and sales, you must have a deeper understanding of your patrons’ palates. By learning about their needs, you can better serve your clientele, meet their expectations, and enhance their overall experience. 

Here are a few insightful tips to help you stay ahead of the game when researching your patrons’ palates:

1. Gather Intel On Your Patrons’ Favorite Bourbons

Here are some ways to gather intel on your patrons’ favorite bourbons:

  • Ask them: Seems a little obvious, doesn’t it? Asking clients about their preferred bourbons is a simple yet effective method of gathering information. You can ask them at your establishment, use feedback forms or questionnaires, or even post a poll on social media.
  • Social media: Speaking of social media, people frequently report their drinking habits and favorite watering holes on social media. Keep an eye on what people say about your bar on social media, especially if they mention their favorite bourbons. 
  • Keep track of popular orders: Track which bourbons your patrons order most by monitoring sales data or keeping a manual log. 

2. Analyzing the Data to Uncover Patterns And Trends

Once you gather the data, you need to analyze it to determine whether there are patterns and trends. Try to determine which bourbons are most popular and whether particular bourbons are ordered more frequently at specific times of the day. Also, determine whether some seasonal trends are affecting customer preferences. 

Use what you learn to guide your bourbon selection and marketing campaigns. For instance, if you find that certain bourbons are ordered more at specific times of the day, you could capitalize on this by introducing happy hours or other specials.

Why Sourcing Your Customers’ Favorite Bourbons Matters

Customer happiness, loyalty, and revenue can all take a hit if a bar or club doesn’t provide the bottles their regulars want. If a bar or club doesn’t have a customer’s favorite bourbons, they will likely look elsewhere. To prevent this, you need to stock adequate bottles of your customer’s favorite drinks. Availing the much-in-demand bourbons translates to more sales and better ROI. Customers are more inclined to order and spend money on a beverage they have tried and enjoyed before, which is good news for the establishment’s bottom line. 

Bourbon FAQs: What You Need to Know

Explore some of these FAQs and answers about your favorite bourbons to learn even more about this iconic American spirit.

What Is Bourbon, And What Makes It Unique?

Bourbon is an American whiskey that is typically produced from a corn mash. Bourbon’s unique flavor comes from its long aging process, which sets it apart from other types of whiskey. The American Bourbon Association defines bourbon as whiskey that is distilled from a mash consisting of at least 51% corn. This corn is the source of its signature sweetness. In addition, bourbon can’t have any artificial flavors or colors and must age in freshly charred oak barrels. 

How Are Your Favorite Bourbons Made, and What Are the Key Ingredients?

A bourbon mash must contain at least 51% corn, but a typical mash will have 70% corn, 15% rye, and 15% malted barley. To make American straight bourbon whisky, this mash must be fermented and then aged for 2-10 years in new oak barrels. If it is aged for less than four years, there must be an age statement on the bottle telling consumers how long it was aged.

What Are the Different Types of Bourbons and Their Flavor Profiles?

There are six types of bourbons. These include: 

  • Single barrel: These bourbon bottles are from a single barrel and have not been mixed with other bourbons or spirits. Since the number of pieces of wood, the char in the barrel, and the conditions under which a barrel was matured can all vary, the flavor of a single barrel of bourbon from the same brand can vary from bottle to bottle.
  • Cask strength: These are drawn directly from the barrel, and the flavor profile is typically characterized by a predominant presence of spices and hints of burn and char from the barrel.
  • Wheated: Wheat is used as a secondary ingredient in the mash bill. As a result, the flavor is less flowery, sour, and peppery.
  • High rye: In most cases, rye accounts for no more than 10% of a bourbon’s mash bill, although some brands intentionally exceed that threshold to achieve a stronger, spicier flavor.
  • High corn: According to regulations, bourbon must contain at least 51% corn. But some go beyond this. Sweetness is a hallmark of these particular bourbons.
  • Small batch: It is a bourbon made by blending several carefully selected barrels.

Elevate Your Bar’s Spirit Game

The growing popularity of bourbon makes it a valuable addition to any bar or club looking to enhance its spirits selection. An impressive variety of bourbons can greatly impact the success of a night for patrons. When bars and clubs offer customers their favorite bourbons, they are more likely to return and even recommend the establishment to others. Thus, providing a range of quality bourbons can be a strategic way for bars to improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and word-of-mouth promotion.

Sample Your Favorite Bourbons at a Distillery Near You

Enjoyed learning about bourbon? It’s now time you sampled what local distilleries have to offer. Whether you’re a seasoned bourbon drinker or just starting to explore the world of whiskey, DistilleryNearby offers an opportunity to discover new and exciting flavors and deepen your appreciation for this timeless American drink at a distillery near you

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