Global Bourbon Shortage Affecting RTDs

Caused by a combination of Covid-19 related shipping issues and the increase in popularity of spirits throughout the world, a global shortage of bourbon has led to a lack of cheap RTDs in New Zealand.

Spirits New Zealand chief executive Robert Brewer explained that the shortage had mainly affected the supply of bourbon-based RTDs manufactured in New Zealand, because wholesale manufacture was where the supply shortage was most keenly felt. Bottled bourbon remained available because American producers had their own supply lines to Australia and New Zealand, he said.

But bourbon-based RTDs, which last year made up 38 percent of the organisation’s members’ sales, had not been on shop shelves. Lion Brewery was forced to temporarily stop production of locally produced RTDs Billy Maverick and Diesel, due to the lack of bourbon coming into New Zealand.

Alcohol Health Watch spokesperson Nicki Jackson said bourbon-based RTDs were a both a dangerous and profit-making product for major alcohol companies.

Most countries in the OECD such as Australia, Britain, Canada, and the US taxed high-alcohol RTDs at or above the tax rate of spirits, she said. New Zealand does not, which makes them a very profitable product for the major liquor companies, she said.