Blame Putin for RTD Shortage

Blame Putin for RTD Shortage

International bourbon woes hitting students where it hurts

If you’ve noticed getting your hands on Diesels or Billy Mavs has been harder recently, you’re not alone, and you’re not wrong. International shortages of bourbon have been causing prices to spike. While the spirit is adored by middle-aged men and those who are middle-aged men at heart, bourbon also forms the heart and soul of RTDs such as Billy Mavs, Woodstocks, Diesels and Cody’s. They’ve been getting a lot harder to find, though, and there’s a couple of key reasons for that. 

Let’s start with the stuff in the can. Bourbon’s been getting hard to find recently, for a few reasons. For one, demand is up: the bourbon industry sold $7.5 billion of booze last year, up almost 10% from the year before. Soaring demand has combined with labour shortages and high prices for shipping, meaning that distillers are prioritising the higher-end stuff that gives them more bang for their buck, and not the dregs that get mixed into RTDs. Simone Rosentreter, a spokesperson for Lion (the brewer), told Stuff that their wholesale bourbon shipments have been “patchy,” and as a result they’ve had to pause manufacturing of Billy Mavs temporarily. Diesels have been cut off the menu completely, and will be “unavailable until further notice.” Jack Daniel’s hasn’t faced quite the same issues, as they’re not legally a bourbon, but a Tennessee whiskey. They’re kind of like close cousins (and we’re talking Tennessee close). 

As well as a lack of bourbon, we’ve also been short of fizz. While Aotearoa pumps millions of tonnes of CO2 into the air, our supply of food-grade CO2 (ironically, made as a fossil fuel byproduct) has been dropping dramatically. Once supplied by the Marsden Point oil refinery (which shut down in February) our only local source of bubbly is the Kapuni gas field in Taranaki – and they’ve just slowed production for winter maintenance. With imports from the nearest facilities (in Malaysia) being cripplingly expensive, this has meant rationing and chaos as the likes of brewers, cheesemakers and chicken sausage factories duke it out for our precious last tanks of carbon dioxide. 

As if these clusterfucks weren’t enough, Aotearoa’s alcohol tax (added on top of GST) was hiked on July 1 by a whopping 6.9%. Nice, but not nice. This means that for your average Billy Mav drinker, almost half of the $2 you pay per can goes straight to the taxman. It’s almost as if New Zealand has a problematic drinking culture that the government is trying to remedy.

All of this means one thing: from Super Liquor to New World, alcohol prices have started going up. One keen eyed breatha mourned the increase in price of their favourite Smirnoff Double Blacks: “It’s gone up at least an extra $5, it used to work out at like, $2 per 7% drink. Now it’s more like $2.50.” It’s good to know that those STATS110 and 115 papers aren’t going to waste on the Dunedin population. But not all is lost. A liquor store manager gave Critic Te Arohi a pro-tip: “We haven’t had issues with the whiskey hybrids, so things like Jack Daniel’s are way easier to source and sell, if you’re desperate.” If you’re desperate, indeed.

This article first appeared in Issue 16, 2022.
Posted 5:56pm Monday 25th July 2022 by Ruby Werry.