(“We’re at the mercy of the supply chain,” said the CFO of Brown-Forman, the maker of Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve.)

Driving around for hours, stopping at multiple stores, competing with retailers and private consumers for product: That has been the reality this summer for Hunter Thurston, the liquor buyer and bartender at The Crunkleton in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

A once straightforward process of driving down the street to pick up a liquor order has ballooned into trekking all across Mecklenburg county to secure a piecemeal assortment of spirits — the tail end of a procurement process that is suffering from demand whiplash.

“The turnaround time used to be anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, now it’s been almost 48 hours,” Thurston said. “If you’re a small business, big business, whatever it is … you place your liquor order, you got to hope that everything is in stock, and that the system is updated.”

The issue has persisted since the end of June, with liquor shortages impacting premium, mid-shelf and lower-tier products alike, he said. 

Bars and restaurants throughout the state have struggled to fill shelves with alcohol as customers ventured back out after COVID-19 mandates were lifted, just in time to start the summer season. And the heightened demand is straining supply…

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