It doesn’t really surprise me that the big whiskey corporations are doing such a good job of pivoting to the demand for higher quality hooch.* They have the preexisting capital investment, a vested interest in controlling a changing market, and brand identity. Microdistillers have a rough road because of the sheer time it takes for good whiskey to develop and the high investment in purchasing a bottle, unlike microbrewers who can move product quickly and with a palatable economic commitment from a curious consumer. I know I’m far more inclined to take a shot on a $10 4-pack of something than spend $35 on a bottle of a new whiskey that I’m stuck with if I think it mediocre.
What I don’t understand is why more corporate behemoths don’t act this way. Two quick examples come to mind. First is the brewing industry, where the industrial lager makers response to microbrews has been to try and corner the market through legal shenanigans and through making bad fake microbrews like Blue Moon. The second is the oil industry, which instead of deciding to make huge profits off wind and solar by cornering those markets and establishing monopolies early on is instead fighting tooth and nail to kill anything that competes with their core business. This seems incredibly short-sighted to me and reeks of decisions made upon the principle of hating hippies rather than smart business practices.
* The exception to this rule very much seems to be in gin, where we are seeing a large number of very high-quality new products coming on the market.