Winning the Lottery
Updated: Aug 18, 2019
While many bourbon and whiskey collectors have the luxury of purchasing bottles from small town liquor stores, grocery stores, gas stations, corner stores, and secondary markets others of us find it more challenging. Who are the "others" you ask? Why its those who dwell in the 18, Alcohol Beverage Control States (ABC) where all retail sales of alcohol are controlled by the state.
There are two main groups of ABC states which regulate differently. The first group of control states ABC allows private retail sales and regulates wholesale and distributor transactions and sales. The second group of ABC states is involved in all aspects of the industry controlling all sales and shipments. Yes, this even includes what is available for purchase, ownership of all liquor stores, and shipments into the state. Though this is a blessing and a curse at times, knowing you are getting a genuine product can go a long way as a collector, especially when you run across a rare or hard to find bottle. In these states special order items may be selected from a list and purchased through the stores. Unavailable products may at times be procured by working directly with an agent. Time lines are of no matter when trying to obtain these otherwise unavailable products so be patient and be prepared to order an entire case if necessary.
Through my bourbon hunting experiences I have discovered each store receives a slightly different inventory and at times may receive items they did not expect. Stopping at stores in areas of various regions and demographics will also get you a different selection. Yes, I go out of my way as a collector to pretty much check all stores I encounter period even making the occasional extended drive to one of the ABC premier stores as well. Still this does not make up for the bottles that simply will never make it to my home state, not for lack of inventory, but more for lack of anyone in the regulatory service seeking out the products and making them available. For this reason I constantly keep a watchful eye whenever I leave town for any unicorns I may encounter.
One way to ensure you have a fair chance at getting your hands on a unique or limited availability bottle of bourbon is to register for one of the ABC lottery drawings which will give you a chance to purchase special release or limited shipment. My first win was the posted photograph, a wonderful bottle of 1792 Sweet Wheat, Kentucky Straight Bourbon. One of my prized nectars and a true unicorn at the moment. I suppose you could say it was beginners luck as this was probably the 5th or 6th lottery I entered and the second bottle I won. Conveniently the bottle was shipped to a nearby store of my choice and I was given a generous time period to pick it up. Cost was not much higher than the suggested retail from the company and extremely reasonable for the juice.
As you can see it is a little more than half gone and now will be reserved for special occasions as I am unsure what I will do once it is empty.