A good article on maddeningly inconsistent spirits pricing

Here in Washington state where I live, we have the highest liquor prices in the country, generally speaking. A huge chunk of the price of a bottle are state-imposed taxes, unambiguously the highest in the country. However, if you look at the price of a bottle on the shelf at a store here, it’s almost always pre-tax. And the price of that bottle is still quite a bit higher than I can find it on the shelves in other states, most notably nearby California or Oregon. Out-the-door costs of a typical bottle here are nearly double what I would pay for it from an online source.

Along those lines, I came across this excellent post on the K&L blog. If you’re at all interested in the business side of the liquor industry–how spirits flow from the distiller to you, and how prices are set–this is a must-read. At the end it becomes a bit of a rah-rah for Anchor Distilling’s import business, but I’m okay with that. (They import some of my favorite brands, including Luxardo and Tempus Fugit)

Highlighted quote from the post:

While you all have a choice as to which retailers you purchase from and the freedom to look around for the best price, we as retailers do not. We have one choice and one choice only. If we don’t like the price being offered for Lagavulin 16 we can choose either to buy it and be unhappy, or choose not to buy it and explain to our customers why. I can only purchase Buffalo Trace whiskies from their one chosen California distributor. I can only buy Diageo products from their one chosen California distributor.

1 thought on “A good article on maddeningly inconsistent spirits pricing

  1. You have my sympathy. As your neighbor to the south (oregon) I can say that watching Washington struggle through the pains of deregulation has been both sobering (heh) and informative. I've gained a new appreciation for the benefits of centralized distribution. We have a similar problem in the form of single channel but since it's government run the pricing is considerably less predatory. When people start to tout the benefits of letting grocery stores carry hard liquor I can only shudder when I think what kind of an impact that is going to have on the smaller retailers and especially on the smaller producers who don't have the kind of volume necessary to fight for self space at a krogers or albertsons. For an example Burnside Bourbon is currently going for $25.95 (on sale) in oregon and across the river at Vancouver's Total Wine the same bottle runs $44.95

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