If you have developed an interest, love, or passion for bourbon, then you know the challenges of finding liquor stores in your local area with a sizeable and varied selection where you can purchase a bottle or two without spending your whole paycheck. Given the hysteria of demand for bourbon, finding a dependable bottle for the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) can leave you frustrated, let alone a “unicorn” bottle such as Pappy Van Winkle or a Russell’s Reserve 13-Year-Old Single Barrel that will send you into a spiral of insanity.
Despite the demand and the challenges of secondary pricing for the most-sought-out bottles, there are plenty of retail liquor stores across the country, such as in Palm Beach County of South Florida, which offer great bottles for reasonable prices.
While you can find a large selection of bourbon bottles at regional and national retail chains such as Total Wine and Liquor Barn, finding a local, independent store will give you a better chance of potential finding good bottle selections of bourbon based on the relationships you can potentially build at the latter.
Developing Relationships with Local Liquor Stores
The advantage of finding a local liquor store that has a great bourbon selection over a large, national retail chain comes from the relationships you can build with the owners, managers, and sales associates who may have a deep knowledge and passion for bourbon. Specifically, they know about certain bottles from distilleries that may not be as known within the marketplace, especially with barrel picks (also known as store picks).
If you can develop a relationship with some of the people that work at one liquor store or another, you can potentially receive access to an allocated supply of rare bottles that they may keep in the back and not upfront.
If you’re a regular and loyal customer, you will have a higher chance of obtaining a limited bottle of bourbon than someone who isn’t.
Tips to Find Local Liquor Stores
The best way to look for stores with great bourbon selections is to do the following steps:
Online Keyword Search
Go on a search engine such as Google or Bing (depending on your preference) or local search and crowd-sourced review websites such as Yelp to search for local liquor stores in your local area.
A second way to find local stores is through joining Facebook groups comprising bourbon enthusiasts with a focus on your respective local area, such as the one run by Palm Beach Bourbon Society. Many of these people share local liquor stores where they have found allocated bottles and provide the advice you won’t find on the Whiskey Advocate, other whiskey-focused publications, and whiskey YouTube Channels.
Know What Bourbon Bottles to Find
- When you visit the liquor stores in your local area, make sure you have decided what you want to find from your searches and advice from other bourbon enthusiasts.
- If the stores have a website, look at what they have available. If you have an idea of what these stores have, you can create an action plan.
- If you’re unsure what the store will have, come up with five (5) bottles you would like to consider for purchasing and see if the store has them for a reasonable price.
Over time, you will become acclimated to what these stores carry and what you want to keep an eye out for buying.