View Full Version : Trying to get decent whiskey in PA.

10-25-2009, 10:39
Yesterday I took a trip across the border and down to Maryland to see what a REAL liquor store looks like inside. I was blown away. The horrible state-controlled stores we have around here were nothing compared to what I walked into down in Maryland. Quadruple the selection and MUCH cheaper! That got me wondering- if one of the "state stores" (term us PA people use for our liquor stores) does not have something in stock or on their crappy website, how do I get it outside of going down to Maryland? I had asked once about special ordering and was told "We don't and can't do that." Is this true? Am I stuck having to go to Maryland everytime I want fairly priced whiskey and a good selection?

10-25-2009, 21:04
If the item is not in the PA system you will not be able to get it legally in PA. Even if the item is in the system they might mandate that you buy 6 or 12 of them to fill the SLO (Special Liquor Order). Now if what you want is at another store in the PLCB District (usually the county but not always) you can have it sent to your local store for free. That free part is going to change soon though as the PLCB is going to charge UPS shipping PLUS some, at this time, undetermined extra charge to send it to your local store. Just another way that the PLCB takes care of it's customers.

Personally, I mail order and drive into MD all the time. Screw the state store.

10-26-2009, 05:03
Dang. It just keeps getting better. I went to Maryland over the weekend and was blown away by the selection and prices they have. I heard it was illegal to go down there and buy stuff and bring it back here though. Is that true?

10-26-2009, 05:22
It is, but don't let that stop you. It is just as illegal for Marylanders to come up here and buy booze too but you don't see PA trying to stop that. In fact they put up 7 outlet stores on the border that offer better prices on some things to keep people from going to other states and to draw customers across the border. Of course, that means that they screw the rest of the state because you can't get those prices at your local state store and so have to pay more.

10-26-2009, 05:37
Awesome. I did buy a few items down there in Maryland and the lady sort of gave me a nasty look when I checked out. I guess that's why. So how do they catch you if you take stuff over the border then?

10-26-2009, 05:43
At one time they used to have PA Liquor Enforcement Officers park near the border and watch the out of state liquor stores and had plain clothes cops in the parking lots of said stores but that has stopped for the past few years. Now about the only way they can catch you is if you are stopped for some other violation and have an excessive amount of booze in your car. 2 or 3 botles I wouldn't worry about but 2 or 3 cases probably isn't going to be good.

10-26-2009, 05:48
Wow. So they actually spied on PA residents down in Maryland? Jeez, you know your state has a problem when they have to resort to that! One other thing that stood out to me was the fact that the people in the liquor store down there in Maryland were not only friendly, but they knew what they were talking about. The employees at the state stores around here usually act like I'm an interruption in their day. Better prices, better selection, and better people. Sounds like a winning combo for me!

10-26-2009, 07:40
Very illustrative and informative take on the contrast between the two systems..........

I am glad that I don't have to deal with "state stores" and I hope the idea does not start to look appealing....is there any data to show whether control states generate more alcohol tax revenue vs non-control? The cost of running state stores has to be considered.

MD is much lower on alcohol sales tax.

I wonder if DUI rates etc are statistically different (regarding the minumum purchase sizes etc).


State Total Fatalities Alcohol-Related Fatalities Number Percent

Pennsylvania 1,517 556 37%
Maryland 651 235 36%

Hmmm....Population, Maryland 5,633,597 - Jul 2008
Population, Pennsylvania 12,448,279 - Jul 2008

So, about double the population and about double the number but about the same rate...I don't see a clear distinction.

And for good measure....very open LA....a higher rate.

Louisiana 982 425 43%
Population, Louisiana 4,410,796 - Jul 2008

10-26-2009, 08:05
Alcohol fatality rates not better than the national average http://www.alcoholalert.com/drunk-driving-statistics.html

PA is 28th (Statistically average) in DUI rates.

Also, the PLCB is the largest single liquor buyer in the world (which it is) then why don't Pennsylvanians have the best prices across the board? it seems to work for Walmart. They want to run it like a business then be more like Walmart.

It has been estimated that if PA was a non-control state there would be 1800+ liquor stores in the state instead of the 618 we now have.

A big bragging point that the PLCB has is how they turned in 475 Million back to the state last year. What they don't say is that Rent, Utilities, Salaries, Pensions and paying for the PLCB itself comes out of that. A 1.5 Billion dollar business made 55 Million and its a MONOPOLY!

A good read about why PA should get out of the Liquor business:

10-26-2009, 08:19
I look at it this way- The state of PA owns all the liquor stores in PA and controls all alcohol coming in to the state. There is no competition- therefore, that means there is no incentive to be competitive (examples: lower prices, better customer service, larger variety,...) and there is no want for them to help a consumer with their needs. Then take a state that has private ownership of their liquor stores. All the stores HAVE TO compete to stay alive. They must offer better service, more selection, and lower prices than their competitor or they go out of business. It's a total win for the customer!

10-26-2009, 08:22
Good article....and right in so many ways and the central idea applies to almost any conceivable service.........hmmm

"The benefit of eliminating the government’s monopoly of wine and spirits is
that independent but regulated private sector businesses are forced to compete on price, quality, and choice."

Fat chance of eliminating it though....too much political patronage on the jobs etc.

10-26-2009, 18:40
Glad to see this thread...I have about had it with the PLCB and need to find another source of bourbon. I've only been appreciating bourbon for a little over five or six years and during that period the PLCB has dropped some of my favorites from their inventory...EWSB, Elmer T. Lee SB, Old Grand Dad 114, WT Kentucky Spirit, WT Rare Breed, and I'm sure there are others that I can't think of right now. Not to mention the bourbon I've read about on this forum that have never been available in PA. And now I'm afraid it looks like they have dropped the BTAC. I've wrote letters complaining to the PLCB but since they're a monopoly I'm sure they couldn't care less. If I can no longer buy Stagg from the PLCB, screw'em. I'll bet the merchants in Ohio, New York, or Maryland will take my money.

I live in western Pa, about 35 miles north of Pittsburgh, and would like to know of stores in eastern Ohio or western Maryland that have a good bourbon selection. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know.


10-26-2009, 18:54
Ohio believe it or not, used to be a great place to get whiskey. Just as Pa. has done, Ohio has succeeded in ruining their liquor business. In 1995, they closed all state run, state staffed liquor stores and went to an agency system where they consign the liquor to stores owned by individuals. No rent, employee salaries or other retail related expenses to pay, only a commission on the liquor sold, after it is sold. This is great for the state, but the drop in brand offerings for the bourbon lover sucks. I remember in the early 1980's, the selection here was as good as anywhere but no more. For more specialized brands, you have to look long and far, if the state has these brands at all. I do venture to Pa. once in a while (I live 45 minutes from Sharon/Hermitage) but only for sale items and and occassional one time special purchase item!


10-27-2009, 06:07
Being that I live in PA, what happens if I try and buy whiskey direct from a distributor?

10-27-2009, 06:11
They won't sell it to you.

10-27-2009, 12:46
Poop. So, really, the only way I'm going to get anything better than some overpriced Beam or Daniels is to hop the border now and then?

10-27-2009, 13:02
Poop. So, really, the only way I'm going to get anything better than some overpriced Beam or Daniels is to hop the border now and then?

Ain't no biggie.
MI has a better selection than PA and I drive to Chi-Town, KY and other places.
Also make scores off the internet all the time.

10-27-2009, 20:34
I lived in York, PA for a few years and I had to drive down to Towson for more reasonable prices. Just save up some cash in your piggy bank and buy a lot whenever you head down to Maryland.