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View Full Version : Ohio: Bourbon desert or home of unappreciated brands?



callmeox
12-23-2012, 08:44
Ohio members often complain about the lack of bourbon selection in the state that acts as a hat to the eastern flank of Kentucky. How much of this is a real problem and how much is just grumbling for grumbling's sake?

Ohio is a special kind of control state, so its rules present a challenge to distillers and wholesalers. As a bailment state, all liquor in the state controlled warehouses belongs to the wholesaler up until the time that it is delivered to a retailer where it becomes the property of the state liquor commission or to a bar/restaurant/etc where it is owned by that establishment. Yep, entire warehouses of hooch that are still on someone else's books...great deal for the state IMO. Also, rarely are new products made available to all stores across the state, especially when you step in to the premium category. When Four Roses extended into Ohio, they were given shelf space in roughly 50 stores across the state for their products (going by memory there). It has taken them 3 years to expand the availability (via pull, not push) to the footprint that they have today.

If you're a wholesaler or producer fighting for retail shelf space for the equivalent of dead stock sitting in Ohio's warehouses, what's your motivation to bring high priced products into a stale environment? I'm not sure there is any unless you're up for the fight.

The next challenge is that all liquor on retail shelves is sold on a consignment basis. Retail pricing is set by the state with any local price variations being due to the differences in county tax rates or special assessments (like the Cuyahoga county 'sin tax' to finance the Gateway project). If you explore the state website, you can see the prices differences by county.

For example, a bottle of Eagle Rare Single Barrel retails for $30.95 in Cuyahoga county (including taxes) but only $29.95 in neighboring Lorain county.

Retailers make as much profit on a $30.00 sale of cheap vodka handles as they do a $30.00 bottle of bourbon so there's little reason to push premium brands.

The state made $794 million in liquor "proceeds" for 2011, so don't look for the system to change any time soon. Liquor is a big cash cow for the state and they're looking to mortgage the future profits for other needs. That's a topic for PR&C, but necessary to point out for the big picture.

With all of that in mind, here's a quick summary of what we can get here in our state controlled liquor haven:

All three Four Roses standard expressions
Evan Williams Single Barrel
Elijah Craig 12 and 18
Buffalo Trace
Rare Breed
JTS Brown BiB :grin:
Eagle Rare SB
Elmer T. Lee

Weller SR is on the list but OWA is not, so we're hurting as far as wheaters are concerned (outside of the Makers and M46 line).

Tack on the entire Beam line, Brown-Forman stuff like Woodford and Old Forester and Barton's 1792, and all of the majors are accounted for. VOB 100 handles in one store in Franklin County is a good sign unless someone special ordered a case for themselves

Many of the premium brands can be special ordered if you want a case lot

What else would be on your Ohio wish list for daily pours?

squire
12-23-2012, 09:00
I've never bought a bottle of whisky in Ohio. My few visits there I was either driving through or close enough to Kentucky that it didn't matter. The presence of Barton BIB is an encouraging sign.

ebo
12-23-2012, 09:41
I know I can probably get "some" different stuff if I'm willing to travel 20 or more miles for it. I'm not willing to waste the gas or the time on it, so, I suppose that's on me. I can pretty much mail order anything I want, but... someone of age has to be available for delivery. My wife and I both work too many hours to insure that either one of us is home. Neither of my daughters is old enough to sign, so...............

unfortunately, the only two "real" stores only carry a limited number of "good" whisk(e)y of any kind. Selection is definitely limited to the standard fare. the stores closest to me only carry the most popular brands. Most of them have even stopped carrying JW Black...lol. Basically, the stores close to me cater to low wage, wino types. I know that sounds un PC, but it's just the truth. There is not enough high end consumers to warrant them carrying anything but what they can move quickly. I understand that, but it's very frustrating not to be able to purchase something if you want it.

I could never purchase PHC, BTAC, WTKS, etc..... (that I'm aware of) around here. Other than the "normal" high/er end stuff, I've never seen most of the stuff you guys talk about on this forum...... and I likely never will.

clingman71
12-23-2012, 09:43
ETL was a welcome sight when it hit in'11. You hit the bullseye with the wheater statement. We have seen a tiny VW allotment the past two years, but no W12 or OWA, and no Larceny. There is a small amount of BTAC, but in SW Ohio, it is almost exclusively sold from retailers to restaurants and bars. It isn't great here, but it has definitely improved in the recent past.

Phil T
12-23-2012, 09:53
Off the top of my head Ox, these are the daily pours I'd like to see available to us:

HH BIB 6yr
OGD 114
Ritt BIB
Mellow Corn

PS..I'm thinking the JTS Brown was discontinued about a year ago?

ebo
12-23-2012, 10:33
Off the top of my head Ox, these are the daily pours I'd like to see available to us:

HH BIB 6yr
OGD 114
Ritt BIB
Mellow Corn

PS..I'm thinking the JTS Brown was discontinued about a year ago?

I have never understood why we can get OGD BiB, but not 114.

squire
12-23-2012, 10:45
Yeah I know, locally I can get Barton 86 but not 100, in Memphis I can get Barton 80,86,90 and 100 but the trip isn't worth half a days time and $50 worth of gas.

squire
12-23-2012, 10:46
I can get OGD 86, 100 or 114 locally though so guess I'll just stay put.

Young Blacksmith
12-23-2012, 11:42
Don't fret too much, sounds like the rural market where I live. Sure, I can drive to Dallas to find just about anything, but off your wish lists I can't get:

Ritt BIB
Mellow Corn
HH BIB 6 yr
PHC
and only one store carries VOB BIB. Most carry 86 though, a new product for us.

Also no new taylor stuff out here.

BTAC is hit or miss, usually Stagg and ER 17 are buyable for a day or two. This year I passed on both as they were almost $120. WTKS is possible in certain stores too.

callmeox
12-23-2012, 11:57
I know I can probably get "some" different stuff if I'm willing to travel 20 or more miles for it. I'm not willing to waste the gas or the time on it, so, I suppose that's on me. I can pretty much mail order anything I want, but... someone of age has to be available for delivery. My wife and I both work too many hours to insure that either one of us is home. Neither of my daughters is old enough to sign, so...............

unfortunately, the only two "real" stores only carry a limited number of "good" whisk(e)y of any kind. Selection is definitely limited to the standard fare. the stores closest to me only carry the most popular brands. Most of them have even stopped carrying JW Black...lol. Basically, the stores close to me cater to low wage, wino types. I know that sounds un PC, but it's just the truth. There is not enough high end consumers to warrant them carrying anything but what they can move quickly. I understand that, but it's very frustrating not to be able to purchase something if you want it.

I could never purchase PHC, BTAC, WTKS, etc..... (that I'm aware of) around here. Other than the "normal" high/er end stuff, I've never seen most of the stuff you guys talk about on this forum...... and I likely never will.

How close are you to the Fishers store that ThomasH raves about? They seem to have a good reputation and are happy to hook up special orders.

WTKS was on the list as recently as two years ago. It didn't sell, so they dropped it. WTAS met the same fate.



Off the top of my head Ox, these are the daily pours I'd like to see available to us:

HH BIB 6yr
OGD 114
Ritt BIB
Mellow Corn

PS..I'm thinking the JTS Brown was discontinued about a year ago?

Funny, as I was grocery shopping after my earlier post, it struck me that the OGD 114 was missing from my 'entire Beam line' statement. It hit me when I took a call from a guy at work asking for help finding a good, cheap bottle of bourbon. I steered him away from Old Crow and to the OGD BiB. Missing the 114 is big hole, as well as the HH BiB.

I picked up a case of Ritt BiB in Stark Co. a number of years back after DeanSheen tracked it down via phone. He and I split it up after I muled it back north. May be worth a special order reqest.

I saw the JTS 100 on the shelf at a great store in Mentor over the summer but there are jut 14 stores with either the 750 or handle listed on the state site, so you may be correct that it is on its way out. I put a few away after Parker Beam signed them for me in Bardstown.

I'm not a corn fan, but it would be cool to have a reasonably priced option. 13th Colony corn is available at a premium.



I have never understood why we can get OGD BiB, but not 114.

I feel the same way, but it is available in PA at a good price. That's where I've been known to cure my "burnt corner of the brownie pan" bourbon jones.

ThomasH
12-23-2012, 12:15
Ebo, the Giant Eagle at Market and Easton in the Washington Square center is an excellent store too. Had some BTAC earlier as well as E.H.Taylor rye. Also some nice scotch too. If you order online, most places ship Fedex. As soon as they email you a tracking number, go to their website and have the package sent to a Fedex office location. They will notify you when its delivered. There is one on whipple across from Belden Village mall. I am the king of missed deliveries as I work 25 miles from home. The Fedex arrangement works brilliantly. order away!

Thomas

ThomasH
12-23-2012, 12:19
If it can be ordered, your local store can get it. If an independent doesn't want to bother, a local Giant Eagle will. A few mediocre stores around here got bought out by Giant Eagle and now are top notch!

Thomas
How close are you to the Fishers store that ThomasH raves about? They seem to have a good reputation and are happy to hook up special orders.

WTKS was on the list as recently as two years ago. It didn't sell, so they dropped it. WTAS met the same fate.




Funny, as I was grocery shopping after my earlier post, it struck me that the OGD 114 was missing from my 'entire Beam line' statement. It hit me when I took a call from a guy at work asking for help finding a good, cheap bottle of bourbon. I steered him away from Old Crow and to the OGD BiB. Missing the 114 is big hole, as well as the HH BiB.

I picked up a case of Ritt BiB in Stark Co. a number of years back after DeanSheen tracked it down via phone. He and I split it up after I muled it back north. May be worth a special order reqest.

I saw the JTS 100 on the shelf at a great store in Mentor over the summer but there are jut 14 stores with either the 750 or handle listed on the state site, so you may be correct that it is on its way out. I put a few away after Parker Beam signed them for me in Bardstown.

I'm not a corn fan, but it would be cool to have a reasonably priced option. 13th Colony corn is available at a premium.




I feel the same way, but it is available in PA at a good price. That's where I've been known to cure my "burnt corner of the brownie pan" bourbon jones.

ebo
12-23-2012, 12:25
How close are you to the Fishers store that ThomasH raves about? They seem to have a good reputation and are happy to hook up special orders.

WTKS was on the list as recently as two years ago. It didn't sell, so they dropped it. WTAS met the same fate.


I go there often. It's one of the "good" stores around here. Sill. they really don't have a big selection, IMO. They have a better selection, but still nothing out of the norm.

ebo
12-23-2012, 12:27
Ebo, the Giant Eagle at Market and Easton in the Washington Square center is an excellent store too. Had some BTAC earlier as well as E.H.Taylor rye. Also some nice scotch too. If you order online, most places ship Fedex. As soon as they email you a tracking number, go to their website and have the package sent to a Fedex office location. They will notify you when its delivered. There is one on whipple across from Belden Village mall. I am the king of missed deliveries as I work 25 miles from home. The Fedex arrangement works brilliantly. order away!

Thomas

Thanks for the info. I'll try that.

ebo
12-23-2012, 12:29
I go the Giant Eagle on Raff Rd. If they can order stuff for me, I'll definitely go that option.

theglobalguy
12-23-2012, 13:02
First trip i ever made to TPS on way to family gathering in Ohio, stopped only to see a tour bus full of folks stopping. Watched as they FILLED carts with what to me were common brands/products (as i'm based in Louisville, bourbon and whiskey are plentiful). Was just dumbfounded until i learned later of the control state in Ohio and such different rules. Had to laugh that for all the efforts to control, all they were doing was losing tax revenue to bordering states.

Phil T
12-23-2012, 13:14
Thanks to a tip from Thomas, I called pretty much every store in a 50 mile radius for both VW and BTAC. I located just one store that had either. One lonely GTS.

I drove 30 miles one way to discover it was CEHT SB, not GTS. I passed but was shocked they had the Taylor. They did have Baby Saz, which I bought. That shocked me also.

ThomasH
12-23-2012, 13:25
I hit all the stores in Stark county. I basically go by each on the way home from work except one, and that one my parents live near. I can send them to get bottles at that store!

Thomas

callmeox
12-23-2012, 13:57
First trip i ever made to TPS on way to family gathering in Ohio, stopped only to see a tour bus full of folks stopping. Watched as they FILLED carts with what to me were common brands/products (as i'm based in Louisville, bourbon and whiskey are plentiful). Was just dumbfounded until i learned later of the control state in Ohio and such different rules. Had to laugh that for all the efforts to control, all they were doing was losing tax revenue to bordering states.


It seems that way, but the state netted $251 million dollars in profit on $825 million in sales for the most recent fiscal year so I don't think they are worried about cross border sales. Prices are not out of line compared to the neighboring states, it's the selection that tends to suffer.

If folks like ebo won't make the drive for specialty stuff, will the average consumer bother when the top 10 sellers are as listed below (from 2011)?

(that's over 168,000 cases of Kamchatka and over 147,000 cases of Jack)

From: http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2012/01/19/ohio-booze-sales-reach-record-level-in.html?page=all

Top 10 selling liquor brands in Ohio

Kamchatka Vodka – 401,148 gallons
Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey – 349,589 gallons
Bacardi Superior Light Rum – 291,559 gallons
Captain Morgan Spiced Rum – 284,606 gallons
Absolut Vodka – 274,549 gallons
Smirnoff Vodka – 271,679 gallons
Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey – 271,497 gallons
Jagermeister – 257,774 gallons
Korski Vodka – 231,916 gallons
Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey – 192,244 gallons

theglobalguy
12-23-2012, 15:13
(that's over 168,000 cases of Kamchatka and over 147,000 cases of Jack)





Astonishing is the word. Can't say i'd even heard of that vodka brand until now. Which goes back to your point about "why sell higher quality goods when cheap brings in same profit". Can see why each state is highly protective of it's current laws (i.e. massive tax revenue for little effort) but have to think it hits critical mass in coming years.

mosugoji64
12-23-2012, 17:33
Hey Scott - you forgot about Old Dan Tucker. That MUST be state's most unappreciated brand. You Ohio boys have it good! :lol:

squire
12-23-2012, 18:00
Oh that's a great name, somebody tell me about Old Dan Tucker.

callmeox
12-23-2012, 20:39
It's a diluted bourbon sold in some of the finest gas stations and convenience stores in the state.

Ohio allows 42 proof "diluted" spirits to be sold, so there's a whole line of diluted crap that you can get if so inclined.

clingman71
12-23-2012, 22:56
Old Dan Tucker was a fine old man
He washed his face in the frying pan
He combed his hair with a wagon wheel
And died of the toothache in his heel
Get out the way for old Dan Tucker
He's too late to git his supper

squire
12-23-2012, 23:46
How could it be both 'diluted' and Bourbon on the same label? Oh, never mind, I can look that up if my interest holds long enough to type it in.

cbus
12-24-2012, 04:44
In discussing this topic with a local retailer, in terms of the BTAC, I heard that this last year the great state of Ohio managed to get a grand total of three bottles of GTS... and that's it. No ER 17, no Handy, No W.L. Weller and certainly no Saz 18.

clingman71
12-24-2012, 06:25
In discussing this topic with a local retailer, in terms of the BTAC, I heard that this last year the great state of Ohio managed to get a grand total of three bottles of GTS... and that's it. No ER 17, no Handy, No W.L. Weller and certainly no Saz 18.


I think retailers tell some interesting tales in Ohio. I know of a few places in Dayton area that serve GTS and/or Saz. I've "heard" that Ohio gets WLW but only sends it to one county for a specific retailer. My local retailer had Saz but would not sell me one because they said they "had to sell it" to a specific restaurant. I called bullshit in this, said who they sold to was their decision, not the State of Ohio's. I emailed the state and the reply said , because of three tier, state has no input on where bottles go once they get to the retailer.

Flyfish
12-24-2012, 08:07
[QUOTE=ebo;314617]I know I can probably get "some" different stuff if I'm willing to travel 20 or more miles for it. I'm not willing to waste the gas or the time on it, so, I suppose that's on me. I can pretty much mail order anything I want, but... someone of age has to be available for delivery.

From Toledo, it is 200 miles to KY. I never drive that far just for bourbon but I pass through KY a half dozen times a year and always stock up at Liquor Barn and/or TPS. It is not just the rare bottlings of super premium that are unavailable in OH. I buy at least one handle of AAA 10YO every chance I get. In OH, they only sell 10 Star and the regular AA. As for mail order, the shipping charges are higher than the purchase price of most value pours. As a matter of principle, I object to the state limiting my access. In "free states," if one store doesn't have what you want you can go to another store. In OH, the other stores don't have it either.

ebo
12-24-2012, 10:53
[QUOTE=ebo;314617]I know I can probably get "some" different stuff if I'm willing to travel 20 or more miles for it. I'm not willing to waste the gas or the time on it, so, I suppose that's on me. I can pretty much mail order anything I want, but... someone of age has to be available for delivery.

From Toledo, it is 200 miles to KY. I never drive that far just for bourbon but I pass through KY a half dozen times a year and always stock up at Liquor Barn and/or TPS. It is not just the rare bottlings of super premium that are unavailable in OH. I buy at least one handle of AAA 10YO every chance I get. In OH, they only sell 10 Star and the regular AA. As for mail order, the shipping charges are higher than the purchase price of most value pours. As a matter of principle, I object to the state limiting my access. In "free states," if one store doesn't have what you want you can go to another store. In OH, the other stores don't have it either.

Exactly. I don't mail order much of anything anymore. It's the lack of availability in Ohio that pisses me off.

If we can have 10 star, why can't we have 10 year old? If we can have OGD BiB, why can't we have 114? If we can have HH Old Style, why can't we have HH BiB?

I guess I don't understand why we can only have certain offerings from a distiller/brand, but we can't get the rest of what they offer. Ohio is a whisk(e)y desert, IMO.

soad
12-24-2012, 11:37
I will give Ohio credit for having Old Ezra 101 for only $14.

I have made the hour round trip to buy a few bottles more than once.

(Ohioans should also be happy you can mail order bourbon, the Commonwealth of PA forbids such transactions.)

portwood
12-24-2012, 12:43
Ohio is a whisk(e)y desert, IMO.
If you think Ohio is a whisk(e)y desert you should cross to the other side of Lake Ontario. In our desert, oases occasionally appear where our local government monopoly requires the exchange of gold bars for adult beverages. In 2010-11 such gold bars translated into $4.7 billion in sales and $1.63 billion "dividend to the Ontario government, not including taxes". This is justified to "pay for health care, education and other important services".

... end of thread jack.

ebo
12-24-2012, 14:44
I went to the Fisher's store today. I went to get EC12, George Dickel Barrel Select and Ardmore traditional cask. None of those have been available for over a month. Fisher's is the best liquor store in the area. Are these no longer available in Ohio...... or just my area?

steeltownbbq
12-26-2012, 17:57
I've never seen any of the above in Ohio, or most of what is discussed on these forums for that matter

ThirstyinOhio
12-26-2012, 18:15
Ohio's selection sucks for the most part. While we may get most of the Beam products and other high production products from various distilleries, it is damn near impossible if not completely impossible to get a lot of the limited selections. I'm not even talking about Pappy or BTAC, but good luck trying to order in a PHC, willett, or even the LE Four Roses offerings. I am just lucky that I have been able to snag some of the offerings from PA (all thanks to a fellow SB'er) and my wife doesn't mind making a weekend (or longer, it takes about 5 hours to get to the border) trip down to KY for some bourbon hunting.

A part of me wishes that I could just walk into my local state store and pick up any bottle that my heart desired, but to be honest I like the thrill of the hunt as well. When I am finally able to track down a bottle I've been after, either by traveling to get it or through a contact I make on this site, and crack it open it adds that little bit extra enjoyment to that first pour.

callmeox
12-26-2012, 18:39
The state will order in anything that meets the following criteria:

The distributor will allocate a case of the product to the state.
You will buy the entire case.

If Ohio isn't on the allocation list, that's not the states fault. Especially when if comes to highly allocated products.

I have been a party to many special order attempts. Some succeeded, some did not.

ebo
12-27-2012, 10:22
Is there a reason why I can't find EC12 in my area? It's always been readily available untill recently. I'm hoping it's just a coincidence that every place I've purchased it is just out of stock at the same time.