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d_nelly78
03-13-2008, 13:49
I keep seeing this term used. I am moving to VA and I guess that is a control state from what I have heard. What does this mean to me? Thanks.

CorvallisCracker
03-13-2008, 14:53
I keep seeing this term used. I am moving to VA and I guess that is a control state from what I have heard. What does this mean to me? Thanks.

Generally, a state where alcohol distribution and sales are controlled by a state agency. There are 18 controlled states. Virginia is one. Oregon is another.

The specifics will vary from state to state. Some exert very tight control over everything. Others, like Oregon, are fairly loose about beer and wine but still very tight about distilled spirits.

All distilled spirits in Oregon come through a state-owned warehouse and must be on a list of products approved by the OLCC. They meet periodically to decide what to add or drop from the list.

A bottle remains the property of the state until purchased by the consumer. The money passes back to the state, and then on to the distributer and/or producer. There can thus be a very long delay between the time a producer ships something to Oregon and the time they receive payment for it. They hate that, and it's one reason that it's very hard to get low-production "niche" products here.

(beginning of rant)
The 18 control commisions around the USA represent a bizarre marriage of Cary Nation moralism and anti-free-enterprise socialism. You've been recently defending this county, putting your life on the line, and you should be able to buy what you want regardless of where you choose to live.
(end of rant)

I noted in your intro post in "New to StraightBourbon" that you plan a visit to Florida soon. Florida is not a controlled state. I'd suggest putting together a shopping list and visiting some big liquor stores.

Sijan
03-13-2008, 15:24
Here is a link to the VA ABC website: http://www.abc.virginia.gov/

The most relevant part is probably the price lists: http://www.abc.virginia.gov/Pricelist/price.html (click on the categories on the lefthand side - there are several relevant categories)

And also the list of sales (these change on a monthly basis): http://www.abc.virginia.gov/Pricelist/DISCOUNTS.html

ratcheer
03-13-2008, 16:09
Here is one of the things I hate about my state's ABC. They add several, some of which are very substantial, state taxes to the products. Then, they have the temerity to add state sales tax to the total, including the already added state taxes! Double taxation taken to the extreme. :hot:

They didn't used to do that, but somewhere along the line, they started.

Of course, the other major problem is that you can only buy what the state has decided to carry.

Tim

Sijan
03-13-2008, 18:13
I am no fan of it in VA, but one thing I can't complain about too much is the price. I'm not sure why prices are so low on bourbon here (surely it can't be subsidized?), but they are. The selection is also pretty good, although for older or unique stuff, I have to look in DC.

JamesW
03-13-2008, 18:52
I am no fan of it in VA, but one thing I can't complain about too much is the price. I'm not sure why prices are so low on bourbon here (surely it can't be subsidized?), but they are. The selection is also pretty good, although for older or unique stuff, I have to look in DC.

Yes, NH is also a controlled state and their prices are almost always better than most liquor stores I've been to and even the duty-free shops for the most part. In fact when I cross into Canada (which is often) I skip the duty-free altogether. The only issue with these controlled states is that the selection, while extensive, is geared to the higher volume products with little attention paid to smaller distillers etc... unfortunately for me, NH doesn't carry any of my favorite Van Winkle products :cry:

Sijan
03-13-2008, 19:17
I've noticed the same about NH prices. Yes, they do tend to carry high volume products but NH also carries the BTAC, however, or at least used to. BTAC may be available for special order in VA, but that is always kind of iffy. However, Van Winkle Lot B is available in many VA ABC stores.

JamesW
03-13-2008, 19:41
I've noticed the same about NH prices. Yes, they do tend to carry high volume products but NH also carries the BTAC, however, or at least used to. BTAC may be available for special order in VA, but that is always kind of iffy. However, Van Winkle Lot B is available in many VA ABC stores.

Yes they still have... er... had the BTAC but are sold out except for 1 Stagg way out in Hampton and 1 Thomas Handy and 1 Saz 18 up in Conway last time I checked... too far a drive for me to go get them http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/icons/icon9.gif although I might have made the trip if some WLW's were there!

ThomasH
03-13-2008, 19:46
Check out TTB.com. Click distilled spirits on the menu bar then click on liquor contol boards on the menu to the right. A list of the liquor control boards for every state comes up and all "control" states are marked in parenthesis. Some states have nice websites while others just list addresses and phone numbers!

Thomas

cowdery
03-14-2008, 00:01
Historically, the one thing all control states had in common was that the state was the sole distributor, but now I see that some of the big distributors, such as Southern Wine and Spirits, operate in control states, apparently as agents for the Alcoholic Beverage Control board. Like just about every other intersection of liquor and government, it's all justified by the need to control the abuse of alcohol, but it's really all about money.

Sijan
03-14-2008, 05:56
Chuck, I agree with what you say, but I have always been puzzled by the low prices in VA and NH. (For bourbon, at least. Scotch tends to be a little more expensive in VA than DC, but you also don't have to pay DC's 9% alcohol tax in VA.)

What do you think explains the lower prices? Are they simply a reflection of bulk discounts the state ABCs receive because of the size of the market they command as distibutors for an entire state? For some reason I had thought VA's proximity to KY might have something to do with it (not just lower shipping costs, but also perhaps closer relationships making for better prices or something.) But that wouldn't explain the low prices in NH.

JamesW
03-14-2008, 08:25
Sijan, what I have noticed in NH is that they tend to operate large facilities near highways close to state borders so there are certainly economies of scale working for them and perhaps most of all they are able to attract some very large traffic from the surrounding states like MA, VT, and ME that have much higher taxes on liquor etc... NH is a New England destination for cheap liquor. Their model is high volume with thin margins.

dcb
03-14-2008, 09:26
All being said about NH is true, I live near the VT/NH border (and work in NH) so I buy pretty much all my booze in NH, there's one of the better-stocked shops in the state near me as well. When a bourbon goes on sale in NH, it's almost guaranteed to be damn near the lowest price anywhere. Sales vary month to month, sometimes there are some real steals on the shelf. However, selection is somewhat limited with some items. No VanWinkle anywhere, no Weller 107, no OGD 114, and so on... The BTAC is usually stocked though, all bottles were $46.99 when they arrived in december. And no sales tax :)

Sijan
03-14-2008, 09:33
The BTAC is usually stocked though, all bottles were $46.99 when they arrived in december. And no sales tax :)

That is just a great bargain on the BTAC. The cheapest price in DC is $65.99 a bottle.

ILLfarmboy
03-15-2008, 08:29
Illinois is a free state but Iowa is a control state. I live close enough to the river that I shop frequently in Davenport IA and sometimes in Burlington IA. Prices and selection pretty much mirror what's available on the IL. side with some exceptions regarding selection.

cowdery
03-15-2008, 14:02
Control states tend to do their pricing based on some kind of formula that may even be statutory. They tend to be oblivious to market pricing so they may be high (relative to nearby license markets) on some things and low on others.

jburlowski
03-16-2008, 12:30
A "control state" is when the wife says "no more additions to the bunker."

Where are the Libertarians when we need them? :)

cowdery
03-16-2008, 16:01
A "control state" is when the wife says "no more additions to the bunker."

Where are the Libertarians when we need them? :)

No, that's a totalitarian state. :)

CrashRiley
03-16-2008, 16:48
Scotch tends to be a little more expensive in VA than DC, but you also don't have to pay DC's 9% alcohol tax in VA.



Yes, but in Virginia, you still have to pay Virginia sales tax on liquor at the ABC stores, which is what now, 5%? Funny thing - used to be at the state stores, they didn't collect sales tax, the shelf price was the price that you walked out the door with, then some state legislator must've figured out that they were forfeiting millions in sales tax, so they stuck it on in the late '80's I believe. I still get a lot of Virginia customers who are impressed by our prices on a lot of high-end liquor, though, especially on 1.75L. Sure, Virginia, like any other sales entity, can have the occasional sale, but we still get a lot of customers from Virginia and Maryland. To me, prices are like football teams - on any given day, anybody can beat anybody else.

By the way, I realize that our prices in D.C. for things like BTAC might be higher than even bordering-Montgomery County, Maryland, but you know what? We still manage to sell out every single bottle of BTAC, year after year. It's simply market forces at work and convenience for some people. Heck, we may PAY more for it at the wholesale level than some states do. Remember, the entire Washington, D.C. allocation of BTAC is allocated to many top restaurants and hotels and then to at least the 10 top retail stores. Every now and then, another stray bottle of something like Sazerac 18 comes our way, as they get freed up by the distributor from allocations that they don't want to sit on any longer.

Jake_Parrott
03-16-2008, 16:56
My experience in the DC area is, if Montgomery County stocks it, their price is almost always the best. Then DC for most things. VA is rarely cheaper in my experience.

Sijan
03-16-2008, 17:07
Believe me, I much prefer the DC system of independent liquor stores. I just don't like paying a 9% tax on my liquor - that takes away a lot of the advantage of competitive market pricing.

cowdery
03-17-2008, 22:15
Montgomery County, Maryland, is unique. It is the only control county within what is otherwise a license jurisdiction. Is it possible this is a government agency that is actually run for the benefit of its constituents, hence the low prices?

shyster512
03-18-2008, 19:55
[quote=cowdery;115476]Is it possible this is a government agency that is actually run for the benefit of its constituents....quote]
I wouldn't know. I have never seen any government agency do this nor do I believe I ever will.