I have only lived in one state, Washington, since I was able to legally purchase alcohol so I have very limited experience or knowledge with the concept of dusty hunting. The state liquor control board maintained tight control of all spirits inventory. If a bottle, even a single one, was not purchased after a short period of time, it was returned to a central distribution center in Seattle and combined with other stock to return to the distributor or sell to employees at cost. I know this because I did work at the LCB distribution center back in 2004-2005. Dusties simply didn't exist, it was bad business to have old stock.
The change to privatization in June 2012 was a complex arrangement that it too lengthy to describe here without writing a novel, but needless to say the private owners have only had control of their inventory since that time. Most paid $50,000 to over $1,000,000 just for the right to operate a formerly state run store, so they aren't the type of adult novelty/beverage/corner market stores that most other states have where inventory control is often not a top priority.
I have yet to see a Washington store, big city or small town, that has anything worth buying more than a few months old. Hopefully someone can prove me wrong, it would give me hope.
The old state stores were auctioned off but you only got the license to operate a store and all the fixtures (which is why so many private stores look like the old state stores). The spirits inventory was auctioned off in lots -- you can see the catalog here -- and it was down to pretty basic stuff by the time it was all over. It's important to remember that the state stopped special ordering nearly six months before they ended retailing. There was nothing left on the shelf because of the bars/restaurants and folks like me, who hunted out even everyday brands like Buffalo Trace.
Most liquor in the Seattle is sold by major retailers (BevMo! and Total Wine) or grocery/warehouse stores (QFC, Fred Meyer and Costco). Some of the independents have nice selections but the pricing, more often than not, is outrageous. It's sad because it would be nice to support the little guy but it's hard to do so when you know you're overpaying by anywhere from 50% to 200%.
BevMo! in Ballard has Bookers 25th for $124.99 before tax and a limit of one per customer. I believe that works out to $153.44 after tax. LOL.
Last edited by ChainWhip; 04-02-2014 at 20:36.
¡Geaux Tigers! - ¡Visca el Barça!
"Really though, my hands are sore. The tool was doing it's thing with a flex hose." -Barrel_Proof
FYI: QFC in U-Village has Barterhouse, Old Blowhard, WT101 Rye (1L), WT Forgiven, Rittenhouse, Sazerac and Bowman Brothers, among others.
All is not bad however - I've been able to buy Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon in WA when I've traveled there on business. It was at a store in Redmond - can't remember the name. Willett isn't even distributed in RI, and just about impossible to do anywhere in the Northeast any more. And yes it was "expensive" but it was so tasty so I felt like it was worth it.