Submitted by: Wes Black
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board hinders commonwealth citizens’ freedom of choice through unnecessary bureaucratic restrictions. During the last two years, it has become a hobby of mine to collect bottles of Kentucky bourbon and Scotch whisky. This hobby has shed light onto the inherent problems that the PLCB has in providing an acceptable experience of purchasing certain alcohols.
The PLCB has allowed for the expansion of different purchasing options, such as online purchasing from Fine Wine & Good Spirits, the liquor lottery, and facilitating direct shipping to Pennsylvania residences from PA distilleries. Having taken part in these now available programs out of curiosity, and sometimes necessity (as some alcohol is only available for purchase online through FW&GS), I have found these programs to be a great impediment to average enjoyers of out-of-state produced whiskies. For example, alcohol deliveries have a twelve hour delivery window and require both a signature and identification to be provided at the time of delivery. Three failures to accept delivery will result in a fee, a forfeiture of alcohol ordered, and a pending refund.
The liquor lottery that distributes uncommon bottles of whiskey intermittently throughout the year is ineffective in providing transparency of the lottery system to consumers and lacks accountability for the distribution of these uncommon alcohols. I also have found that certain whiskies are only in-stock at select stores, oftentimes located in the population centers of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Finally, the PLCB allowing a single liquor licensee to purchase the entire stock of an uncommon alcohol, such as what recently occurred when one business purchased 800 bottles of a highly sought-after bourbon, is unacceptable. These practices will only provide incentive for purchasing alcohol outside of PA to be brought illegally into the state, and must change moving forward.