We ran our raffle yesterday for the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection whiskies, so that's one less thing we have to worry about this holiday season. I still have to put in a few more orders for the winners, but then we're done. Congrats to those who managed to get a bottle.
To give you an idea of what we're dealing with numbers-wise, a store like K&L -- which buys a shit-ton of Buffalo Trace products throughout the year -- gets about two bottles of Weller, two bottles of Sazerac 18, two bottles of Eagle Rare, seven bottles of Handy, and about ten bottles of Stagg total. That's twenty-three combined bottles for a demand consisting of thousands of insider customers. Imagine how many raffle entries we'd have if we actually told the entire database about it! We only allow each winner to get one bottle total (and that then disqualifies them from future raffles) and we don't jack up the price -- we keep it at $79.99 -- but that still means that a lot of people go home unhappy.
I must get ten emails a day about the George T. Stagg and Pappy Van Winkle whiskies. The store gets about thirty phone calls a day on the customer service line. "Are you guys expecting any Pappy this year?" "How can I get on the list?" If we actually had a list for these products there would be no point in adding yourself to it. It would be ten miles long and your name wouldn't come up for allocation until the year 3067. Like my friend SKU wrote earlier this Fall: if you have to ask or do a Google search on how to get Stagg or Pappy then the odds of you getting one are pretty slim.
I can't imagine a situation where someone calls a retailer and actually gets "Yes, we have Pappy in stock, would you like one?" for an answer. It might happen somewhere in some netherworld I don't know about, but I honestly can't see it at this point. I tell people every single day: you'll never, ever, ever walk into a store in California again and see these whiskies on the shelf. Not for the standard retail price, at least. Maybe for a gigantic mark-up, but not for what they're worth. There are too many people after these products. There are people who spend their entire day calling around, hitting every store in the phone book, trying to secure a bottle. I can't speak for other stores, but at K&L there is ZERO chance of any new customer ever getting a bottle like that from us. We use them as raffle rewards for people who shop with us frequently and I have to believe that most other stores work the same way.
That being said, if you're still calling around to random stores, asking about these bottles and doing Google searches about how to get one, you're probably wasting your time. Based on what I know about K&L and other local retailers, there's simply no way that's going to work. Obviously, it might possibly work for someone at some point (and that person will definitely send me an email telling me how wrong I am), but the word is out at this stage. Many retailers are holding them back, buying the bottles personally at their staff discounts, and then heading out to the black market to quadrouple their money. People are charging thousands on Ebay. It's just not going to be as simple as calling a store and giving them your credit card. Not anymore.