If you live in one of the 18 states where the sale of distilled spirits (aka hard liquor) is controlled by the state then you are stuck purchasing your liquor from state sanctioned ABC stores and which means you're stuck paying their outrageous prices. But if you live in any other state, then you have the privilege of being able to purchase your favorite booze from retailers like grocery stores, convenience stores and big box stores like Costco. Because both the state of Maryland and the state of Virginia are unfortunately so called 'control states,' Costcos in MD & VA cannot sell hard liquor. Virginia Costcos can sell beer and wine but Maryland Costcos can't sell any alcohol. For years Marylanders & Virginians in the DC Metro Area have suffered, but the opening of the first Washington DC Costco in Nov 2012, changed everything.
Because the District doesn’t control the sale of liquor the same way MD & VA do, they allow retailers, like Costco, to sell hard liquor, which means you can purchase not only Costco size bottles of your favorite booze, but you can enjoy Costco size prices too!
Check out these price comparisons of some name brand spirits: on the left side of each photo is the retail price in a Northern VA ABC store and on the right side is the Costco price in the Washington DC warehouse for the exact same size bottle.
Bombay Sapphire Gin: a 1.75L bottle retails for $53.95 but Costco sells the same bottle for only $29.39. The Costco price is an astounding 45% cheaper than the retail price! You save $24.56!!
Belvedere Vodka: a 1.75L bottle retails for $59.95 but Costco sells the same bottle for only $42.89. The Costco price is 28% less expensive than the retail price, which saves you over $17!
Malibu Caribbean Rum: a 1.75L bottle retails for $29.95 but Costco sells the same bottle for only $18.89; that’s a 36% savings off the retail price! Even the ABC store sale price of $26.95 can’t compete with the Costco sale price of $15.69, which is an even greater savings at 41% less than the retail price!
Knob Creek Kentucky Bourbon: a 1.75L bottle retails for $69.90 while Costco sells the same bottle for $49.99. The Costco price is 28% less than the retail price!
Kahlua Coffee Liqueur: a 1.75L bottle retails for $47.95 while Costco sells the same bottle for $35.89. The Costco price is 25% less than the retail price!
Bailey’s Irish Cream: a 1.75L bottle retails for $50.95 while Costco sells the same bottle for $39.99. The Costco price is 21% less than the retail price!
Tanqueray Gin: a 1.75L bottle retails for $49.95 while Costco sells the same bottle for $28.99. The Costco price is 41% less than the retail price!
Grey Goose Vodka: a 1.75L bottle retails for $69.90 while Costco sells the same bottle for $45.89. The Costco price is 34% less than the retail price!
Beefeater Gin: a 1.75L bottle retails for $41.90 while Costco sells the same bottle for $25.99. The Costco price is 37% less than the retail price!
Johnny Walker Red Whisky: a 1.75L bottle retails for $49.90 while Costco sells the same bottle for only $28.89. The Costco price is 42% less than the retail price!
Patron Silver Tequila: a 1.75L bottle retails for $103.90 while Costco sells the same bottle for $79.99. The Costco price is 23% less than the retail price!
Dewar’s Special Reserve 12 Year old Scotch: a 1.75L bottle retails for $79.95 while Costco sells the same bottle for $49.89. The Costco price is 37% less than the retail price!
Ciroc Vodka: a 1.75L bottle retails for $71.95 while Costco sells the same bottle for $45.89. The Costco price is 36% off the retail price!
From this sample you can clearly see how Costco can save you anywhere from 21% to 45% off the retail price of your favorite distilled spirits. And if you’re stocking up for a big event there’s virtually no risk because Costco allows you to return any unused, unopened bottles as long as you have your receipt and all original packaging, (the same goes for unopened cases of beer too), whereas most ABC stores will charge you a restocking fee to return merchandise and some put a cap on how much you can return if they allow returns at all.
Of course, that’s not all, Costco also has its own line of fabulous Kirkland Signature distilled spirits you can enjoy at a fraction of the cost of their brand name competitors. Check out this selection of KS brand hard liquor also from the DC warehouse.
Kirkland Signature 18 year old Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky (item #823871):
Kirkland Signature Reposado Tequila (item #774371):
Kirkland Signature Silver Tequila (item #888117):
Kirkland Signature Vodka (item #999910):
Kirkland Signature Canadian Whisky (item #888870):
Kirkland Signature Small Batch Kentucky Bourbon (item #888863):
And finally, for you enthusiasts & collectors, check out the Kirkland Signature Glenlivet Distillery 40 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (item #746526). You can read more about this limited quantity item in the December 2013 Costco Connection magazine.
Costco also carries a wide variety of top rated wines (including Champagne) and beers, including their own Kirkland Signature wines & beers, so the next time you need booze for a barbecue, a party, a wedding or even just for the weekend hop in your car and make a trip to Costco. And if you live in the DC metro area make a trip to the DC warehouse.
Thanks so much for reading my blog!
***DISCLAIMER 20 Aug 2015***
It has been brought to my attention that the state of Virginia has a law decreeing "No more than one gallon of alcoholic beverages (or the metric equivalent) may be brought into Virginia from outside the Commonwealth, excepting shipments to the commission or its licensees." This, for the purposes of this blog post, essentially means that it is illegal to purchase more than five (5) 750 ml bottles of liquor in DC (or any other state) and bring them back into Virginia- even if they are for your own personal consumption.
I have also heard that Virginia employees ABC agents monitor liquor stores in the District specifically looking for people with Virginia license plates who purchase large quantities of alcohol (like several cases) and bring them back into Virginia. Apparently, once these consumers cross back into Virginia the ABC agents can stop the driver, seize the alcohol, impound the vehicle and fine the driver.
With that being said, Costco is a lot more than just a liquor store so if I (as VA resident) go to the DC Costco warehouse and purchase several bottles of liquor in a single trip along with my other groceries and household items (which I have done many times) I feel like I am probably fine. However, now that this state law has been brought to my attention I will certainly think twice about going to the DC Costco Warehouse and purchasing an entire cart full of nothing but alcohol for my next party.
I am not a lawyer and thus not an expert on the law and I cannot provide legal advice, but I certainly do not want to encourage anyone to break the law. Please use the links below AND do your own research to ensure you understand your states alcoholic beverage laws and use your own judgement before purchasing alcohol outside of your state of residence:
(It should also be noted that beer and wine are covered under separate VA state laws that allow you to legally purchase two cases of wine or two cases of beer (or one case of each) outside of the Commonwealth, but since Virginia Costcos already sell beer and wine, if you are a Virginia resident you should be able to purchase what you need without traveling out of state.)
Marylanders- I'm sorry but I know nothing of your alcohol laws except that I have heard they are even more ridiculous than the Virginia alcohol laws and according to Tom Bridge from welovedc.com the state of Maryland basically just wants you to stay completely sober.
End of Disclaimer.
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Until next time,
the Costco Connoisseur
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