How the Pennsylvania liquor lottery came to be
Before the days of limited-release lotteries, savvy liquor aficionados would invade the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s website with internet bots in search of highly sought-after bourbons and whiskeys.
The web robots significantly slowed down the state website, said Shawn Kelly, a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board spokesman. Pennsylvania residents often lost out on the rare bottles to buyers from other states.
So the liquor control board instituted a lottery system for the whiskeys in 2015, open only to Pennsylvania residents and licensees. Since then, the LCB has auctioned off 13,661 bottles of hard-to-find whiskey and bourbon. And tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians have registered nearly 500,000 times for a chance to buy the uncommon booze.
“Even if you have 200 bottles, where do you put them to make it fair for our customers?” Kelly said.
The state offers a lottery sale several times a year.
The current lottery is offering seven opportunities at 338 bottles, including the $2,500 Old Fashioned Copper Bourbon 1993 (90 Proof). The LCB has 15 bottles in stock, out of the 822 that were released.
On the lower end of the price-point scale, 60 bottles of whiskey from the Buffalo Trace Distillery Experimental Collection will be available at $49.99.
Expect the lottery to be competitive. Depending on the bottle and the year, a potential buyer could be vying for a bottle with 10,000 other people.
Last November, for example, more than 13,000 Pappy fans registered in the lottery for one of 260 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15 Year that sold for $149.99.
The least sought-after bottle? That was a bottle of Michter’s Bourbon Kentucky 25 Year in July last year. Only 1,356 consumers put their name in for one of five available bottles.
Pennsylvania residents and licensees will have until 11 p.m. on July 6 to enter the lottery. Registration is held on the LCB website, under the “Events” tab. The drawings will be held the week of July 8 and the winners will be notified by the end of the month.
The LCB declined to disclose the wholesale price it paid for the bottles in the lottery sale. The LCB, which operates the 600 stores selling wine and spirits in Pennsylvania, regulates the distribution of beverage alcohol and acts as wholesaler as well.
Nicole C. Brambila is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Nicole at 724-226-7704, [email protected] or via Twitter .