Frodo, MGillespie, and I have been blethering on another thread about whisky shops--for the most part, actual physical shops, rather than online ones. What are your favorites? What experiences have you had, good, bad, amusing, tragic? What would you like to see in a shop that you haven't (besides a bottle of MacAskill 42)? And huurman, where are these 1200+ bottle shops in the Netherlands? One never knows when one might be passing through Amsterdam on KLM.
Some excerpts so far:
Frodo, the LCBO [Ontario governmet liquor monopoly] sounds to be unusually enlightened, progressive, and responsive--definitely the exception to the rule.My friend Marc, a bar manager in Québec, not only has to live with the limited offerings from the SAQ, but must deal frequently with ignorant and apathetic staff.
When I made the comment about Canada being more civilized, I perhaps should have said more relaxed. True, there's a monopoly with the provincial stores, but I can't even imagine most private retailers in the States would offer that kind of service, even if the antiquated state liquor laws most states have would let them...
MG, there are whisky shops that offer that kind of service in the States, and if they are few and far between, well, you can bet that it's only a handful of LCBO shops that do, also.
If you are ever in Boston, I can recommend Federal Wines & Liquors on State Street, a tiny shop close to Quincy Market with an astonishing array of quality stuff. The owner is very knowledgeable and always available for a blether, and always offers me samples which I reluctantly refuse, as I am usually on duty (I am a commercial driver). His prices are a tad high, but that goes hand-in-hand with the service. Unfortunately, no website.
Anyway, I've just spent some time on the LCBO site, and I see they're not immune to bureaucratic idiocy. [Long list of petty complaints.] On the plus side, I see you can get both 700ml and 750ml bottles, which increases your options considerably.
1) While I agree that only the "flagship stores" have everything I mentioned, the air miles, limited time offers, and value added item programs are in place at all LCBO stores large and small. The return policy and access to magazines are similarly applicable to all stores.
2) Their inventory on their website is not the best or most accurate, and is updated only once every couple of weeks or so. Having said that however, it is transparent. Most private companies put product lists and prices on-line for public consumption, but I'm not familiar with any who attempt to put their inventory on-line for all to see it.
Why don't you people come to the Netherlands, there are three shops with more then 1200 whisky's on stock and one has even more then 1400 whisky's on stock. OB's, MCMD, DL, Sig., Cad., BA's, JMA etc. You name it and they've got it.
[MrTattieHeid wrote: If you are ever in Boston, I can recommend Federal Wines & Liquors on State Street...]
Sounds like a guy who runs a quality buisiness. I pick up a red flag when you say his prices are a tad high though. I find LCBO Scotch prices in Cdn $ match US on-line delivery in US $. Don't forget, US$1=Cdn$1.25 or thereabouts. If his prices are high for the US, I'm not sure how well they'd compare to LCBO prices. I think this might be part of the price one pays for privatization. Here, I can get the service and the price. Selection is not exhaustive but it's not bad either.
My current favorite store is Park Avenue Liquors in NYC, but I don't get there nearly as often as I'd like...Philadelphia's controlled by the state liquor board, which makes the mob seem cuddly. Limited selection in the state stores, along with high prices. There are a few decent stores in NJ, but they're hard to find.
Above have been edited--apologies if in so doing I have omitted something pertinent or changed anyone's meaning.