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Monday, August 19, 2019

A Guide to Getting Hard to Find Bottles in Ohio

One of the top questions I receive at this site is how to locate hard to find bottles in Ohio. I also can't begin to count how many times I've been in a liquor store and have seen someone ask if they have any bottles of Blanton's available (spoiler alert... they don't).

I've written plenty about why I don't believe the state should control liquor distribution in the state and the many disadvantages that it has for consumers. However, one of the main advantages of this system is the state is in full control of where bottles are at any given time because they are the sole distributor.

Given this advantage, the State Division of Liquor Control (OHLQ) has created a product search tool where you can search local or statewide to find where those hard to find bottles are in stock. This new tool debuted in December of 2018 and is open to anyone over the age of 21.

The tool works by allowing filterable criteria on the left rail with the corresponding results on the right. Once the results are displayed, the User can select the desired bottle and get a map of all locations where that product is available. 

Since everyone is obsessed with Blanton's (check back soon for our review), we'll start with that. I begin by typing 'Blanton' in the search bar to where it is the only result... then I click in it to see where Blanton's is located... 

When the map loads, it shows that the only locations in the state that may have Blanton's are in Dayton and Akron. I then zoom into Dayton and can see which store has it... in this case, it is Kettering Wine & Spirits. The bottle marking indicates that they have limited supply.  

This works for all bottles... here is another example of the highest rated bourbon that I've reviewed in Old Ezra 7 Year Barrel Strength... Once the search results are populated, I can see there are several stores near where I live that have it in stock... including a location with full stock.  

You may be asking what the bottle markers equate to and how often inventory is updated... I reached out to OHLQ and they provided the following information:
Inventory is updated daily at 3:30 a.m. to account for the previous day’s retail and wholesale sales. At approximately 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., we also do an update for any wholesale orders. 
In terms of what the bottles mean, they provided this guidance:

A full supply, or full bottle, is 3.5 times a rolling 14 days’ worth of sales. A limited supply, or half bottle, is less than 3.5 times a rolling 14 days’ worth of sale OR less than three bottles. An empty bottle indicates no inventory.
This new tool is incredibly helpful for consumers and is a huge step forward for OHLQ in being more consumer friendly and something we'll be taking full advantage of! 

If you find any bottles using the tool or have any questions, drop a note in the comment box below. 

Source: Original content with help from OHLQ


  1. As a current employee at a State Liquor Agency, I can tell you that the information at the website mentioned above concerning stock quantities at any given store can be woefully inaccurate. Always place a call to the store before you head out to make a purchase.

    1. Are the store allowed to hold the liquor and not sell if even if you know they have it? My local Giant Eagle lied and held it until it was demanded they sell a bottle.

    2. I'm not sure what the official stance is, but I don't think they are able to hold it beyond a reasonable period. I've called stores before and asked them to hold a bottle for 30-60 minutes for me until I can get there, but I think it's trash when the stores don't put bottles out and hold them for their friends and favorite customers.

    3. Honestly Mark, there's a hard reality here that might make things a bit clearer for you. The liquor store where I work does a brisk business in premium spirits, so we are designated by the state to receive premium bourbons.

      Case in point, tomorrow it is rumored that our weekly shipment will include three varieties of EH TAYLOR; Small Batch, Single Barrel, and Barrel Proof. All Buffalo Trace products are a case of six bottle, with the exception of regular Buffalo Trace which is case of twelve bottles. Very rarely do we receive more than one case at a time So, let's break it down to one case for this discussion. Three or four bottles from the case will be set aside for wholesale accounts. (who in non-COVID times often spend several thousand dollars a week in liquor) That leaves two or three for retail customers. My estimate is that we have approximately 250 customers who shop at our store who are pursuing these bourbons. You can easily see the disparity between the stock available for sale and customer demand.

      We endeavor to make the distribution process as fair as possible. That said, I have to remind you that we only make 6% on hard liqour, so if the only item that you are purchasing on that day is the premium Bourbon in your hand, your sale does not go far in support of the store. So there's the predicament, regular customers, Bourbon chasers, wholesale accounts and everybody else and their mother all demanding items with an availability that is pretty much nill.

  2. Yeah, it’s always wrong. It shows limited stock until the bar orders go out, so there’s none available to the gen pop.

  3. I've found that checking it Saturday morning is your best bet because Friday is a delivery day for many of the grocery stores (ask your favorite store when they get their deliveries). If it shows a full bottle that morning, get there when they open. Snagged two bottles of the new Four Rose's Small Batch Select that way.

  4. why do some stores show limited supply and you call and they say they are out but it shows for days or even a week or so as available?

  5. As I mentioned above, the State inventory system does not truly reflect actual product counts/availability in any given store. I'm not sure why this occurs. Poor technical hardware and mismanagement is my only guess.

  6. Trying to find Buffalo Trace I called every store that showed limited inventory and full inventory and none of them had any in stock

    1. Are you still looking for Buffalo Trace?

  7. My husband manages wholesale accounts for a liquor store. This site is a nightmare because it is not accurate and not updated in real time. The Bourbon Chasers know the delivery day so they have taken to camping out in front of the store at 7 a.m. - TWO HOURS before it opens - in the cold with camp chairs and Coleman heaters. Those not in line call in all day long to ask what's available.