Saturday, January 8, 2011

Washington State Liquor 2011 - An Update For Rum Buyers

The new year brings hope for rum drinkers in Seattle in particular and Washington State in general. Before elaborating on recent developments in my positive rum forecast, I will note Washington State still controls the sales of liquor as it has since prohibition era. In 2010, several initiatives made the ballot to privatize liquor sales as a result of noncompetitive prices, less than favorable customer service and inconvenient hours of operation among others. These initiatives failed to pass. This topic is still smoking and although worthy of more debate, will be reserved for another time and post. I suspected changes in the 2011 post-initiative world, pass or fail, so I went to the stores with questions and more rum I found! Whenever in Washington, do as Washingtonians do and go to the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) website. It is user friendly and a fairly comprehensive resource for state liquor news and laws. It has products, prices and their locations which are more accurate than not in regards to product availability and inventory. That said, I would recommend contacting them by phone first if you mean to buy something specific. Perusing the online selection you will notice that top of the line rums are here! One can now find premium aged rums such as Appleton Estate 21yr, El Dorado 21yr, Clement XO, Ron Zacapa XO and Mt Gay 1703 in select locations. So are the prices top shelf to match you ask? Compared to those our neighbors enjoy in the free world (California), the prices are higher, but not unreasonable for many. Additionally, the variety of rum, including a few new rums and old favorites are now in stock. Outstanding! For most of us gas isn't cheap and time is running out, so where does one go to find quality and selection?
University Store
It is no secret that the Crown Hill and University District locations maintain a large selection of special order rums. So I went to each location for answers as to their rum status. John, who works at the newly located University store is always interested in helping fellow rummies find a new rum, talk rum news and advocate for keeping a diverse selection of quality rum on hand. At the Crown Hill location, the manager Tina goes out of her way to assist each person find or order the products they are looking for and exemplifies exceptional customer service. When I arrived, she was excited to tell me several new rums have just arrived! Domestic rums Sergeant Classick and Montanya Rum were being opened along with some old favorites, Angostura 1919 and its enigmatic counterpart Angostura 1824. You may not find these products on the website just yet (I checked a few minutes prior to this posting) Exciting news indeed! Washington State has also seen agricole rums blossom in selection as well thanks to efforts from a local rum aficionado bartender Rocky Yeh. The introduction of a couple of remarkable brands from Martinique, such as Rhum Clement and Rhum JM are welcome additions to Neisson and La Favorite Rhums. Take a look at the Clement XO and Clement Cuvee Homere, both delectable in bottle presentation and taste. If I told you Rhum JM 1997 may make an appearance soon, I would have to kill you, so I will keep quiet about this...hint, hint. Crown Hill illustrates its commitment to rum having over one full bay of shelving dedicated to special order rums with room to expand. Can't find the rum you want? Just provide Tina the brand and its distillery or US importer to get started. Customers requesting special orders must still go to the store location as the form is not available online presently. Only time will tell if consumers will see an overall improvement in pricing, access and customer service at WSLCB stores. In the meantime, rum lovers can take advantage of a larger and improved selection at stores that are rum-friendly.

Cheers to the Crown Hill and University locations for there dedication to rum!