Bottle service: Quick tips for scoring that elusive whiskey


Like this generation’s Cabbage Patch Kids, Tickle Me Elmo or Beanie Babies, some names in whiskey draw huge lines wherever they appear—and you probably won’t get a bottle.

As production struggles to meet demand, finding that elusive Pappy Van Winkle, Willett or Old Forester Birthday Bourbon has never been harder. A few years ago, almost every liquor store in the Valley offered waiting lists, ensuring you at least had a shot if you got your name on early. But those waiting lists are all gone, even at boutique stores like Khoury’s. It has caused feeding frenzies. Last October, Total Wine received a shipment of William Larue Weller at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday. It was gone by 11 a.m.

So how do you get yours? It boils down to a two-pronged strategy: 1. Work your ass off. 2. Network like crazy. One Total Wine rep suggested getting to know someone who works at a distributor to get the “inside track” on upcoming shipments. Or get to know someone who knows someone ... you get the idea.

At Khoury’s, manager Michael Romero says following the store on social media is the best way to stay a step ahead. But if you’re a regular who’s always asking about a certain product, the store will do what it can to accommodate you. I’ll relate two personal experiences to illustrate my point:

On a recent visit to pick up some beer, Romero spotted me and quickly darted in back, emerging with several bottles of Willett Family Estate bourbon and rye that had not been put on the shelf. It had been months since I inquired and more than a year since my last Willett purchase, but Khoury’s staff remembered me for my persistence.

My most recent acquisition, Balvenie’s Tun 1509, was relatively straightforward: I told Mike I was interested, and he called me as soon as a shipment came in.

Bottom line: Don’t just shop at your liquor store. Get to know everyone. You’ll get yours.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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