Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A PLCB Mystery - The Case (or Ten) Of The Missing Four Roses

Ever watchful, our intrepid sleuth is always on the lookout for ways the PLCB pays lip service to taking care of the citizens. 

On August 21st, Four Roses sent out a press release listing what this year's Four Roses Limited  Edition Small Batch will be, and more importantly, how MANY they planned to make. There was to be a release of about 12,600 bottles total. From what I have learned over the years, about 80% stay in the U.S., and the remainder are for the rest of the world. Can I prove it? No, allocation is a very closely-held card by the distillers and distributors, since there is always somebody who will take issue with it. Needless to say, like any other business, good customers usually will do better than ones that are more difficult (I bet you can see where this is going).

So about 10,000 bottles of this year's Limited Edition were destined for U.S. customers. Dividing up by state would yield 200 bottles per state. Great for North Dakota and Rhode Island; not so good for the rest of us. Allocating by population is a more fair way to guess, and with 4% of the U.S. population, Pennsylvania would get about 400 bottles.

So how many did we actually get? 24 bottles were announced to be sold in a lottery; registration ran from 8 a.m. Oct 26th to 11 p.m. Oct 31st. (No surprise that it didn't actually open until about 8:30 a.m.) But wait!  There's more! Right after the lottery was announced, I wrote a letter to the PLCB asking where all their buying power was and why they had such a poor relationship with the distributor that we got well below what we normally would have. Imagine my surprise when 3 days later, the PLCB announced they had gotten another 42 bottles to raffle off, for a grand total of 66, of which 16 would go to licensees.

No. This is not for you 
silly PA consumer.
Is that fair?  We'll never really know, because we won't know how many bottles the PLCB really had, since they had it listed as an SLO item in August, weeks before the lottery announcement. However, if you called and tried to order it you were told it was a "licensee only" item. So how many were sold to the bars and restaurants the first time, before they got ANOTHER chance? Why did the state get so few to begin with? Is this an indication of what is really thought of the PLCB? Or did the public just get screwed by the PLCB because a normal amount was allocated and they sold it to licensees first?

Also, who is watching all these lotteries?  The PA lottery is certified by outside public firms, the PLCB lottery is...what? I haven't seen or heard about any safeguards in place. Who checks to make sure this is all on the up and up? Are we just supposed to believe them? I'm not saying it isn't legitimate, but I am saying it is hard to believe, when the transparency at this agency is like looking in the Susquehanna after a rainstorm. They certainly haven't done anything to earn my trust so far.

Get rid of the state store system and move Pennsylvania back to normal.

P.S. For those keeping track we reached a small milestone. This is the 400th post of the blog.  It took us seven and a half years to get to this point.  Here is hoping that our job will be done long before we reach 500.

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