Liquor retailers could make the holiday season saner for harried hosts if they take advantage of new state rules, set to take effect this weekend, legalizing the home delivery of spirits.
Internet sales, shipping and delivery were previously restricted to beer and wine. The new rule -- which was filed last month despite opposition from the Washington Beer & Wine Distributors Association and a few citizens who argued the change could make liquor more accessible to minors -- allows consumers to remotely order spirits from licensed retailers.
At least one retailer is already shipping spirits to Washington customers: According to Total Wine & More's FAQ page, the seller ships "wine, spirits and gifts" to six states, including Washington. Although I stopped short of entering a credit card number, I didn't encounter any issues when I tried to order a bottle of Jack Daniel's to my office.
According to the rule, existing spirits licensees are required to notify the state liquor control board before offering online sales. Board spokesperson Mikhail Carpenter says there's "no way of knowing" how many retailers will ultimately opt to process orders online since "the rule change has not taken effect yet."
But what's perhaps most intriguing to the state's drinkers is the possibility of free home delivery, a standard amenity in other jurisdictions where the service is permitted. New York Times readers are accustomed to ads from spirits retailers offering to bring bottles to Manhattan customers' doors. And earlier this year, Booze Carriage -- an on-demand delivery service hawking "your favorite beer, wine or liquor, for the same as you would pay in your local store, all without having to leave the couch" -- opened for business in New York City.
A BevMo! publicist didn't have any information available about the retailer's home delivery plans, but the service hasn't been ruled out at Total Wine & More. According to Edward Cooper, Total Wine & More's vice president of public affairs and community relations, "Home delivery is something we're seriously looking into, but have no plans at this time."
Whether the new rules will be extended to cover craft distilleries is still under discussion; the state liquor control board is accepting public comments through Jan. 15.