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Do We Still Need a Legally-Mandated Three-Tier Drinks System?

Booze Politics

Three-tier systemCharles K. Cowdery is the author of Bourbon, Strange: Surprising Stories of American Whiskey (2014); Bourbon, Straight: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey (2004) and The Best Bourbon You’ll Never Taste (2012). He writes:

In 1933, a compulsory three-tier system seemed like the best way to solve those problems. It allowed a state’s beverage control authority to regulate producers and producer practices through the distributors, who as in-state businesses would have to obey the authority’s rulings. Very little has changed in the more than 80 intervening years, and not because the system works so well. In fact, it has become a hollow shell. In-state ownership is a joke. Most distribution companies now are national enterprises that merely have subsidiaries in each state. Cross-tier ownership has become common; drinks-makers establish subsidiaries – often in the names of different members of the owner’s family – that buy stakes in tier-two distributors. This is why small brewers, distillers and vintners so often complain that their products can’t get shelf space.

Yet the pre-Prohibition abuses are no longer a problem, because they are regulated in other ways….

Read more at:


What Are the Top Single Malt Scotch Whiskies In America?

Source: Shanken News Daily from IMPACT Database
Source: Shanken News Daily from Impact Databank.

As fanatics for Laphraoig, we’re delighted at the leap in its sales. Read more at:


Great Drinks for Dad On Father’s Day


El BuhoMan does not live by bread alone. And a father, well, he needs even more, what with the middle of the night wake-ups, the tantrums, and the exploded filthy diapers. I have four children. Under the age of 10. Just this evening, my four-year old got out of bed 7 or 8 times with assorted excuses, including “My eye hurts.”

Yes, my needs are many.

Come father’s day, my hope is that I can slip out at the sunrise and head to the river. There I’ll rent a rowboat, and make my way onto the water still turbid from today’s rain. Cormorants and other birds will lead me to a promising spot. I’ll pitch my anchor, bait treble hook rigs, and let the heavy line from two rods sink in the Potomac. With any luck, the catfish will hit, and I’ll return to dock midday feeling like a master caster.

That’s how I want to start my day.

And I will conclude Dad Day sitting outside with a glass in hand. A special day justifies a special drink, one I know and love. The possibilities are many, but any of these would do quite nicely:

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon: I really like this whiskey. It comes in a bulbous, perfume-like bottle that shows its deep amber color. Sometimes I can handle this 90 proof drink straight up; but usually I prefer it with a single ice cube, which softens it so I can better enjoy its rich flavors. It is worth every penny of the $30 to $35 a bottle my local retailer charges. Keep reading


Distilled Spirits Sales Are Up and Under-Age Drinking Is Down


Well, here are two happy trends. reports that the U.S. spirits industry is producing more and garnering more revenue. The upward trends have continued for a decade. (Read more at

Forbes Spirits Volume
Source: Treflis for

And a Centers for Disease Control survey shows teen drinking is down. (See full study and data at

Source: CDC.
Source: CDC.

Pennsylvania’s Drinks Reform Changes Too Little

Booze Politics

PennsylvaniaThe Keystone State’s Legislature could have gone big. Instead, it settled for a bill that is about as potent as near beer. Only the politicians are likely to be satisfied.

Gov. Tom Wolf yesterday signed the bill previously passed by both chambers of the Legislature. Lawmakers and media are ballyhooing the statute. House Speaker Mike Turzai declared:

We are, in fact, going to move Pennsylvania into the 21st century … It is an important, historic step and this is a product that is shared by all of us.” Various media outlets have called the reforms “sweeping” and “historic,” said “buying alcohol may get a whole lot easier.


The compromise legislation does end a couple of the most ridiculous aspects of the Pennsylvania drinks system….(Read more at the R Street Institute Blog)



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