When hunting for whiskey in an ABC state like North Carolina, it can be tempting to shop online for some rare, hard to find bottles. Online liquor store orders in North Carolina are tricky thanks to strict NC alcohol control laws, but there are some options. Full transparency: they aren’t great options.
If you’re a serious collector and have some coin to spend, it might be worth checking online retailers. Usually rare bottles are marked up on the secondary market. It’s not unheard of for rare seasonal releases like George T. Stagg and Pappy Van Winkle to run 10x the normal retail price. But that’s capitalism!
Are Online Liquor Stores Legal in NC?
North Carolina is an Alcoholic Beverage Control state, so the laws around buying, selling, and shipping booze are pretty tight. Most online whiskey and bourbon vendors are not allowed to ship to North Carolina, so your options are pretty slim. If they do, they will pass any risk onto you, as the buyer. We’ve set up a curated shop to find in-stock products from our favorite retailers. You can browse here, it’s updated daily!
ReserveBar is the latest recommendation we’ve seen. They seem to have reasonable prices on most things ($40 for Buffalo Trace). Let me know in the comments if you have success (or, if you don’t have success). They also have great glassware. In addition, they offer free shipping on orders of at least $99, which is amazing for whiskey.
The best option right now, it would seem, is 1-877-Spirits. They offer NC favorites including Blanton’s and Buffalo Trace, as well as other great whiskey products. Their stock is a bit more reliable, but you might pay high prices for the convenience. Their custom engraved bottles of whiskey and decanters make great gifts, too. Best of all, they ship to North Carolina. Shop bourbon selections on 1-877-Spirits and see what you think.
Until recently, Mash&Grape seemed to be the #1 retailer that will ship to NC. They have a great selection of whiskey but no longer ship to North Carolina. This site has a pretty good selection of bourbons that aren’t usually on shelves in NC, and their DSS member service (free to join, I believe) offers discounts on shipping. Check out their availability for rare NC finds like Weller Special Reserve or Smoke Wagon. Give them a shot.
I’ve also recently found that The Whiskey Dealer will deliver to NC (for now). They seem like a newer service, and their inventory is hit or miss, but I have seen Smoke Wagon and some other interesting bottles on there, so it’s worth a browse.
Additionally, now might be a great time to consider a bourbon subscription plan like Flaviar. In North Carolina, this can be a great way to try unique bourbon and other whiskey from around the country that doesn’t get stocked in our ABC Stores. Especially if you’re new to the hobby, you can use these subscription boxes to broaden your whiskey horizons.
Drizly (affiliate) is one of the more popular online alcohol retailers, but they won’t ship hard liquor to North Carolina. If you’re in another state, though, I recommend giving it a shot.
Uptown Spirits is one such online retailer that is licensed in control states, so there may be some luck finding them there. I’ve also heard that seelbachs.com is a viable option. As previously mentioned, expect rare bottles to go for premium prices.
NC Hard To Find Whiskeys
Here are a few examples of some bourbon you might not find on NC ABC store shelves:
Ordering Beer and Wine Online
Beer and wine is much easier to come by than liquor, especially in North Carolina. The tax laws a bit more lax, so delivery is easier. Drizly (affiliate) usually has a great selection of wine available. Total Wine is a good option for beer and wine, and Amazon is always trusty here, too.
Out Of State Orders
I know not all readers here are from North Carolina. You might have some better options (but liquor laws vary wildly between states).
One popular online liquor store worth checking out is Bounty Hunter Rare Wines and Spirits. They were once my top recommendation for NC readers, but they appear to have recently limited what they will ship to North Carolina. Bounty Hunter feels a lot like shopping at your local liquor store. Some cities/states also have access to same-day delivery through platforms like Drizly.
Alternatives to Online Liquor Orders
If the online retailers seem sketchy, or their prices too steep (both true, in my opinion), you might have some other options.
Consider joining a Facebook group or community and trying to trade for a bottle. Facebook has recently cracked down on groups designed to buy and sell whiskey, but you might be able to trade a rare bottle you already own for one you want!