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The Holidays are here and you have a person in your life who loves bourbon. They talk about it all the time and you know that getting a bottle for them would make them the happiest person in the world.
But here is the one problem that people just like yourself are faced with all across the United States: You can’t find it in stores.
For a few years now, there has been an explosion of bourbon enthusiasts that are hunting bourbon like never before. Desirable bottles that were once commonplace on the shelf can no longer be found.
The situation is much like how stores ran out of toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic: people didn’t really need all of that toilet paper at that exact moment but they heard it was going to get harder to find so they kept buying it everywhere they went.
Before you knew it, the shelves were bare and customers that were late to the party couldn’t find it anywhere. This is the world bourbon enthusiasts live in now.
The struggle is real on how to get these bottles and if you don’t have a person in your life that can help you out, you may be feeling pretty helpless right now.
So here’s the secret to getting that bottle for your loved one: Facebook groups. I’m going to be careful here and toe a very thin line because much of what I’m about to tell you gets into some pretty gray areas.
I am also going to leave some parts out that you will have to navigate on your own, but I want you to remember that the most important rule is to never exchange money with a person until you can see the product for yourself and evaluate that it is exactly what you’re trying to buy.
These days, scammers are plentiful and you will have your money stolen if you are not smart about it.
So here’s what you need to know about finding a bottle on Facebook. Step one is finding a group that is local to you. My suggestion is you type into the search bar your nearest city/town/metropolitan area.
You could even type in your state name, region or a familiar regional term such as “Gem City” or “Tri-City Area” followed by a mix of the following words:
Once you have found a group that is local, you’re going to have to join it. A majority of these groups vet incoming members and have very strict rules about no buying or selling. That’s still fine! Join them anyway.
There are usually some entry questions that you must answer to show you’re not a fake account or a stupid person. At no point should you be answering these questions with “I’m just here to buy Blanton’s” or something like that.
Join the groups with an open mind and say that you are wanting to learn more about bourbon. That is their purpose. That should be your purpose to, but I get it that you probably have better things to do.
Some groups may not let you join. So be it. Do not be mad at this, just move on and find another one. There are plenty more groups near you, you just have to find them.
When a group lets you join, I would highly suggest that you not post anything for several days. Immediately joining and asking “WHERE ALL THE BLANTONS AT” will get you kicked out.
Observe what the vibe is by scrolling through the posts and comments and seeing what people are talking about and how they are interacting.
Here is the part that is tricky, so you’ll need to use some common sense and fill in the blanks on your own. You’ll eventually have to post a question that you should probably word like this: “I’m looking to buy a bottle of Blanton’s (or whatever the bottle you are looking for is) for my (insert the affiliation of the person you’re looking for) for (insert holiday or occasion).
Has anyone seen a store that is carrying it? I would love to find one before (insert the date you know you need it by). It would help if you made the story a bit more personal than I spelled out too.
Here is a list of the biggest DOs and DON’Ts to put in your post:
- DO read the rules of the group. If it says “no buying or selling” that means you’re not allowed to talk about buying or selling bottles among other members
- DO NOT use dollar signs in your post
- DO NOT try to skirt the rules by “fishing.” Fishing is when you word a post so obvious that people know you’re trying to buy a bottle.
- DO NOT forget that if you’re new to the group, you’re on a short leash in regards to rules. Break any of them and you’ll get booted.
Now let’s navigate through this minefield you just wandered into. You’re going to get a handful of responses to that question, but they won’t be the answer you’re looking for. Here are the most common answers and what to do with them:
Their Response: “That bottle is garbage, they won’t like it. Get this instead”
You Should: Ignore this person or reply back at your own peril. You know what you want and this person is generally a troll or a know-it-all. Responding back to them in a negative way may get you booted from the group too.
Their Response: “I just saw that bottle at XXXX Store a few weeks ago”
You Should: Not think that going to that store right now would result in you finding that bottle. Allocated bottles are purchased the same day they are put out, sometimes within hours. It’s a fact of life now.
Their Response: “Call XXXX Store, they might have some”
You Should: Call them if you want, but realize that most stores won’t tell you they have an allocated bottle over the phone. Even if they do, they want you to physically go in person to find out. They can sell you more that way! But that takes gas money and your time.
This is the part that I cannot predict what will happen next for you, but be patient if you do not immediately get a bite. Do not be annoying and constantly post more inquiries.
You can “bump” your original post by replying to it every day with something like how you searched at a nearby store and still couldn’t find it and ask if anyone has heard anything.
Eventually, you should get a response, most likely in the form of a Direct Message (so check your Facebook Messenger often).
If a person replies directly to your post that they will sell you one, do not respond to them in that post! Send them a message through Messenger.
If a person reaches out and tells you that they have the bottle you’re looking for, then congratulations! Deals like this are typically not allowed to be posted on the main page of those Facebook groups.
This will usually result in getting banned or removed because Facebook does not allow public transactions of alcohol. At this point, you and the other person are now interacting as two individual entities, so proceed in Messenger at your own risk.
Here are the DOs and DON’Ts of how to proceed:
- DO ensure that the person you are dealing with is local and within a drivable distance that you are comfortable with. If they are not, tell them as much and thank them for their time.
- DO ask to see a picture of the bottle. Some buyers have gone as far as to ask for a picture of the bottle with a piece of paper with a specific word or maybe today’s date next to the bottle. This proves the person has it and you get to verify that’s what you want.
- DO agree on a price. There can be some haggling here, but tread carefully. Realize that you will not be paying retail prices for it, but knowing a fair secondary value for the bottles will go a long way. Consult with our Bourbon Brown Book for a proper value but realize that everything is fluid and could change. Generally, Blanton’s is anywhere from $100 to $120 on the secondary market. At a story it is usually $60 before tax.
- DO NOT waste the seller’s time by asking unnecessary questions or dragging out a decision. It’s okay to say “Thank you for the offer, but I need to get back with you after I think it over” and take a day to think about it. Most people that have extras aren’t going to just open them up and drink them the next day. They buy extras for the purpose of trading or selling to make a little extra money (that is the gray area part and I am not condoning it)
- DO come to an agreement on a time and place for the transaction to go down. You could treat this just like a Craigslist deal and meet in a neutral location, but sometimes the person will give you their home address instead (there’s not a lot of money at stake here so the effort of driving somewhere might not be worth it to them). A home address is not really a red flag, but it may help to use Google Maps or Google Street View to look at the neighborhood prior to committing. Just know that if you are the buyer, the burden will be on you to go to where the seller is, not the other way around. This is not Amazon and unless they are really nice, they will not drive to your house.
- DO NOT pay them until you see the bottle. It is perfectly acceptable to not pre-pay anyone to hold onto a bottle unless you’ve done business with them before.
- DO agree with the seller on how they want to be paid. Sometimes a seller will only accept a digital payment (Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, CashApp). Sometimes they will accept cash. Just know that when you are paying them digitally, you MUST NOT WRITE ANY COMMENT ABOUT IT BEING FOR ALCOHOL. This is extremely important. If you pay them with PayPal, leave the notes blank. For Venmo, use an emoji like pizza, a peach or an eggplant. But do not under any circumstances write what it’s actually for.
- DO inspect the bottle or package when you get it. Blanton’s should have the wax intact around the cork. It may or may not come with the Blanton’s Bag and Box (not all stores sell them this way). Ensure that nothing has been tampered with before buying.
- DO be kind with the seller and don’t bombard them with a ton of questions like “Where did you originally get this?” and “How much did you originally pay?” That’s none of your business.
Even with my step-by-step process, I realize that there are many things that could be different for you and your experience. I can’t help you with every situation, but here are the basic rules to abide by just in case your buying experience is different.
- Somebody out there might need to hear this, but if you are getting a bottle for a person as a surprise gift, make sure that the group you join doesn’t have that person in it already. The surprise will be ruined when you start asking about where to find your bottle. Check the list of members when you get accepted into them. This leads me to my next statement which might be the most important one of all:
- If you join a bourbon group, you should absolutely look through the list of members to see if you have any friends you already know. This could go a long way towards cutting through all of the steps I just told you about by simply contacting the person you already know and asking if they can help you out. You’d be surprised by how many of your friends and acquaintances are into bourbon. It’s a growing hobby and is pretty much everywhere these days.
- If you are new to bourbon, do not go down the path of purchasing a bottle that the seller says they will ship to you. People are getting scammed all the time online by sending money and never receiving a bottle. Scammers are even impersonating your own local stores and telling people to send them the money first and then swing by the store to pick it up. Always pay when you meet the person face to face. Do not have bottles shipped to you.
- If it seems like its too good to be true, it probably is. Bourbon enthusiasts know the value of their bottles and getting them to budge on the price even by as little as $10 has resulted in failed sales. Tread very lightly if anyone is going to sell you a bottle “at cost.”
- Do not try to change the price you are paying when you link up with your seller. This is not Craigslist. Agree on all prices and terms beforehand and only back out if the bottle looks suspicious. Bourbon groups talk to each other and if you’re a bad buyer, there are groups where people post the names of bad buyers so that others won’t deal with them.
- If you’re not having any bites in your group, try another. Most people out there might not have spare bottles to sell. Some just won’t sell what they have. Some groups are too small and inexperienced. There’s always another one out there.
I hope these tips serve you well and that you get that special bottle for your special somebody. I also hope that if you’re a member of a bourbon group who is getting upset at this post that you realize I mean no harm by it nor am I trying to get Facebook to ban your group.
I think that there are a lot of people who can be beneficial to our community and that they just don’t know where to start. Most importantly I hope that this encourages strangers to meet with one another and maybe find something that they have in common.
Bourbon brings us together and it is my hope that this post can spread the love around a little bit more.
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