Virginia ABC > Products > Limited Availability > FAQs

Limited Availability FAQs

Why is Virginia ABC changing its distribution methods for certain products?

In the past few years, Virginia ABC has taken notice of certain products, especially special releases of bourbons and other whiskies, being highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts.  We have also been asked by many customers to establish new methods of distribution that allowed the maximum number of Virginians an opportunity to purchase very highly sought after products. For a number of these products, the amount of product offered from our suppliers is very limited compared with the anticipated demand for the product. For this reason, Virginia ABC has chosen to distribute these high-demand, low-availability products through online ordering and lotteries.

What are the new distribution methods Virginia ABC is employing?

Online Ordering. Virginia ABC will make a product available for purchase on its website at a given date and time. Customers may purchase the product until inventory is depleted, at which time the online ordering function will be deactivated and a notice will be placed on the product detail page explaining that online sales have concluded.

Lottery. Virginia ABC will offer customers the opportunity to purchase a bottle of a product through a random drawing. A web form on the Virginia ABC website will collect customer contact information and a store number to which the product will be shipped for pickup. At the close of the submission process, a drawing of entries will be held using random number generating software. Customers will need to complete the sale by visiting their local Virginia ABC store and purchasing their bottle. The entry form will be available online for a period of 48 hours unless otherwise noted. There is no advantage to entering the lottery as soon as it opens. Everyone who enters during the entry period has an equal chance of being selected. Odds depend on the number of entries received and the number of bottles available.

How will Virginia ABC determine which distribution method will be used for a given product?

Virginia ABC will make decisions about the distribution method employed for products on a case-by-case basis. Factors that will be considered in this decision include prior sales history of the product (if it’s a product that’s been sold previously), demand for the product and the number of bottles the manufacturer or supplier provided to Virginia ABC.

Which products are covered by this policy?

Throughout the year, suppliers offer Virginia ABC special releases of products. Because of the unknown nature of the product(s) we may or may not be offered by our suppliers, we do not have a list of all such products. However, Virginia ABC anticipates that the products offered via our new distribution methods will include highly sought after bourbons, whiskies, scotches, tequilas and other small batch spirits offerings.

Why are quantities of these products so limited?

For business reasons, spirits manufacturers and suppliers often choose to, or are required by their own internal policies, to limit the quantity of each product they distribute in a particular state at a given time. When this occurs, a state does not have control over the number of bottles it receives to sell to customers. Product allocation amounts are determined by spirits manufacturers and suppliers.

Who can participate in a lottery?

Lottery drawings for selected limited availability products will be open to customers who are Virginia residents, are 21 years of age or older and who present valid identification at their local Virginia ABC store when completing their purchase of a bottle for which they have been selected to purchase. Drawings will also be open to current, active-status Virginia mixed beverage licensees whose licenses authorize the resale of spirits for on-premise consumption. Separate drawings will be held for individual customers and mixed beverage licensees, respectively.

Why are bottles set aside for mixed beverage licensees?

Since sales to mixed beverage licensees amount to 18 percent of Virginia ABC’s annual sales, each lottery drawing will set aside a proportional amount of bottles from the product supplier for purchase by mixed beverage licensees. Licensed retail establishments contribute tax revenue to state and local economies, therefore this allotment of bottles will allow them to respond to the needs of their on-premise customers.

How do I participate in a lottery drawing?

Individual customers and licensees may enter a lottery for limited availability products through a lottery form made available on the Virginia ABC website during the announced entry period, which will typically be a 48-hour period and will be announced through various channels ahead of the start date of the entry period. When the lottery is open, a link to the entry form will be provided on the Limited Availability Products page. The entry form will collect an individual or licensee customer’s first and last name, email address, contact telephone number and chosen store for product shipment. In addition, current, active-status mixed beverage licensee customers must enter a valid Virginia ABC mixed beverage license number. Entries are limited to one per individual customer and one per licensed establishment. Representatives of mixed beverage licensed establishments may submit one entry for their respective licensed establishment. There is no advantage to entering the lottery as soon as it opens. Everyone who enters during the entry period has an equal chance of being selected. Odds depend on the number of entries received and the number of bottles available.

How does a multi-item lottery drawing work?

In cases where multiple items are offered through a single lottery form, individual customers and licensees may enter any or all of the available drawings on that particular lottery offering.

How will the drawings be conducted?

Virginia ABC will conduct the drawing for winners within seven days of the close of the lottery entry period. Customer contact information will be screened prior to drawings. Duplicate entries by a single customer or licensee will be deleted prior to the drawing. Entries from mixed beverage licensees entering an invalid license number will be deleted prior to the drawing. The drawing of entries will be done using random number generating software. Virginia ABC’s Internal Audit Division will validate the results of each drawing. The odds of being selected and given the opportunity to purchase a bottle from one of Virginia ABC’s product lotteries depends on the number of entries received. The number of bottles available and the number of entries will change with each lottery.

How do I know if I'm selected?

Customers and licensees whose entry is selected during the random drawing process will be notified via email that their entry was selected and that the product is being shipped to the store they chose on their entry form. Once their bottle arrives at their selected store—which will take between 14 and 21 days—store staff will contact the customer using the phone number and email address they provided on their entry form.

How will I know if I don't get selected?

Email notifications will not be sent to customers who did not win an opportunity to purchase a given product.

What happens to unclaimed bottles?

Bottles that remain unclaimed for more than two weeks after delivery will be placed on the store shelf for sale. Bottles for which the original winner is determined to be ineligible to purchase will be placed on the store shelf for sale on the next business day. Bottles in both of these cases will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis with no customer holds allowed. Virginia ABC employees will not be eligible to purchase unclaimed bottles.

I've been granted the opportunity to purchase a bottle. How do I get it?

Your bottle will be shipped to the store you selected on your entry form within 14 to 21 days. Once it arrives at the store, store staff will contact you via the phone number and/or email address you provided on your entry form. Once your store has contacted you, you may pick up your bottle. You will need to present a valid form of photo identification displaying the same name you entered on your entry form and a valid Virginia address. Entrants may not pick up bottles for other customers. Bottles will not be released to customers who do not display valid identification. Customers will be required to pay the full purchase price of the bottle, plus applicable taxes. 

How do restaurants get limited availability products?

Online ordering is a little different for businesses with a mixed beverage license (licensees), such as restaurants. If a mixed beverage licensee is interested in purchasing products being sold exclusively on Virginia ABC's website, that licensee must contact their ABC store. Licensees may not request that their ABC store order a bottle before the product is made available to customers (when a green "Add to Cart" button appears next to the product on the website) and stores will not keep waiting lists. The store will place the mixed beverage licensee order for up to five bottles of each product (the same amount customers can order on Virginia ABC's website).

For bottles denoted as "one bottle per customer per visit," licensees may purchase one bottle per licensed establishment per visit if inventory is available at the store to satisfy the licensee’s request. Licensee requests will not take precedence over retail customer requests in the distribution of limited availability products.

For products Virginia ABC offers via a lottery, current, active-status Virginia mixed beverage licensees may enter on Virginia ABC's website for the opportunity to purchase a bottle. Everyone enters on the same form. Licensees will need to provide their license number.

Virginia ABC will allocate a percentage of each product for mixed beverage licensees to ensure there is some available that will not be sold directly to customers.

If I win the opportunity to purchase a Limited Availability Product but don’t want it, can I sell my bottle to someone else?

No. Unlicensed persons or entities are prohibited from selling alcohol in Virginia regardless of price. Trying to sell spirits purchased from Virginia ABC to another party could result in a Class 1 misdemeanor charge.

How can I stay informed about future special product offerings?

There are several ways by which Virginia ABC will notify customers of upcoming limited availability product releases:
•  The product description page for the specific product.
•  Sign up for the Spirited Virginia e-newsletter using the form at the bottom of the home page.
•  Like the Spirited Virginia Facebook page.
•  Follow the Virginia ABC’s Twitter account.

Additional questions?

View our FAQs for products in general.

Spirited Virginia magazine Q1 2020

Spirited Virginia is your guide to new products, creative cocktails, in-store tastings, promotions and what's hot in the world of spirits and entertaining (21 or older).

Social Media

Follow Spirited Virginia on Facebook.

Quarterly Magazine

Spirited Virginia Q1 2020

Read it online or pick up a free copy at your local Virginia ABC store. View past issues.


Sign up for the Spirited Virginia e-newsletter to stay informed about the latest news about products.