So I’ve heard before that Costco has good deals on single-malt Scotch. I also discovered that you don’t need a membership to shop for liquor there. Just tell the gorilla at the door that you are only purchasing liquor and you can go right in. (Note: You actually have to stick to that – they check membership cards at the register, so if you’ve got anything other than liquor with you, you can’t buy it). The inventory will of course shift drastically, and is never very extensive to begin with, but what they’ve got, they’ve got at GOOD prices. Here are the prices I marked down at my local Costco in Folsom, CA: (This is every bottle of Single-Malt they had). [Update 2015: These prices are now out-of-date, as whisky prices rise across the board. Consider these prices to be really good deals if you see them anywhere.]
Lagavulin 16 year $63 – compare at $65 K&L Wines, $80 Bevmo
Oban 14 year $55 – compare at $60 K&L Wines, $70 Bevmo
Macallan 15 year Fine Oak $67 – compare at $60 K&L Wines, $84 Bevmo (not a good deal)
Macallan 12 year $37 – compare at $43 K&L Wines, $38 (sale) Bevmo
Glenlivet 12 year $22 – compare at $24 K&L Wines, $26 Bevmo
Highland Park 12 year $36 – compare at $39 K&L Wines, $40 Bevmo
Stronachie 12 year $37 – compare at $50 K&L Wines, $46 Bevmo
Glenmorangie 10 year [1.75 Liter] $55 – compare (BY VOLUME) $84 K&L Wines, $82 Bevmo
They also had their Kirkland brand Macallan 18 (It’s Macallan whisky aged by an independent bottler for the noted 18 years, and then bottled for Kirkland) for $80 ish. Certainly a fantastic price compared to the $120-$150 that an Official Bottling of Macallan 18 can fetch. Some reviewers think the Scotch is aged less expertly, and may or may not carry the same level of quality of an Official Bottling, but for 50% of the price, it’s hard to argue with. Update: According to WhiskyCast’s 302 episode, the bottling is from casks (of single malt) that were earmarked by Macallan as destined for blending, which perhaps explains the less-than-equivalent quality of the Kirkland malt.
Note that I went to another Northern California Costco a few months ago and found only three selections: The Kirkland Macallan, a Glenlivet, and a Glenfiddich. Your mileage may vary, both by location and seasonally. Also note that in many states, Costco cannot legally sell alcohol.
Update August 2015: A reader informed me that Costco in Georgia now requires a membership to purchase alcohol, due a recent law change. Check with your local Costco before going in to purchase alcohol if you don’t have a membership.