British Columbia

Extreme whisky fans force B.C. Liquor to hold random draws for premium spirit release

The change comes after someone tried to line up 17 days ahead of Nov. 3 release date.

Change comes after someone tried to line up 17 days ahead of Nov. 3 release date

Premium whisky and spirit fans will only be allowed to line-up for a maximum of three days prior to the sale. (Novacom)

The extreme dedication of whisky fanatics in B.C. is prompting a change in how the liquor distribution branch manages its annual premium spirit release.

Instead of a first-come, first-served model, customers will now need to enter in a random draw to determine their spot in line. The chance to purchase five of this year's most coveted bottles will also be determined by a draw.

The shift comes after someone tried setting up camp outside the B.C. Liquor store on Cambie Street weeks prior to the release date of Nov. 3.

"This year, people started lining up 17 days ahead," said Viviana Zanocco, a manager with the BC Liquor Distribution Branch.

"So that's early October and people were camped out in our parking lot."

She says it's the earliest they've ever seen anyone line up for the release.

Single malt valued at $30K

For die-hard lovers of whisky and spirits, the sale is an opportunity to purchase rare, sought-after bottles such as this year's prized 50-year-old single malt, the Bowmore 1966 Edition, valued at $30,500.

Zanocco said while the agency was "happy" to see how excited buyers were, they were also concerned about safety.

"Given the weather — it's raining, it's cold — we didn't think it would be very safe for people to be camping in our parking lot for two weeks just to purchase some product," she said.

The random draw will take place Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. outside B.C. Liquor stores participating in the release. Each person will receive one ballot starting at 9 a.m. Lining up early is not encouraged.

After you receive your spot in line, you're expected to remain there until the start of the sale on Saturday.

Depending on the liquor store you're lined-up at, tents and portable bathrooms may be available. Zanocco says the agency hopes this will make the process more fair and accessible.

She said they will consider adopting this line-up strategy for its popular Bordeaux wine release, depending on how successful it is.

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Lien Yeung


Lien Yeung hosts CBC Vancouver News Weekends. She has covered stories locally and nationally from Halifax to Victoria on television, radio and online. Find her on Instagram or Twitter @LienYeung or via email at