Canepa gets high marks, if not from all retail customers in Ohio, at least from those familiar with the bourbon world, like Jason Callori of Columbus, who has a popular YouTube channel called Mash & Drum dedicated to bourbon. He arrived in Ohio when Canepa took over the state’s liquor operations.
“Ohio did a much better job bringing in stuff,” Callori said. “When I first moved here I was like, ‘Dude, there are a lot of brands not here that I could find in New York’, but it really got better.”
Callori also gives Canepa high marks for introducing new premium brands introduced by popular distillers and for its success in bringing certain bottles exclusively to Ohio.
But, perhaps most importantly, said Callori, Canepa has cleaned up the market.
“All the special bottles that were coming in were going to the workers (at the liquor store) and not the community. Jim kind of changed that, and now we’re kind of Weller’s country,” Callori said.
Canepa said he has no tolerance for shenanigans like insider shops.
He also warns people against buying alcohol in Ohio and trying to sell it elsewhere for more money, as it would have done via obscure groups on social media.
“If you have a license to sell, you sell it – in a bar, restaurant, casino or liquor store. If you don’t have a license to sell it, you can’t sell it,” he said. declared Canepa. “It’s called contraband. And it’s not an Ohio rule, it’s a US rule.”
Callori wouldn’t even discuss aftermarket sales in depth. He said he knew they were performing, but when he mentioned them his audience reacted with anger.
“The first rule of Fight Club is not to talk about Fight Club,” Callori said.
Fortunately, you don’t have to get bleeding to buy bourbon in Ohio or break any laws. You just have to want it enough to make an effort.
The state, however, has found new ways to make things fair without queuing. Today Ohio runs online lotteries for the best bottles, which Canepa said was an idea from Mark Brown, a modern bourbon icon and CEO of Sazerac Co., which makes popular brands like Buffalo Trace and the legendary Pappy Van Winkle.
Canepa said he asked Brown what he needs to do to get Pappy’s into Ohio. “Sell it fairly,” he said when told, and the lottery was suggested.
Ohio has adopted the lottery system and as a result Pappy’s is sometimes, but not often, available in stores in Ohio.
When it does, it sells for $ 119 for a bottle of the 15-year-old version, which might be the best buy in all of bourbon. It sells for $ 3,000 a bottle elsewhere.
Yeah – a sip, indeed.