State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

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PLCB's latest move to draw consumers? Auctioning really old scotch.

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Mar 4, 2019 7:46 PM

Both the Macallan 1949 Cask No. 935 Single Malt Scotch Highland and the Macallan 1989 Cask No. 3247 Single Malt Scotch Highland 21-year-old are being auctioned off by the PLCB. (Courtesy of the PLCB)

(Harrisburg) -- In recent years, pressure has been building for Pennsylvania to privatize its state-run liquor industry.

One of the common arguments against continued state control is that wine and liquor selection and quality in stores run by the Liquor Control Board can't keep pace with independent stores in other states.

The PLCB has done a lot to change that perception over the years, from redecorating, to mixing up the available booze, to adding the word "fine" to their ubiquitous Wine and Spirits stores.

The board's latest gambit involves auctioning off some extremely expensive scotch.

How expensive?

The starting bid for the 52-year-old Macallan 1949 Cask No. 935 Single Malt Scotch Highland is $25,000.

Board spokesman Shawn Kelly said its not really about making money. It's an attempt to rectify what has often seemed like an inherent problem with a state-run liquor industry.

"We started a limited-release lottery a few years ago when it was becoming increasingly difficult for our customers to find bottles of product they were having trouble acquiring," he said. "This is another step in that direction."

He said if this first auction goes well and the PLCB manages to get ahold of another, similarly rare bottle of liquor, they may consider holding another auction in the future.

Kelly couldn't say exactly how the PLCB came by this scotch, or even where it's being stored.

The board also has a 21-year-old bottle for a starting bid of $9,000.

Scotch aficionados have until April 5th to submit bids.

The state legislature's last serious bid to break up state control of the  liquor industry came in 2017. Top Republicans, like House Speaker Mike Turzai, remain strong proponents of privatization.

So far, no bills have been introduced this legislative session that would do so.

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