A Memphis Mecca for Whisky

After just four years in business, Doc’s has become a retail destination.

Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More (interior pictured) differentiates itself from other Memphis retailers with initiatives like its private label whiskey program.
Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More (interior pictured) differentiates itself from other Memphis retailers with initiatives like its private label whiskey program. (Photo by Erin Ortasic)

Since opening its doors in 2015, Memphis-area retailer Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More has proven to be more than a traditional liquor store. This 9,000-square-foot venue in the Memphis suburb of Germantown has cemented itself in the local drinks scene—with a particular focus on American whiskey. 

Spirits total 1,700 SKUs and comprise 45% of sales at Doc’s, including 300 SKUs of American whiskey. Also in the whiskey mix is a rotation of 4-6 staff-selected barrel picks—currently featuring Woodford Reserve, Knob Creek, Elijah Craig, Smooth Ambler, and Russell’s Reserve. Doc’s launched a private label whiskey program in March last year, and it’s gotten off to a fast start. The offerings, branded under the Doc.52 name, have included single-barrel Bourbons, rye, and a Bourbon-rye blend. Three of the Doc.52 private label releases have garnered 90-93 points from Whisky Advocate. Prices range from $50 a 750-ml. for the Two Barrel Blend to $85 for the 14-year-old Single Barrel Bourbon. The program recently launched the seventh release of its Doc.52 whiskey, a 9-year-old Bourbon that sold out in just a week.

The private label program has had a halo effect on other whiskey sales. Woodford Reserve ($50 a 750-ml.) is the store’s top-selling whiskey, and other popular labels include Jack Daniel’s ($41) and Bulleit ($41). Among local players, Doc’s stocks Blue Note Bourbon ($53), sourced from an undisclosed distillery, and Old Dominick Huling Station Bourbon ($36). Doc’s success with its whiskey helps differentiate the store from more traditional Memphis retailers.

Alongside private-label whiskey, Doc’s also offers six of its own private-label wines, including California-sourced Page 52 Chardonnay ($13 a 750-ml.) and the luxury Doc 52 Cabernet Sauvignon from Georges III Vineyard ($80). Wine comprises 43% of sales at Doc’s, and the store offers one of the most expansive wine sections in the Memphis area, with over 1,800 SKUs available.

The store carries 300 SKUs of imported wines, which include Château Blaignan Bordeaux ($20 a 750-ml.), Domaine Laroque Cabernet Franc ($13), and 90+ Cellars Lot 128 Gran Vino ($11) from Spain. The store also has more than 1,500 SKUs of domestic wine, including top-selling Meiomi Pinot Noir ($17), as well as Big Fire Pinot Noir by R. Stuart & Co. Winery ($20), Soil Power Pinot Noir by Sleight of Hand ($19), Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon ($14), and Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($19). “A lot of stores decided to cut out certain wine brands once the grocery stores started selling them, but we went a different route,” says general manager Ryan Gill. “We still have all the same brands that the grocery stores have, but at better prices.”

Beer accounts for approximately 9% of sales at Doc’s, which stocks 22-ounce bombers along with 4-packs and 6-packs, and also supplies a make-your-own-6-pack station and a growler station. Doc’s offers 16-ounce, 32-ounce, and 64-ounce growlers, with Meddlesome Brewing Co.’s 201 Hoplar ($11 a 64-ounce), Wiseacre Brewing Co.’s Ananda IPA ($9), and Schöfferhofer Grapefruit hefeweizen ($11) among the most popular options. Favorite local beers include Ghost River Brewing Co.’s Ghost River Golden Ale ($10 a 6-pack of 12-ounce bottles) and Wiseacre Brewing Co.’s Tiny Bomb American Pilsner ($10 a 6-pack of 12-ounce cans). An estimated 60% of the store’s beer sales are in craft, along with 20% mainstream and 20% Memphis-made. Doc’s also offers kegs—which can range from a one-sixth barrel of Budweiser for $55 to a half-barrel of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA for $300.

Doc’s also offers Memphis-made food products to-go, including Passione 12-inch Take and Bake pizzas ($9), Wolf River Popcorn bags and tins ($6-$10), Shotwell Candy Co.’s caramels ($6-$10), and Lux Chocolat packs ($18). The snacks are often incorporated into gift baskets, which are produced year-round. Food, mixers, and accessories make up 3% of the store’s sales. The food offerings also help give Doc’s a family-oriented vibe; parents can browse bottle aisles while their kids pick out snacks—or get root beer from the growler tap.