San Francisco-based Wine.com, the country’s No.-1 online wine retailer, recently introduced online spirits sales in New York and Florida, and is now launching them in New Jersey as well. “We’ve been licensed for spirits since 1999 in both New York and New Jersey, but never executed,” says Michael Osborn, founder and executive vice president at Wine.com. “In Florida, it was a new license to add. Our California launch is awaiting final approvals from city and state agencies, but is on track for the fall.”
Customer demands fueled by the cocktail craze led Wine.com to add spirits to its repertoire. “We added spirits to better service our customers, in particular our StewardShip members who were asking for the addition,” Osborn notes.
Wine.com’s spirits sales are intrastate, but the company is limited as to where it can offer spirits to its customers. “As far as new states, or rather, interstate shipping, we’ll be watchful for regulatory changes that would be required to support this,” Osborn explains. With a goal of surpassing 2,000 spirits SKUs, Wine.com currently offers 1,450 spirits SKUs in New York and 1,237 in Florida. “We’re not quite to a full plan on the selection yet,” Osborn says. “It’s driven by our supplier relationships, but we’re dependent on wholesaler execution and inventory.”
Launched July 31, Wine.com’s spirits sales are off to a fast start, with the average selling price at roughly $47 a 750-ml.—notably higher than the $31 average selling price for a 750-ml. of wine. “We expect our customers to enjoy spirits at a slightly higher price,” Osborn says. Customers can view spirits on the company’s website by style, region, size, and reviews, and then sort them alphabetically or by price, ratings, popularity, or what’s considered most interesting. “Expanding the assortment will be driven by our customer feedback and our continued positive results,” Osborn says.
The company’s New York spirits selection ranges from Ezra Brooks Kentucky Straight Bourbon or Heaven Hill Mellow Corn Kentucky Straight whiskey (both $14 a 750-ml.) to Hennessy Richard Cognac ($4,600). In Florida, Wine.com’s spirits prices range from $14 a 750-ml. bottle of Jim Beam or Ezra Brooks Kentucky Straight Bourbon to $4,500 a 750-ml. of Ledaig 42-year-old Dusgadh single malt Scotch. Whisk(e)y and Tequila lead spirits offerings by available selections with 561 and 203 SKUs, respectively, but many other categories are represented, among them cordials and liqueurs; rum; brandy and Cognac; vodka; gin; and mezcal. Within whisk(e)y, single malt and blended Scotches combine for nearly half of the offerings, while Bourbons, ryes, and Irish whiskies also have large selections available. Among spirits produced in the U.S., offerings from Kentucky and California lead Wine.com’s lists in New York and Florida, with 305 and 257 overall U.S. SKUs being offered in each state, respectively. Brands from 21 states, including New York, Tennessee, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, Utah, and Florida, are available.