Nationwide liquor shortage impacting local Rochester stores

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester area shops are feeling the impact of nationwide alcohol shortages. Thomas Williams, the owner of Time for Wine & Spirits on South Avenue says there are some products he has not seen for months.

"I’ve been out of a bourbon since July, I’ve been out of a tequila since mid-August," Williams said.

Local liquor stores are saying issues with packaging and shipping drivers are partly to blame for the shortage, which is part of the reason why your favorite booze are not on the shelf. During the pandemic, liquor sales were through the roof because "cocktail hour" was spent at home during lockdown. So, if your favorite label is not available, it is because of supply chain issues – all caused by COVID.

"I check on my backorders every week to see what the problem is, and the usual response from the sales rep,” Williams said.

If it cannot be packed, it cannot be shipped, therefore the only option is finding substitutes for your favorite bubbly.

"There are many manufactures that make the same type of product or similar that we try to guide our customers to as a replacement to have similar taste and similar cost,” said Nelson Habecker, the owner of East Avenue Liquor and Wine.

States like Vermont, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania have had this persistent issue. Some taking it a step further by implementing purchase limits to ration supply. Williams says he thinks the distributors should be making limits.

"We’ve seen that in the past with the cognac shortage, the cognac’s were limited to one case per size to each store, so the distributors should have done that and put a limit on it," Habecker said.

"I do think wholesalers are doing a good job of making sure all the stores are getting some portion of the products that are in short supply,” he added.

It is not just packaging. If you put something in a box it still has to be delivered, right? Well, part of this problem is the shortage of truck drivers, too.

So, how long until you can "cheers" to your favorite brew? It’s a question that might not have an answer.

"All we can do is sit tight and wait for that stuff to come in,” Williams said.

News10NBC spoke to multiple liquor stores in the area and they said they do not foresee their business limiting the sale of certain products.