Costco Liquor: 4 Things You Gotta Know Before You Buy

August 24, 2017 by Kyle
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Saving money by purchasing Costco liquor is one of the many terrific ways the warehouse club can help you save. But before you buy alcohol from Costco in the future, there are a few important things you should know. So whether it’s beer, wine, or hard liquor, be sure to shop smart, sip enthusiastically, and above all, drink responsibly. Cheers!

Costco Liquor: 4 Things You Gotta Know

1. No Membership Required to Buy Costco Liquor (in Many States)

Thanks to a little known post-prohibition law, some states cannot require a membership to buy alcohol for off-site sales. With their $60 annual membership, Costco fits the bill.

I contacted Costco and they informed me that the following 14 states allow you to walk into the warehouse WITHOUT a membership and buy liquor.

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Vermont

When you enter the Costco warehouse, simply tell the card checker and they’ll either wave you threw or direct you to the membership desk where they’ll give you a temporary pass for alcohol sales.

Bonus: This same law also applies at BJ’s Wholesale and Sam’s Club.

See Also: 7 Ways to Essentially Get a $60 Costco Membership for Free

2. Kirkland Alochol is Often Made by Name-Brands

Let’s face it, Costco is not in the business of making their own wine, beer, scotch, tequila, etc.

So how do they produce their high-quality Kirkland brand alcohol? It may (or may not) come as a surprise that they outsource it to well-known distilleries, wineries, and breweries.

When you buy Kirkland liquor you often end up with a very high quality product at a savings in the 20-40% off range. I’ll drink to that kind of savings any day.

When it comes to Costco liquor outsourcing, here’s what we know (or speculate) so far:

And now for the wine at Costco, I think they deserve their own section…

  • Kirkland Signature Wines: They sell many different bottles. Here’s how they breakdown by winery.
    • Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel is made by Kunde Estate.
    • Kirkland Signature Napa Cabernets and blends is produced by Girard Winery.
    • Kirkland Signature 10 Year Old Tawny Port is made by David Guimaraens, head winemaker of Taylor Fladgate.
    • Kirkland’s Brut and Brut Rosé is made by Champagne Janisson & Fils and Champagne de Bruyne.

Am I missing any? Let me know in the comments below, thanks.

3. Costco Will Only Markup Liquor by 10%-14%

This might be the single best reason to buy your liquor only at Costco.

According to this FOX News article, “The average retail liquor store’s markup is 25 to 45 percent on products, but Costco maintains a 10 to 14 percent markup.”

The bottom line is that Costco makes money by selling large quantities at a lower markup and this holds true with their alcohol as well.

An argument could easily be made that you’ll recoup your $60 annual fee by the savings you’ll get when buying wine, beer, and liquor from the warehouse giant.

4. Most Costco Locations Won’t Let You Return Alcohol

Be aware that if you’re planning a large liquor purchase from Costco for a wedding or special event, you typically cannot return the alcohol you don’t consume to Costco.

Opened or unopened, you’re stuck with it in most states.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a list of states that do allow for alcohol returns.

But keep this in mind, if you do live in a state that leaves it up to the discretion of the store, most stores still won’t accept unopened booze.

This is because stores cannot resell the alcohol. They have to either take the loss, or return it to the distributor for less than they paid.

Ask the Reader: Do you buy Costco alcohol on a regular basis? Besides the lower price, what do you like about it?


By Kyle James

Photo credit to Mark Guim.

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What about Canadians? When do I get to save on alcohol?

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