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!
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.
- New York
When you enter the Costco warehouse, simply tell the card checker and they’ll either wave you through 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.
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:
- Kirkland Beers: Both their handcrafted beer and signature light beer is brewed and bottled by Gordon Biersch.
- Kirkland Signature Vodka: There is a great chance it made by Grey Goose.
- Kirkland 20 year Speyside Single Malt Scotch: This is produced by Alexander Murray.
- Kirkland 18 year Single Malt Scotch: This is distilled by the Macallan Distillery.
- Kirkland Signature Premium Small Batch Bourbon (7 year): This is made by none other than Jim Beam.
- Kirkland Anejo Tequila: It’s produced at the same distillery as Cielo tequila.
- Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum: This is also made by Jim Beam.
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.
To help you out, here’s 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.
Bonus Tip: Buying Alcohol in Canada
If you live in Canada, you’re probably aware that only 2 provinces currently let you buy alcohol at Costco.
They are Alberta and more recently Saskatchewan.
They call them “Costco Liquor Stores” and they actually have separate entrances from the main warehouse.
The best part? Costco does NOT require you to have a membership to enter the alcohol stores.
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.