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Mar 28, 2008 09:18 PM

Where to get scotch?

My fellow Toronto scotch lovers, aside from the LCBO, where do you buy your bottles of single malt scotch? Any shops, Canadian or otherwise, that will ship them over?

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  1. I could be wrong here, but I think the only people licensed to sell alcohol to consumers (in non-restaurant settings) are the beer store and LCBO. You need to order whatever you want from the LCBO, period, no questions asked. They will be happy to do it for you, however.

    1. I am almost 100% positive that you can only purchase through the LCBO, unless you have travelled elsewhere and are bringing it back with you. LCBO will do special orders.
      My understanding is that even if you purchase a case through a distributor, the sale must still somehow mechanistically be made through the LCBO

      I had a friend try to ship me a bottle of wine at Christmas from the Quebec liquor stores (SPQ?) and he was prevented once he put an out of province address in

      7 Replies
      1. re: mac n cheeze

        Hey Spiffy Dude,

        The LCBO has a pretty sad collection. I get mine from Quiach Society Dinners or if you have a US address (friends or relatives) lots of places will ship.
        Gordon & MacPhail will go the US but by the case. by the bottle by the bottle(up until last month, they were willing to ship to Canada if you were willing to risk it being intercepted)

        1. re: Cam D

          Unfortunately, I don't have a US address. I understand that you get dinged pretty hard if they catch you bringing in alcohol beyond your allowance, but maybe it's still worth the trip if I'm getting stuff that simply can't be found over here.

          1. re: spiffy_dude

            April 29 is the next Quaich meeting. Blair Athol, Benrinnes and Royal Lochnagar are the ones this time. You might make some valuable contacts for next time someone makes a trip to Scotland....

          2. re: Cam D

            While the LCBO has improved, I was astounded on a trip to Scotland a few years ago when I stopped at a small village just outside of St. Andrews. I went into the local liquor store, and was floored by the varieties available; there must have been over 200! I really didn't go searching in Edinburgh, but I'm sure there are stores there with even more selection.

            1. re: KevinB

              But how many Ontario wines did they have?
              Realistically, in most places in the world you can only find a local selection with a smattering of 'imports'.
              Try finding a Burgundy in Bordeaux!

              1. re: estufarian

                Try finding a great BC, Prince Edward County, or Niagara wine at the LCBO. The Australian sections are larger!

                I wouldn't resort to ordering direct if my country's wines weren't so sorely underrepresented at my province's only retail outlet for alcohol.

                1. re: Googs

                  That was the kindest post I've ever written about the LCBO.
                  I must be going soft.
                  And have just received my notification of My Classics catalogue 'allotments".
                  I ordered a set of 8 different vintages of the same wine (multiple botles). Only got 7 selections!
                  Another set of 4 vintages of same product - only got 2 in full, and a partial order of third and nothing of 4th.
                  Another set of 3 wines. Got 1, a partial of another and none of the third.
                  So attempted to build 3 'sets' and only got partials in all 3 sets!
                  I guess someone else can now enjoy all the returns!

        2. Yes, as the other posters have said, the only (legal) way to buy scotch in Ontario would be through the LCBO, or from an agent representing a brand not available at the LCBO. You could alternatively bring some across the border yourself, but expect to pay heavy duties and taxes.

          Shipping booze into Ontario from elsewhere (even from another province) isn't allowed.


          12 Replies
          1. re: detritus

            Ouch! I was actually hoping I could order them from Alberta (oh, to be privatized...). Maybe I need to fly over and load up my suitcase with booze. Is that legal?

            1. re: spiffy_dude

              It is legal, however, the baggage must be checked since with the new flight restrictions, not more than 100mL of liquid may be brought on the plane as carry on

              1. re: mac n cheeze

                No it isn't 'legal'. Despite what one might think.
                In Canada alcohol is a provincial responsibility and it is illegal to bring liquor across provincial borders. Of course, enforcing that law is pretty much impossible. Nevertheless the laws exist. You are 'required' to pay ALL the provincial levies (which for Ontario approach 100% for unaccompanied product - slightly less if you bring it yourself). But you do avoid the federal charges (as they've already been paid). And 'technically' if you bring alcohol back from Alberta you also have to pay the levies in each province you pass through - again, enforcement would be a challenge. I believe it's also 'technically' required to pay for Provinces you fly over - except I've never even heard of that one enforced.
                But what this does mean is that Liqor 'outlets' will not (legally) ship product out of province. I've tried (without success) to have wine shipped from Alberta. There's also a 'challenge' in shipping to ensure that the recipient is 'of legal age'. This means that many shipping companies won't even carry alcohol (although I've heard a rumour that there have been a few shipments of 'vinegar starter'). What the merchants are afraid of are the penalties for being caught - extremely onerous - it's not the 'genuine' purchasor, but the 'sting' carried out by vested interests that's the problem.
                If this sounds ridiculous - just ask yourself why one is always asked if one is carrying alcohol or tobacco when entering Canada - but not asked about firearms etc.

                1. re: estufarian

                  I'm not certain how this can be true, estufarian, since I have, on two occasions, had cases of wine shipped from Mission Hill in BC to my home through a delivery service. Nothing hidden in the hubcaps. No RCMP at my door.

                  1. re: Googs

                    Directly from the winery? That seems unlikely given the following blurb from their website:

                    "However, due to customs and duty regulations, we regret that we cannot ship outside of Canada nor to Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba at this time." (


                    Maybe they're represented in Ontario by an agent who will deliver?


                    1. re: Googs

                      It's illegal!!!
                      Read between the lines.

                      1. re: estufarian

                        Well then something must have changed. Bin 88 unavailable outside of BC shipped to my home. Here's a copy & paste of the confirmation e-mail. The only thing I've changed is the confirmation number in order to maintain my anonymity.
                        "Thank you for your recent on-line order.

                        Please note that your order number is: XXXXXXXXXXXXX

                        If you have any questions or wish to track your order, please contact us at the winery by calling 250-768-6498, referring to the above-noted number.
                        We are open daily between 10:00am and 5:00pm (PST). You may also e-mail us at:

                        Again, we appreciate your patronage and look forward to serving you again.
                        All the best,
                        The staff at Mission Hill Family Estate"

                        1. re: Googs

                          Nothing has changed!
                          They're breaking the law.
                          My guess is that they have political connections - or deep enough pockets to challenge the law. My opinion is that the law would be struck down if challenged as it conflicts with other laws prohibiting discrimination.
                          But the cost of so doing is substantial.
                          I was involved in supporting such a law suit against the Ontario Government for a restaurant owner who declared bankruptcy after his licence was suspended for serving BC wine he'd shipped here. Eventually we just ran out of money. And the Plaintiff walked away.
                          However the BC Government also entered an 'Interested Party' brief supporting the Ontario action. As did several other Provinces.

                          1. re: estufarian

                            Well I've destroyed the evidence so the cops have nothing on me. Bizarre that it's easier to bring tequila from Mexico than wine from BC. I'm always stunned that we can have Free Trade with everyone other than our provincial brothers. Been that way forever.

                            1. re: Googs

                              Of course, some places do turn a "blind eye" and use common sense. But the risks are huge without the political 'protection'.
                              I stumbled over that when I was next in line for an AGCO (LLBO) permit for a wine function. The person ahead of me got a permit for a 'wine auction' that was patently illegal - it was for selling off a Cabinet Ministers cellar. Subsequently when the matter arose and was published, the response was that "a mistake had been made in issuing the permit" But too late for me who had protested in person and at the time! My permit (at the same time)was denied because I was taking the entire restaurant and under the then-existing "law" (intentionally in quotes as it was a regulation that had never been published) restaurants had to be 'open' during their licensed hours i.e. as my function effectively closed the place to the public it was 'illegal'. I have since been told by the AGCO that the 'law' has been changed - but I've yet to see the change published in the Ontario Gazette.

                      2. re: Googs

                        It's quite true. I have been stopped twice by OPP transporting cases of beer from Ontario to Quebec (brands not sold in Quebec). Both times, OPP slapped me on the wrist for this and said by law its illegal to transport alcohol cross province but he's not going to do anything. I assume enforcing this is more of a bureaucratic headache than anything else.

                        1. re: goodcookiedrift

                          Huh? Why would the OPP care what you take into Quebec? Shouldn't that be the Sûreté du Québec's problem?

              2. I know that once in a blue moon the LCBO is willing to special order certain products if the demand is high enough. If there is a specific brand you like..perhaps you and some friends could petion the LCBO. Or take a trip south.... or east..... or west

                1 Reply
                1. re: sweetie

                  Um, this is Ontario you have buy it through the LCBO but you can also order it though an agent but then LCBO still handles it.

                  Maybe one day this province will get out of the stone age and open up more avenues of distribution as in most of the rest of North America!

                2. Recognizing the legalities raised by others on this board, my experience is the challenge isn't the purchase - it's the shipping.

                  Retailers in BC and Alberta seem to be ok with phone and email purchases so long as the order is picked up in-person. Fortunately, I'm lucky enough to have many friends out west who are willing to pick up the odd case and courier it out to me.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: gogol

                    Yes, I never realized that the laws related to this were so complicated (and backwards). Anyway, I might be taking a trip out west in a couple of months. Let's just say that I'll be packing light but bringing two suitcases.