Nearly 11,000 Utahns entered state’s first rare-liquor drawing; four Japanese whiskeys are now on the block

(Photo courtesy of Suntory Whisky) Yamazaki Single Malt 18-year, is one of four Japanese whiskeys available as part of Utah's second rare-liquor drawing.

Nearly 11,000 Utahns entered the state’s first rare liquor drawing.

The initial popularity of the Rare High-Demand Product drawing was a surprise to officials with the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said spokesman Terry Wood.

“We weren’t sure how many people might enter,” he said, “but that was more than we expected.”

For the first drawing, which launched at the end of June, 12,031 people registered and 10,947 entered for a chance to buy one of the 108 bottles of Elmer T. Lee single barrel bourbon the state received.

At $37.99, the award-winning whiskey was practically a steal. A 750 milliliter bottle is listed for as much as $300 online. It’s an instance when the state’s mandatory 88% markup on spirits favors consumers.

Since the first drawing, more people have shown an interest in the program, Wood said. As of Aug. 1, 13,133 people have registered on the site.

Layton resident Dane Woodard was one of the initial winners. He read about the drawing in a news article and “thought the opportunity to get ahold of a rare liquor was too good to pass up.”

From registering to pickup, the aerospace engineer thought the DABC process went smoothly.

“When I was selected, I was sent an email,” he explained. “Once the bottle was at my local store, I again received an email. I went the next day and picked up my bottle in a matter of minutes.”

Woodard said he hasn’t open the bottle yet. “I’m saving it to celebrate the birth of my second son in the end of August,” he said. “Plus my wife will be able to enjoy it then as well.”

Of course, he’ll be entering again, he said. "I’m all about trying new drinks, especially if they are much more affordable than in other states.”

The second monthly drawing is now underway and ends Saturday, Aug. 3. It features four rare Japanese whiskeys including an 18-year-old bottle that averages $800 to $1,000 in other states and online.

• Yamazaki Single Malt, 18-year, for $299.99 (18 bottles are available).

• Yamazaki Single Malt, 12-year, $99.99 (216 bottles available).

• Suntory Hakushu, 12-year, $99.99 (54 bottles available).

• Hibiki Harmony, $74.99 (54 bottles available).

To participate in drawings, consumers 21 and older must first create a personal profile on the DABC website — https://abc.utah.gov/— that includes an email, birthdate and the last four digits of either their Utah driver license, passport, military or work ID.

Consumers will have to show the identification when they go to buy the bottle at the state-run liquor store they listed at the time of registration.

Only Utahns and those in the active military in the state can put their name in the drawing. DABC employees may not participate; neither can restaurants, bars or other businesses with state liquor licenses.

The names will be picked randomly by computer. Those selected will be notified by email. Only one bottle can be purchased per address, and reselling the product is prohibited.

The high-demand program is in a 90-day trial period, while the agency writes rules for managing the drawing process. The public soon will be able to view and comment on the proposed rules through the Utah Office of Administrative Rules.