So you’re looking for that rare allocated bourbon and you’re hearing around Florida the only way to get it is with back alley favors or through rewards programs. While this isn’t entirely true if you’re persistent and put in some effort, reward programs offer what appear to be an easy way out… spend lots of money and get rewarded. This post will specifically cover ABC’s reward program that rewards bourbon enthusiasts with what are called “vault invites.”
First, let’s cover the reward program and how it works.
ABC Access (Loyalty Program)
ABC’s reward program is called ABC Access. Like many other programs, you get points for spending money. With it you get some things like coupons and specials and $10 off every $100 of wine purchases and various other stuff like that. If you reach gold key status, you are eligible to receive access to the ABC Vault.
How do I get gold key status?
Remember those back alley favors I talked about a moment ago? I kid, I kid (or do I?).
To get gold key status you have to spend $1,000 per year as you get 5 points for every dollar you spend and need 5,000 points to get gold. If you buy sourced and certified items, you get 10 points for every dollar which can bring down the total spend to $500 per year to keep status.
Pro Tip: If you’re a wine drinker, buying sourced and certified wine is the easier way to get gold key status.
What is the vault?
The ABC Vault is where they keep access to highly allocated bottles such as BTAC, Pappy, Weller 12 and Eagle Rare. No, that’s not a typo. I didn’t mean Eagle Rare 17, that’s included in BTAC. They even put daily sippers like Eagle Rare and other bottles behind this vault for whatever reason which somewhat limits any reason to stop in on occasion if you’re looking for anything more than what typically sits on a shelf.
If you are eligible, you’ll receive at least one vault invite per year. The details of how they decide who gets the invites isn’t entirely clear but one would assume it has to do with how much you spend. I got the minimum gold key status last year and have received three invites so far in 2020.
I’m gold key, what now?
Now you wait. A lot of people report their first vault invite within a couple weeks of hitting status. If you haven’t got one by then, double check and make sure your account is registered online with an email address. You can always email their customer service to make sure too. It seems as though vault invite emails go out typically on Thursday mornings.
Oh, also… don’t unsubscribe from emails. Apparently if you unsubscribe from their emails, it removes you from getting the vault invites too. Alternatively if your account was setup to have a vault invite, you can go directly to the vault website and load it to see. If you have access, you’ll see bottles otherwise you’ll get a message about it being invitation only.
Is the vault worth it?
Next thing you’ll want to know is how to be happy. The problem is this question is very subjective and depends what you mean by worth it. It’s also worth nothing ABC was sitting on a couple years of high end whiskey and bourbon they didn’t put out on the shelves so there’s a lot of concern if the level of vault invites will keep up with the quantity of items they’ve had in the past. If they area able to keep up that kind of supply on these allocated items, my answer would be yes and here’s why.
- I like wine, my wife likes wine. So buying $500 worth of wine isn’t a big deal for us. If you don’t like wine, cigars or other spirits… then getting to the $1,000 mark might be hefty.
- Vault bottles I’ve received have more than paid for the $500 worth of wine:
- W.L.W. retail was $120ish and goes secondary for $800+
- 2017 GTS retail was $120ish and goes secondary for $500+
- Weller 12 retail was $30ish and goes secondary for $175ish
As you can see I bought $500 worth of wine and under $300 worth of allocated whiskey which is almost double what I paid for all the wine and whiskey alone. And I didn’t have to wait in line or do anything other than act fast on an email when it came in. To me that was worth it, much more than how Total Wine did their Grand Reserve last year but that’s for another post.
What would make the vault better?
I’m a big proponent of not bitching about something without proposing a solution so of course I’ll throw in what I think would make this program better.
- Increase sourced and certified selections – continue to build the options for shoppers to choose from to make this easier to shop.
- Stop putting everything behind the vault – let’s stop putting things like OWA, Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare and other non essential allocated items behind the vault. Give your customers something to stop in and see if it’s on the shelf.
- Have more clearly defined tiers – I think having additional tiers with more clearly defined access levels would be great. Diamond Key or something that gets you at least 3 invites or whatever. I have a suspicion this is already happening based on spend but I think it would be helpful to know if I spend another $500 on their sourced wine that it will have benefits of doing so.
So I hope that helps you decide whether you think ABC’s The Vault is worth going after or not. Always happy to answer questions.