Whisky Advocate

Big whisky retailer news: Binny’s buys Sam’s

October 9th, 2009

The two big Chicago retailers where enthusiasts have been buying whisky are Binny’s and Sam’s. Rumors have been floating around for a while that Binny’s was going to buy Sam’s. It’s now a done deal. The Chicago Tribune has the details here.

I remember shopping for whisky back in the early 1990s, and Sam’s was the place to buy whisky. That was  back when “Joe C.” was in charge of buying and selling the whiskies. Sam’s had the SELECTION and GOOD PRICES–and Joe C.’s friendly and knowledgeable guidance.

But Binny’s gradually gained the momentum. Joe C. left Sam’s and began working for Binny’s. It was like Sam’s didn’t even care anymore about being a place for specialty whiskies. This past decade, it was clear that Binny’s was now the new leader. If you wanted a rare whisky–at a good price–Binny’s was now the place to shop. Brett Pontoni was (and still is) the man carrying the whisky torch at Binny’s.

Why is this buy-out so important to you if you don’t live in Chicago? Well, these days you can order whisky just anywhere via the internet. Competition keeps prices in check. Binny’s and Sam’s have been in competition for a long time, and the prices and selection of whiskies in Chicago have always been great, largely because of this competition.

I would like to offer my congratulations to Binny’s. Well deserved! I just hope that this buy-out doesn’t affect whisky prices at Binny’s in the coming years.

8 Responses to “Big whisky retailer news: Binny’s buys Sam’s”

  1. Yossi says:

    I travel to CHicago quite a bit and hit Binny’s everytime. I like the Sam’s internet experience because they ship whiskies to CT, Binny’s does not. Not sure why and who’s right or who’s wrong but, I will miss Sam’s when shopping via the internet.

  2. bgulien says:

    I am fortunate to work in a Dutch company with a branch in Joliet, near Chicago, and everytime a US colleague travels to the Netherlands HQ, I have my shopping list ready for him.
    Scotch whiskies, not for sale anymore in Europe, are still for sale at Binny’s.
    I didn’t know Sam, but hope that the lack of competition won’t drive the prices up. Pity that there are insurmountable problems of shipping alcohol to and from the US by mail.
    Where’s the global market they promised us?

  3. Tom says:

    As a local Chicagoan, I’m more of a Binny’s fan than Sam’s so maybe I’ll have more places to find great whiskey now.
    My last trip to Sam’s was very dissapointing.

  4. B.J. Reed says:

    Brett is our main man when we buy outside of Omaha – Joe C. (God rest his soul) was a terrific ambassador for whisky and visited Omaha to do tastings and Brett has followed in his footsteps.

    Binny’s is a wonderful place thanks to leadership of their owners and their willingness to treat customers with respect and care.


  5. Todd says:

    I think we are all in agreement that Brett is the man, although in recent years I have enjoyed finding some hidden gem at Sams here and there that Binnys didn’t carry – notably Duncan Taylor bottles. Regardless of Binnys superior selection, David and the folks at Sams have always been very courteous, knowledgeable and helpful when I visited there.

  6. John Hansell says:

    Todd, you’re right about David (Soto) at Sam’s. He’s been carryint the whisky torch there and doing a great job. I forgot to mention that in my original post.

  7. Michael Shoshani says:


    I’m not even sure I can get away with stating my reaction to this in public….but it loosely involves the idea that somewhere up above us Joe C. is wearing a huge grin and toasting the occasion with a bottle of Old Commonwealth that he managed to smuggle in with him.

  8. Gary says:

    I have bought whiskey on line from Binny’s a few times with great success. Great service and a wonderful selection. I wish them well with the merger.

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