Consumers who buy from county-owned liquor stores in Montgomery County may, in the not-too-remote future, be able to choose between cut-rate "house brands" and the full-priced national name brands that ordinarily are the only ones now offered.
Robert Passmore, county director of liquor control, said yesterday that he and five other members of a departmental policy committee are working on recommendations to be considered at a meeting, probably next month.
The request that the county liquor stores consider offering house brands was made by County Executive Charles Gilchrist and his chief administrative officer, Robert Wilson. They were nudged by Robert E. Miller of Silver Spring, a founder of the Montgomery County Taxpayers League, who noted after a survey that local buyers were deprived of house-brand bargains available in adjacent Prince George's County and the District of Columbia.
House brands, which bear a store's label, typically cost less than brands bearing a distiller's nationally recognized label.
For example, Continental Liquors in downtown Washington was offering its own brand of bourbon yesterday at $6.49 a liter while a national brand described as comparable was going for $8.49. For Scotch, the comparison ws $6.99 vs. $8.19.
Passmore said his county outlets occasionally sell "off" brands that are not nationally recognized at prices below the "name" brands. He said they may decide to expand that tactic rather than offering house brands. Recently, for example, he said, they "did very well" by selling about 2,400 bottles of the unknown Vladimir vodka during a three-day sales period at $6.69 for 1.75 liters (about a half gallon). Smirnoff, a national leader, was selling for $9.79.
This column's nomination as a brand name, at least for bourbon, is Old Hungerford Tavern. That hostelry, once located at a bucolic crossroads that is now bustling Rockville, was by all accounts the birthplace of Montgomery County.