Adventures in moving from Toronto to PEI : PEI Alcohol sticker shock

Since I got my own place in Toronto, I’ve had a fully stocked bar onsite. When you’re single, hosting parties and people at your place is highly convenient, highly social and all round beneficial. The price I paid to have my alcohol stocks at the condo, was definitely less than the social utility gained. When you’re married, having your stocks onsite will ensure that you’re completely lazy and never the house to drink, when you’re up for a scotch or two.

You can only have a bar with glasses like this, when you’re single 😀

If you’re a beer drinker …

In moving from Toronto to Prince Edward Island, the price of beer was not really factored into the equation, but we did notice that the price of a Gahan was 3.95$ at the Liquor Store and that the same beer in PEI compared to Toronto would be about $1 more per beer. In doing some research, I found the following information

  • PEI (PEI Liquor Control Commission) : 12 bottles = $23.95
  • Ontario (The Beer Store) : 12 bottles =  $21.25
  • Quebec (IGA) : 12 bottles = $14.99

This means that Canada’s most liberal province also has the cheapest beer/booze. This makes sense, given my time in Montreal.  Now this is well and fine if you’re a beer drinker, but I’m not really one (even though I’ve had more beer in my time in PEI, than I’ve ever had when I was out of the province) … so what does the price of scotch look like?

If you’re a Scotch drinker …

This is why I brought my own 🙂

There is only one real issue with being a Scotch drinker in PEI.

As a surprise : It’s not sticker shock!!

A simple comparison of Single Malt prices shows that a bottle of Glenfiddich 12 yr old (750ml) in PEI is about $54.99 while the same bottle in Ontario is $54.95. A bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label is less in PEI vs Ontario (279.99 to 309.99).

The major issue is the lack of selection. Compared to the metropolis of Toronto, the entire island of PEI has between 90,000-120,000 depending on the season. Consequently, the demand for Scotch or other spirits is much lower. Economically, it makes no sense for the liquor stores to carry a huge variety or high end selections. While this isn’t the end of the world … in fact, it’s a first world problem … it’s just an item to consider in moving here … albeit a very minor one.

If you’re a wine drinker…

You’re really facing some pain, if you prefer higher end and less common varietals. For wine drinkers, there is the compound problem of less supply and variety, along with significantly higher costs. That being said, if you’re determined for the savings, you can spend a couple hours and drive to Quebec to enjoy their lower wine prices. In PEI, the law states that it’s legal to “import” out-of-province wine. However, the PEI liquor board – which, I should add, interpret and enforce liquor laws but don’t write them – have indicated that the wine must be carried across provincial lines by the consumer rather than, say, by a courier. That being said (and I’m not a lawyer) “I don’t think it’s possible for a liquor board to reasonably interpret the word ‘import’ to exclude shipment”.

So you don’t want to spend a lot of money, but want to get drunk and not go blind …

With the lower selection and higher prices of beer and wine, what’s the next best way to get your drink on without breaking the budget?

Brew your own beer and wine!!!

There is a very active community of home brewers on the island. I’ve already sampled home made beer, wine and moonshine and was definitely impressed with the taste and quality of the product. My neighbors having been making their own wine and beer for as long as we’ve known them and we were so impressed with the taste and the cost per bottle that we put down 60 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio for a grand total of $300.

This was the option where we bought the wine making kit, but the store makes the wine and puts it down for you. You’re only responsible for bottling it yourself – that’s the legal workaround, as the store cannot sell you bottled wine. If we chose to bottle and do it ourselves, the cost will be cheaper. I’ll detail the price points of making beer and process along with tasting details in a future post.

So there you have it … a couple details on what the PEI alcohol sticker shock looks like and one way to effectively get around all that $$$ disappearing from your wallet.

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at

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