Everclear, high-content alcohol limited to one size

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Iowa consumers soon will find Everclear in only one size on store shelves, down from the four bottle sizes now sold.

The change, one step to address abuse of high-content alcohol by underage drinkers, was approved Thursday by the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission at a meeting in Iowa City. Three members of the five-member group were present for a public forum and meeting, where the commission decided liquor more than 100 proof will be sold in only one size.

For Everclear, a 151-proof spirit, the commission specified that one size as 750 milliliter, which eliminates the 200 and 375 milliliter and 1.75 liter sizes now sold.

For other brands of high-proof alcohol, the board did not specify the size that can be sold. Suppliers can sell current stock of the other sizes, but they won’t be replenished, said Lynn Walding, Alcoholic Beverages Division administrator.

A registration system for purchasing high-proof alcohol, similar to the system Iowa has for buying beer kegs, may also be on the horizon. The commission directed Alcohol Beverages Division staff to look into a registration process, for discussion at a future meeting.

“I like the idea of registration, some kind of paper trail, so we show who purchased a product,” Commissioner Jim Clayton of Iowa City said.

The state allows the sale of 12 products that are more than 100 proof, and another 20 products that are 100 proof. Everclear and Barcardi 151 Rum are the highest-proof liquors sold in Iowa.

The commission also voted to cap the state’s alcohol listings at 151 proof, so nothing higher can be sold.

The Thursday forum, attended by about 20 people, was the second in the state regarding high-content alcohol. The discussion about more restrictions or a possible ban started a few months ago, after a Drake University student was hospitalized with a blood-alcohol content above 0.5 after drinking Everclear.

Commission members didn’t support the idea of a total ban, said Chairman Rick Hunsaker of Carroll.

Also at a future meeting, commissioners will discuss educational campaigns about high-content alcohol, and the idea of taxing such alcohol at a higher rate than lower-content products. Currently, the state taxes all alcohol at 50 percent.

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