Alcohol sales in Iowa leveling off but still record

Wholesale sales in fiscal 2014 totaled about $263.5 million

Liquor bottles
Liquor bottles

DES MOINES — Iowans continue to buy liquor, beer and wine at record clips but the pace of sales is leveling off, according to new yearly figures released Tuesday by the state Alcoholic Beverages Division.

Wholesale sales of spirits in fiscal 2014 totaled about $263.5 million, a level that was up 3 percent or $7.7 million from the previous year's record. However, last fiscal year's growth rate was the second lowest yearly increase in a decade that saw a steady rise in alcohol consumption, according toe the divisions' fiscal 2014 report.

“It's a slight increase, not huge,” said division spokesman Robert Bailey. “It's a solid year.”

Overall, state revenue from sales of all categories of alcoholic beverages in Iowa totaled nearly $302.7 million.

In addition to the state revenue from spirits profits, funds gen­erated by excise taxes on wine and beer, license fees and civil penalties translated into a state general fund transfer of more than $119 million — a figure that was about equal to fiscal 2013, division officials said. Most of the funds are appropriated to a variety of state programs by the Iowa General Assembly, while $19.4 million are allocated to the state Department of Public Health for substance abuse programs and more than $3.6 million from sales of licenses are remitted to cities and counties issuing the licenses.

For fiscal 2014, Iowa consumers bought over 5 million gallons of liquor, up 1.4 percent; nearly 75 million gallons of beer, a 2.5 percent increase; and nearly 4.29 million gallons of wine, an increase of less than 1 percent from the previous year, according to state data.

For the most part, Iowans' tastes in distilled spirits were relatively unchanged with Black Velvet Canadian whiskey, Hawkeye vodka and Captain Morgan's spiced rum the dominant sales leaders in cases purchased in fiscal 2014 with five of the top 10 being vodka products.

“Those top selections aren't top-shelf stuff, those aren't very expensive,” said Bailey.

Sales increased for vodka, whiskey and tequila products among Iowa consumers, while negative sales totals were posted for rum, Schnapps, cocktails and gin products, according to the division's fiscal 2014 reported posted at the website.

Overall, the per-capital gallons of distilled spirits sold by county averaged 1.32 for the state's 2,178,145 adults aged 21 or older with Dickinson County ranked No. 1 and Fremont County ranked 99th based on the alcoholic beverages division data.