Business

Iowa liquor sales grow 4.7 percent

Templeton Rye produces most popular local spirit

Whiskey barrels wait to be racked at Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery in Swisher on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. The busin
Whiskey barrels wait to be racked at Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery in Swisher on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. The business has already had to lower their prices to accommodate European tariffs on alcohol. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Templeton Rye’s 4-year-aged rye whiskey was the most popular made-in-Iowa spirit last fiscal year, the state’s alcoholic beverage division said Wednesday in its annual report.

The whiskey from Western Iowa topped in the number of cases sold the second-most popular native spirit, a blended bourbon from Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery in Swisher, and the third, a vodka from Swell made near Des Moines.

Iowa distilleries received a boost going into fiscal 2018 after lawmakers passed and then-Gov. Terry Branstad signed a measure allowing the operations to produce more of their products and to sell sprits they made on-site by the glass.

Distilleries had argued for years for the new provisions, saying they should be treated more like craft beer makers.

According to the annual report, the Iowa distilleries with the largest market share of total sales were Templeton Rye Spirits in Carroll County at about $1.6 million; Cedar Ridge of Johnson County at about $1.4 million; and Mississippi River Distilling Co. of Scott County at nearly $0.7 million.

The report covers the period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018.

Some highlights of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division report:

• Total fiscal 2018 liquor sales in Iowa exceeded $320 million, an increase of 4.7 percent. Though a robust rate, it was less than last year’s nearly 5.8 percent rise.

• Vodkas overtook whiskies in the number of gallons sold. Vodkas saw a nearly 5.7 percent increase to about 1.6 million gallons; whiskies saw a 1.2 percent increase to about 1.5 million gallons.

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• Nonetheless, Black Velvet Canadian Whisky remained the top seller in the state, a position it has held for years.

• Although the overall number of gallons of beer sold declined about 2 percent, Iowa craft beer sales increased more than 11 percent.

• The opposite trend held for wine. Though the total number of gallons of wine sold increase slightly less than 1 percent, sales for Iowa-made wines decreased 6.5 percent.

• Polk, Linn and Scott counties — the three most populous counties in Iowa — also were the three top markets in the number of gallons sold.

• Through taxes and fees, the division transferred $120 million to the state’s general fund in fiscal 2018 to be appropriated by legislators.

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