Government

Iowa posts record year for liquor, wine sales

Beer sales essentially flat for year

Various bottles of liquor and wine. (file photo)
Various bottles of liquor and wine. (file photo)

DES MOINES — Iowa posted another record year of liquor and wine consumption while beer sales went flat in fiscal 2015, according to the latest figures released Tuesday by the state Alcoholic Beverages Division.

Overall, sales of distilled spirits, beer and wine totaled nearly $319.3 million, which represented a 5.4 percent increase for the period from July 1, 2014 to last June 30. Wholesale sales of spirits in fiscal 2015 totaled about $277.7 million, a level that topped last fiscal year’s record by$14.2 million.

In addition to the state revenue from spirits profits with the division being the sole purchaser of alcoholic liquor sold in or imported into Iowa, the agency reported funds genČerated by excise taxes on wine and beer, license fees and civil penalties translated into nearly $128.7 million, including nearly $104.2 million to the state’s general fund and $20.4 million allocated to the state Department of Public Health for substance abuse programs.

“It was a good year. Sales picked up really well,” said division spokesman Robert Bailey. “I don’t know whether it’s just that people are drinking more spirits. I think a lot of millennials are turning more to liquor as opposed to beer and wine.”

Division figures indicated that more than 2 million cases of liquor were purchased by 168 vendors in Iowa. Whiskey, vodka, and cordials and liqueurs all topped a million gallons within the nearly 5.2 million gallons of liquor consumed by Iowans last fiscal year.

“We’re seeing nationally that whiskey is starting to be more popular than vodka,” Bailey said. “Brown liquor is overtaking clear liquor, that’s what some of the national authorities have been telling us.”

Beer sales topped 73.8 million gallons — a drop of nearly 1 percent from nearly 75 million gallons the previous fiscal year — while Iowans consumed more than 4.5 million gallons of wine in aggregate. Native beer, native wine and micro distilleries all posted higher sales in fiscal 2015.

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“Beer has a huge volume,” Bailey noted, especially the uptick in interest for craft brews and native drinks. “They still drink a lot of it, but it was down slightly.”

For the most part, Iowans’ tastes in distilled spirits were relatively unchanged, with Black Velvet Canadian whiskey, Captain Morgan’s original spiced rum and Hawkeye vodka the dominant sales leaders in cases purchased in fiscal 2015, with five of the top 10 being vodka products, according to the division’s fiscal 2015 reported posted at the iowaabd.com website.

Overall, the per-capital gallons of distilled spirits sold by county averaged 2.37 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. The other top 10 counties were Cerro Gordo, Polk, Kossuth, Carroll, Black Hawk, Johnson, Linn, Hardin and Scott.

Read the full report at http://iowaabd.com/files/client_files/573/3751/FY15AnnualReportVer12.pdf

Top 10 liquor brands sold in Iowa in fiscal 2015

Brand Cases

1, Black Velvet 172,622

2, Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum 114,632

3, Hawkeye Vodka 101,568

4, Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey 68,880

5, Five O’Clock Vodka 61,199

6, Bacardi Rum 52,231

7, Phillips Vodka 51,968

8, Seagram Crown Royal 49,033

9, Smirnoff Vodka 47,955

10, Barton Vodka 47,658

Source: Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division

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