DES MOINES — New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, Iowa, so don’t forget to buy a bottle of Black Velvet or Blue Ox for the celebration.
Odds are that you like one of them.
Black Velvet Canadian Whisky continued its long reign as Iowa’s most popular liquor. The brand sold more than 160,000 cases in the most recent fiscal year, according to new data from the state department that monitors alcohol sales.
That’s comfortably more than the 109,000 cases of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum sold; it looks like the Captain is striking a runner-up pose.
Overall, liquor sales were up 6.1 percent over the previous fiscal year, the highest increase in at least five years, according to state data.
With $340 million in liquor sales, $126 million in tax revenue was transferred to the state’s general fund, according to the state Alcoholic Beverages Division.
“This report demonstrates that ABD continues to provide a significant return on investment to the citizens of Iowa,” division administrator Stephen Larson said in a statement. “The citizen-owned distribution model generated millions of dollars that will be used by the Legislature for programs that benefit all Iowans, regardless of whether they choose to consume alcohol.”
Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, Tito’s Handmade Texas Vodka and Hawkeye Vodka round out the top five liquors sold in Iowa in the fiscal year that ran from July 2018 to June 2019.
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Blue Ox Vodka, made in Grimes, was far and away the best-selling Iowa-made liquor, with more than 12,600 cases.
Templeton’s The Good Stuff 4-year Rye Whiskey sold more than 4,200 cases, and Cedar Ridge’s Blended Bourbon more than 3,200.
Templeton and Cedar Ridge were the best-performing Iowa-based distillers: Templeton Distilling made more than $2 million in sales, and Cedar Ridge Vineyards nearly $1.8 million.
Iowa-brewed beers grew more popular during the fiscal year: Sales were up 16.3 percent over the previous year.
But the purchase of Iowa-brewed beers remains a small sliver of Iowans’ spending on beer: just 1.1 percent of all beer purchases during the fiscal year, according to the state data.
A total of more than 71.5 million gallons of beer were purchased in Iowa during the fiscal year.
While total wine sales were slightly up, the gallons of Iowa-made wine declined about 6 percent.
Iowans like beer far more than wine — total wine gallons sold were only about 7 percent of the total gallons of beer sold in the state.