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Iowa liquor sales reached record high in 2021

By: - December 14, 2021 5:37 pm

Iowa set a new record for liquor sales in fiscal year 2021. (Photo by Getty Images)

Iowa liquor sales exceeded $400 million for the first time in fiscal year 2021, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division reported Tuesday.

“The outcomes within this year’s annual report reflect good government planning and execution,” ABD Administrator Stephen Larson said in a news release.

Liquor sales between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 totaled $415.8 million — a 13.2% increase from the previous fiscal year, which also saw record-setting sales. The trend continues, according the ABD, with sales from July to November of this year up 5%.

Beyond just “good government planning,” ABD analysts noted that the uptick in sales may be partially explained by “buying habits formed due to the pandemic and consumers purchasing more spirits for home consumption.” National data during COVID-19 show sales of alcohol increased during the early months of the pandemic.

ABD is the sole wholesaler of liquor in Iowa. Revenues from liquor sales are either returned to the state’s general fund or used for substance abuse education and outreach programs. In fiscal year 2021, ABD transferred $120.6 million to the general fund and $29 million to the Iowa Department of Public Health for programming.

What were Iowans drinking in 2021?

The preferred liquor in Iowa was whiskey, data shows: Iowans spent $168 million dollars to purchase 2.1 million gallons of the spirit. Behind whiskey in popularity was vodka, rum and cordials.

Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey was the most popular brand in the state, with 380,000 gallons sold. This is the ninth year in a row that Black Velvet secured the top spot.

Blue Ox Vodka was the most popular Iowa brand liquor, selling over 70,000 gallons.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Reporter Katie Akin began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.