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Iowa reports record high alcohol sales, Black Velvet remains liquor of choice

After dipping in FY20, beer and wine sales each skyrocketed by around 93% in FY21.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Total liquor sales increased by 13.2% in 2021 over the previous fiscal year, with Iowans spending more than $415.8 million on liquor, according to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD) annual report.

The report covers fiscal year 2021, which spanned July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.

The ABD reported transferring more than $120 million in revenue to the State of Iowa General Fund and will be appropriated by the state legislature. ABD transferred $29 million to the Iowa Department of Public Health for substance abuse programs and $2.6 million back to local authorities involved in licensing.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol problems, visit YourLifeIowa.org, call 855-581-8111 or text 855-895-8398.

The ABD reported receiving 938 COVID-19 related complaints and 245 non-COVID-19 related complaints over the year.

Ben Jung, co-owner of Ingersoll Wine & Spirits, says that he isn't surprised by the broken records. He's been keeping busy with customers throughout the pandemic.

"I wasn't really sure how essential our industry is. But I realized now that we've been in this for almost two years now that we're valued in the community," Jung said.

After dipping in FY20, beer and wine sales each skyrocketed by around 93% in FY21. Beer and wine permits, however, each declined by around 8%. Liquor licenses increased by 9.36%.

Iowans spent more on whiskey than any other spirits in FY21, spending more than $168 million. Vodka came in second, bringing in more than $93 million.

Iowans purchased more Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey than any other spirit. More than 380,000 gallons were sold in FY21, but that fell short of the more than 400,000 gallons sold in FY20.

That lines up with Jung's experience; whiskies in Iowa have been a hot commodity.

"Whiskies and bourbons are even more popular than ever. So the challenge has been keeping everything in stock when people are looking for them," Jung said.

Tito's Handmade Vodka came in second with more than 357,075 gallons sold, up from 289,000 gallons last year.

Alcohol delivery also spiked from 78,866 orders in FY20 to 94,514 in FY21.

Polk County bought the most liquor spending more than $94 million—up almost $10,000 from FY20. More than 1.3 million gallons were sold in the county.

RELATED: Yes, alcohol sales have increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

Top liquor brands by gallons sold

  1. Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey
  2. Tito's Handmade Vodka
  3. Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
  4. Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey
  5. Hawkeye Vodka

Top Iowa brands by gallons sold

  1. Blue Ox Vodka
  2. Cedar Ridge Bourbon
  3. Gotcha Vodka
  4. Swell Vodka
  5. Prairie Fire

Top counties by Class "E" liquor sales

  1. Polk — $94,596,457 
  2. Linn — $35,443,565 
  3. Scott — $30,658,413 
  4. Johnson — $24,223,459 
  5. Black Hawk — $22,597,679 

Total gallons sold per county

  1. Polk — 1,345,882
  2. Linn — 558,993
  3. Scott — 460,460
  4. Johnson — 354,771
  5. Black Hawk — 342,844

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