Virginians buy more alcohol at ABC stores, restaurants, leading to record sales in fiscal 2014

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RICHMOND, Virginia — Virginians bought more alcohol in the state's beverage control stores and restaurants as the state agency again saw record sales in the last fiscal year.

The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said it has seen sales increase to record-breaking levels consecutively for the past 16 years.

The agency that runs 350 shops throughout the state saw a profit of $140 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30. When combined with state taxes, sales tax, and wine and beer taxes, the department transferred an all-time high of $387 million to Virginia's general fund. Since its inception in 1934, the agency has contributed more than $8.6 billion to Virginia's general fund, officials said.

Gross wholesale and retail sales increased nearly 4 percent to $801 million. Sales at retail stores grew nearly 5 percent with the number of transactions increasing 3 percent to 28.8 million. Sales to restaurants increased nearly 2 percent and Sunday sales at state-owned stores rose nearly 7 percent compared with the previous fiscal year.

The number of cases of wine, spirits and nonalcoholic mixers sold increased 2 percent to about 4.38 million cases. That translates to more than 52 million bottles, or about 10.8 million gallons.

Officials noted the shift in demand for whiskey both in Virginia and across the country, with double-digit gains in national sales in the last five years. Kentucky distilleries in particular filled 1.2 million barrels of bourbon last year — the most since 1970, according to the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

In Virginia, whiskey brought in sales of $241.5 million last year, vodka netted a combined $215.7 million in sales and cordials experienced sales of $99.1 million.

Jack Daniel's remained the top-selling brand based on dollar figures, followed by Smirnoff 80, Jim Beam and Grey Goose. Meanwhile sales of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky more than doubled compared with last year.


Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum.

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