State credits stronger economy for record 2012 liquor sales

CLEVELAND - State spirituous liquor sales reached a record high of $849 million in 2012, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Liquor Control.

"The shelves were empty. We couldn't keep the stock on the shelves," said Eleni Alex, manager of Minotti's Wine & Spirits in Parma, who spoke about the store's record profits last year.

Sales jumped 7 percent from 2011 to 2012, exceeding last year's total by $55.3 million.

"Strong wholesale indicates positive growths in Ohio's economy as Ohioans are again patronizing restaurants and entertainment businesses," said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Department of Commerce in a statement.

But Alex attributes strong sales to a shift in the way Ohioans consume alcohol.

"Everybody drinks at home now. They don't go out. Parties are always at home," she said.

Paul Jonkey of Mentor drinks at home most weekends when he and his family entertain others.

"We always seem to be throwing a party. I got a big family," he said while having lunch Wednesday at the Winking Lizard downtown. Jonkey drank more last year than in year's past because he had the financial means to be more social.

Dollar sales grew at a higher rate than consumption in 2012.

"Consumer tastes are becoming more sophisticated, and Ohioans continue to trade up buying more of the premium products," said Goodman.

George Koenig of Mentor, who prefers vodka, said he drank less last year because he has young daughter. But when he did drink, he consumed more expensive liquor.

"It was a very good year last year," he said while eating at the Winking Lizard.

The following were the top 10 selling brands of spirituous liquor in Ohio for 2012 (by gallons sold):

1. Kamchatka Vodka – 364,914 gallons
2. Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey – 355,068 gallons
3. Bacardi Superior Light Rum – 287,378 gallons
4. Absolut Vodka – 281,898 gallons
5. Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey – 281,295 gallons
6. Captain Morgan Spiced Rum – 279,512 gallons
7. Smirnoff  Vodka  – 271,204 gallons
8. Jagermeister – 256,526 gallons
9. Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey – 231,888 gallons
10. Korski Vodka – 229,404 gallons

Spirituous liquor is intoxicating liquor containing more than 21 percent alcohol by volume.

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