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Published: Tuesday, 8/7/2012

Liquor sales show spirited growth in Ohio for 2012


COLUMBUS — Regardless of the shape of the economy, liquor profits continue to rise in Ohio.

Spirituous liquor sales in Ohio reached another record for the 2012 fiscal year that ended June 30, reaching $825 million, a 7 percent increase over the prior year, the largest year-to-year jump since 2006. Net profit rose nearly 6 percent to $251 million. Spirituous liquor is anything other than beer and wine.

After declining in three of the past four years, wholesale sales — reflecting activity at bars, restaurants, and other entertainment venues — was up nearly 6 percent, which is a positive indicator for Ohio's economy, said Bruce Stevenson, superintendent of the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.

He also said it was a positive sign that dollar figures grew faster than consumption. A total of 11.7 million gallons were sold last year, up about 4 percent and the most since 12.1 million gallons in 1985. "Our success is due in part to Ohioans buying more high-quality and premium priced items as tastes get more sophisticated," Mr. Stevenson said.

Ohio liquor sales have grown each year since 1994.

If the liquor profits trend continues, it will be good news for JobsOhio, the new nonprofit entity that is taking over most economic development activity for the state. It is expected to pay $500 million to Ohio by the end of the year for the use of future liquor profits. The deal was held up for months because of various legal challenges filed by Democrats and a liberal policy group.

The Franklin County Court of Appeals threw out the lawsuit, so JobsOhio can now go to the bond market to pay the $500 million for the lease. The deal is expected to give JobsOhio about $100 million a year, primarily for loan and grant programs.

Kamchatka Vodka has been the top-selling spirituous liquor in Ohio for years. It is a budget-priced vodka — often served in bars when the patron doesn't specify a brand. Despite its Russian name, it is distilled in Kentucky.

Other top-sellers include Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, Bacardi Superior Light Rum, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Absolut Vodka, Smirnoff Vodka, and Crown Royal Canadian Whisky.

Read the full story from the Columbus Dispatch.

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