State liquor sales are running ahead of last year’s pace in this final month of the state fiscal year. “Right now we’re sitting at about $219-million in sales, which is up about 1.8% from this same time last year,” according to Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (IABD) spokesperson, Tonya Dusold.

“We’ve done about 1.9-million gallons, so that is up about 6.5% from this time last year.” The larger increase in dollars spent over the number of gallons purchased is an indication of they type of alcohol being purchased.

“People are trading up a little bit, buying a little bit more premium products,” Dusold says. “You can also see a change there happening with people buying pricier flavored vodkas over you cordials and schnapps — which are cheaper — and that’ll create that difference in sales dollars versus dollars as well.”

She says the shift to pricier items is an indication the economy is getting better. “Oh, I think you can definitely say that plays into it, there’s a lot of factors, everything from having really nice weather in March can affect that. People get out and start barbecuing a little earlier (that) can affect those sales numbers,” Dusold says.

Dusold says the flavored drinks and pre-mixed drinks are a hot trend right now. “Vodka and cocktails are way up, both vodka over 10% and cocktails over 10% as well. A lot of what’s driving that are the new sweet flavors for the vodkas. We’ve got a couple fairly new one within the last year that’re doing quite well and we’re seeing those flavors merge into other categories. The cocktails are up with products like Skinny Girl has their margarita, and cosmo and pinna colada,” Dusold says.

The flavored trend has evened reached into some product areas where Dusold says they haven’t seen it before. “Like spice and honey and cherry whiskeys, those dark liquors too,” she says. When it comes to other adult beverages outside the hard liquor category, wine continues to gain in popularity according to sales.

“Wine is up again, creeping up close to 10% increase, whereas beer has been real close to flat. We’re at 1.2% over this time last year for the beer excise tax being collected on those gallons. And again, that’s a trend we’ve been seeing for five, six, seven years — where wine is increasing and beer is staying relatively flat.

IABD generated just over $108-million for the state last year, and Dusold says it looks like that number will increase slightly this fiscal year.