- Associated Press - Saturday, November 7, 2015

Wine - and usually, a chardonnay - may be the most popular alcoholic choice in Utah, but the top-selling branded products are actually Barton vodka and Jack Daniels black label whiskey.

Barton vodka took the overall category with the most units sold. A total of 666,572 bottles of the spirit were bought by the general public in the one-year period between September 2014 to September 2015, according to data from the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Sales totaled about $4.9 million.

State spokeswoman Vickie Ashby said it was often sold to restaurants using it to mix drinks and had been especially popular when the businesses offered drink specials.

“Bartons is the cheapest,” she said.

The second-most overall product sold by units was Taaka vodka, with 363,092 bottles. Fireball Cinnamon whiskey, Smirnoff vodka and Jack Daniels black label whiskey also made the top five with more than 200,000 bottles sold.

The same Jack Daniels was also the top dollar earner for the state overall, totaling $6.1 million in sales from 234,097 bottles sold last year. Crown Royal whiskey came in second by cash sales amounts, bringing in about $5.5 million, and the third was Barton vodka. Fireball Cinnamon whiskey and Jagermeister liquor also hit the $4 million mark in the top five for all alcohol sales.

By alcohol type, the wine-loving state also overwhelmingly chose white varietals, including the top earner Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve chardonnay, which netted $902,000 from 55,029 bottles sold. The most units sold for wine was Vendange chardonnay with 70,565 bottles at about $221,000. Though Utahns reported more than 8.2 million gallons consumed last year, Ashby said the lower wine product numbers are due to the wide range of brands and varietals sold.

As for beer, the top-selling Icehouse sold 1 million units for about $1 million. By cash sales amounts, Squatters Hop Rising Double IPA sold the most, netting $1.6 million from its 872,859 units sold.

Based in Salt Lake City, Squatters is one of several craft breweries that helped push the state’s beer sales to spike by 9 percent in 2015, the biggest jump in five years.

And that number doesn’t include beer sold in grocery stores, which contain less than 4 percent alcohol under Utah law. The state doesn’t track those sales.

While brands like MillerCoors’ Icehouse are still popular, Millennial generation beer drinkers also want a variety of taste and flavors, according to Jim Olsen, president of Utah Beer Wholesalers Association.

Utah is one of 19 states with state-run liquor sales. The $396 million in total sales in fiscal 2015 marked an 8 percent rise from the previous year and are more than double the figure from a decade ago. Sales have increased each year going back to 1996, the oldest year state data is available.

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