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The Hater's Guide to Iowa's top 5 selling alcohol brands

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Iowans seem to love their booze.

Residents of the Hawkeye State purchased a record $288.9 million worth of alcohol last fiscal year, according to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. 

What’s more remarkable is that this figure doesn’t include beer and wine sales, which, when included, bring total revenues $330.4 million.

As a proponent of legal alcohol consumption, I'm both proud and impressed by these numbers; especially in a state where pigs outnumber people 7 to 1.  

Although I admire the robust alcohol sales in my adopted state, I couldn't help but feel disappointed when I actually examined what brands appeared to be the most popular here.

So, what are the most sought after spirits in Iowa?

Based on information from the division, here are the state’s top 5 selling alcohol brands (and my asides on them) in ascending order:

5. Five O’Clock Vodka - 60,937 cases sold.

I have literally never heard of this vodka until I read the division's report. It’s apparently produced by Laird & Company, a New Jersey-based company that is recognized as America’s first commercial distillery.

Since I have no personal experience with the beverage, I’ll let this 5-star review from describe the product:

“This is quite possibly the worst liquor that I've ever had, honestly. However, a half gallon of the viscous stuff will only set you back around $12.25 or so (depending on where you live) and the hangover isn't as bad as I've gotten from other cheap liquors. This stuff got me through college.”

4. Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey - 74,881 cases sold.

I’m actually shocked that Fireball is not in the top 3; this is a travesty. The flavor of Fireball reminds me of that weird Hot Tamale candy that comes in a box except that it's actually tasty and doesn't get stuck in your teeth.

Fun fact, a buddy of mine from Newton, Iowa, once had a sponsorship deal with Fireball after writing a rock ballad about the beverage.

3. Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum - 86,487 cases sold.

I’m not sure what’s more iconic: The slight bite and smooth taste of Captain when combined with Diet Coke and a lime wedge or the brand’s logo, which features "Captain Morgan" striking a pose gripping a sword in one hand and planting one leg on a rum barrel while channeling the Dustin Hoffman's look in “Hook.” 

Either way, I can't hate on Captain (Yes, I'm aware this is a hater's guide) and it deserves its spot and all the sales.

2. Hawkeye Vodka - 101,837 cases sold.

I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and I'm a huge Jayhawk fan and I prefer brown liquors over white liquor with the exception of tequila, so I have had zero incentive to try Hawkeye.

That said, in my four years in Iowa I have tasted Hawkeye once (or twice) because my friends apparently hate me and that was plenty for me.

I don’t understand the popularity of this rubbing alcohol disguised as a spirit; however, considering its price and high proof, I can see why some people would be willing to subject themselves to it.

A better question: Are Iowa State fans allowed to drink Hawkeye?

1. Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey - 157,190 cases sold.

BV is the undisputed king of hooch in Iowa and again I have to ask why? While BV isn’t extremely terrible, the next highest selling whiskeys in Iowa — other than Fireball — are Jack Daniel's (44,387 cases sold) and Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey (40,288 cases sold) which are far superior products.

Hopefully, with Templeton Rye Whiskey preparing to distill its wonderful product in its home state in the near future, these sales figures will be drastically altered.

But until then, cheers!


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