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November 12, 2020

These are the top-selling liquors and wines in Pennsylvania in the last year

The store closures prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic sparked unprecedented online alcohol sales

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2020 PA Liquor Sales Prem Pal Singh/

The top-selling wines and spirits in Pennsylvania were unflavored vodka, bourbon, California cabernet sauvignon, California chardonnay and flavored vodka.

It's been a tough year for people across Pennsylvania. Despite months-long shutdowns to liquor stores and bars, residents found a way to get their hands on alcohol.

As part of the widespread restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the state closed its Fine Wine and Good Spirits' stores from mid-March through early May, when stores gradually began reopening.

Still, state residents purchased $2.4 billion in alcohol products during the unprecedented last fiscal year, according to an annual report released last week by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Online liquor sales increased by more than 437% from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, generating a total of $26.8 million in sales – a figure mostly attributed to liquor store closures.

It may come as no surprise that March 16 marked the day with the highest liquor sales. That day, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-essential businesses, including bars, restaurants and liquor stores, to close at midnight. Residents rushed to the liquor stores, spending $29.9 million on alcohol products. 

The next six highest days were associated with the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years holidays. 

Philadelphia purchased $210 million of alcohol – second only to Allegheny County, which spent $288 million. Montgomery, Bucks, Chester and Delaware counties ranked third through sixth in sales. 

The top-selling wines and spirits were unflavored vodka, bourbon, California cabernet sauvignon, California chardonnay and flavored vodka. Scotch, Canadian whisky, flavored whisky, cognac and spiced rum rounded out the top 10. 

Unflavored vodka generated $276.6 million in sales. Bourbon brought in $203.6 million. 

California cabernet sauvignon was the most popular wine in 30 counties. It was matched by boxed wine in another 30 counties. Overall, boxed wine sales increased by 3.6% for a total of $128.4 million in sales. 

Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, Tito's Handmade Vodka and Crown Russe Vodka ranked as the top three most popular liquor purchases, based on units sold. 

Philadelphia also hosted the most profitable Fine Wine and Good Spirits liquor store in the state at 2238 Washington Ave. 

Overall, net income was $17.7 million higher than the previous year – an increase of 9.2%. Yet, sales and tax revenue dropped by $10.9 million – a 4.1% decline. 

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