Dayton-based Buckeye Vodka sales triple expectations

Mark Fisher

DAYTON — Buckeye Vodka’s sales have tripled its projections and the spirit brand has sold its 2,000th case in just six months, according to Buckeye Vodka’s chief executive.

The vodka, distilled and bottled in Dayton, is now carried in 232 retail stores in Ohio, as well as in hundreds of bars and restaurants across the state.

“We’re thrilled with the achievement,” said Jim Finke, CEO of Crystal Spirits LLC, the parent company of Buckeye Vodka. Finke said the sales translate into “nearly $500,000 infused into the Ohio economy.”

The company has hired a distributor, Southern Wine and Spirits of Ohio, to expand Buckeye Vodka’s footprint across the state, Finke said Tuesday. Southern has 37 sales representatives throughout the state and will “take us to the next level, hopefully,” Finke said.

There are no immediate plans to market the vodka outside Ohio or to branch out into other spirits such as gin or whiskey, the Buckeye Vodka CEO said. “We want to focus on Ohio for now and manage our growth,” Finke said.

Plans call for the release of 1.75-liter bottles in the coming months, Finke said. Buckeye Vodka is currently available in 750-ml bottles that sell for about $19.95.

Ohioans are drawn to the fact that Buckeye Vodka is a local product, Finke said. “They love the bottle and the logo, and they like the story behind the brand,” Finke said. “The fact that it is priced under $20 is just icing on the cake.”

Finke, his brother Chris Finke, Tom Rambasek and Marty Clarke developed the Buckeye Vodka concept in 2009 after noticing that the spirits market was growing despite the recession. The Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control reported that sales of spirits reached $753.7 million in 2010, an increase of $19 million from 2009.

Four out of the top 10 spirits brands in Ohio, based on volume sales, are vodkas, with the Kamchatka brand capturing the No. 1 spot overall.

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