Ohio liquor sales level off; volume down first time in years, revenue up a hair

Officials say customers are buying more bourbon, more tequila, more high-priced items



Ohio liquor sales revenue increased in 2022, but narrowly, not like the pandemic-induced retail surge seen during the “anomaly years” of 2020 and 2021.

State liquor agencies sold $1.74 billion of high-proof liquor, a 0.76% boost from the $1.73 billion racked up in 2021 and a nearly 8.3% boost compared to the $1.57 billion earned in 2018.

Last year saw those agencies sell 17 million gallons of liquor, a nearly 1.8% decrease from the 17.3 million gallons sold in 2021, but up 1.2% from the 16.8 million gallons sold in 2020, according to Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Liquor Control data.

That’s still enough to fill almost 26 Olympic-size swimming pools ... or 1.45 billion shot glasses.



“As evidenced by the expected increase in revenue and the slight decrease in gallonage, premiumization, a trend of buying higher-priced items, is something that we’re continuing to see,” said Kristen Castle, brand manager for the Division of Liquor Control. “That is to say, the national trend of purchasing higher-priced products holds true in Ohio as well.”

Jignesh (Jay) Patel, co-owner of Centerville Liquor & Wine, said the initial surge in sales during the first part of the pandemic saw shoppers emptying shelves, a mania that has since subsided. But even with fewer people having to stay at home or work from home, revenues have continued to rise.

Sample HTML block

Ohio's most-sold liquors in 2022

RankBy cost soldBy volume sold
2Crown RoyalCrown Royal
4Jack DanielsJack Daniels
6JamesonJim Beam
7Jim BeamPatron
8Don JulioCaptain Morgan
9Remy MartinFireball
11SmirnoffCuervo Especial
12Cuervo EspecialJameson
13AbsolutNew Amsterdam Vodka
14Captain MorganHennessy
15Maker's MarkBlack Velvet
17BacardiEvan Williams
18FireballPaul Masson
19Woodford ReserveGrey Goose
20Grey GooseKamchatka

Last year Patel saw sales increase 10% compared to 2021, which he said continued a upward trend of sales increasing each year since the 5,500-square-foot store opened in the Centerville Square Shopping Center in late 2019. Prior to that store, Patel owned and operated a location in Sugarcreek Twp. for about six years.

“I think it’s more to do with the bourbon craze,” Patel said of the profitable progression. “We get, every day, so many new customers who are trying to get into trying new liquor, bourbon more than all the others. There are so many good bourbons coming out and I think more and more people are going towards that.”

Ohio Liquor is a partnership between the Ohio Division of Liquor Control and JobsOhio Beverage System (JOBS), formed to use the profits from the sale of high-proof liquor in Ohio to fund job creation and bring new capital investment to the state, according to OHLQ.

JOBS supplies the products to OHLQ stores and owns the profits from the sale of all high-proof liquor in the state. It uses those profits, not taxes, to provide funding for JobsOhio, a private nonprofit corporation dedicated to Ohio’s economic development, OHLQ said.

Ohio has four listing periods per year where product manufacturers can submit to sell high-proof spirits in the state. This month is slated to see the rollout of 109 new products, including 74 new whiskies and 14 new tequila products, with the remainder divided between gin, rum, brandy and cordials.



The pandemic saw sales shift from wholesale to retail as restaurants and bars closed or significantly curtailed their hours and consumers turned to liquor stores to create cocktails at home.

As various restrictions lifted, overall sales growth from year to year continued in the single digits, Castle said.

“Minus the anomaly years of 2020 and 2021, we’re seeing things return to a new normal,” she said. “Relatively speaking, the market is also returning to (its) normalcy.”

One “happy surprise” is the trending shift from other categories to tequila, which in 2022 saw the largest dollar growth of all categories and driven solely by volume sales (6.7%), Castle said.

The spirit also was one of three types to see growth in terms of the amount of gallons sold.

Ohio liquor sales

Type of measure20182019202020212022
Gallons sold (in millions)14.7M15.2M16.8M17.3M17.0M
Sales (in billions)$1.23B$1.32B$1.57B$1.73B1.74B

That growth trend has been happening for more than five years, Castle said. American Whiskey is the largest category in terms of dollars, but second to tequila in growth and mostly driven by premiumization/pricing, she said.

Another surprise is seeing Ohio rise to the fourth largest whiskey market in the country, Castle said.

That was readily apparent Friday morning as people lined up outside Centerville Liquor & Wine to get the latest allocated bourbon.

Vodka continues to be the shop’s biggest seller, and sales of tequila and other agave-based spirits continues to grow rapidly, Patel said.

“People are sort of branching out and seeing new kinds of things besides just bourbon and scotch,” he said. “We do our best to keep our shelves stocked and get what our customers request.”

Top 20 brands sold in Ohio (by dollars)

  1. Tito’s
  2. Crown Royal
  3. Patron
  4. Jack Daniels
  5. Hennessy
  6. Jameson
  7. Jim Beam
  8. Don Julio
  9. Remy Martin
  10. Casamigos
  11. Smirnoff
  12. Cuervo Especial
  13. Absolut
  14. Captain Morgan
  15. Maker’s Mark
  16. 1800
  17. Bacardi
  18. Fireball
  19. Woodford Reserve
  20. Grey Goose

Top 20 brands sold in Ohio (by volume)

  1. Tito’s
  2. Crown Royal
  3. Smirnoff
  4. Jack Daniels
  5. Bacardi
  6. Jim Beam
  7. Patron
  8. Captain Morgan
  9. Fireball
  10. Absolut
  11. Cuervo Especial
  12. Jameson
  13. New Amsterdam Vodka
  14. Hennessy
  15. Black Velvet
  16. 1800
  17. Evan Williams
  18. Paul Masson
  19. Grey Goose
  20. Kamchatka

American Whiskey: Ohio’s top 10 brands for 2022

  1. Jack Daniels
  2. Jim Beam
  3. Maker’s Mark
  4. Woodford Reserve
  5. Weller
  6. Bulleit
  7. Wild Turkey
  8. Evan Williams
  9. Four Roses
  10. Elijah Craig

Vodka: Ohio’s top 10 brands for 2022

  1. Tito’s
  2. Smirnoff
  3. Absolut
  4. Grey Goose
  5. Ciroc
  6. Ketel One
  7. New Amsterdam Vodka
  8. Svedka
  9. Skyy
  10. Pinnacle

Tequila: Ohio’s top 10 brands for 2022

  1. Patron
  2. Don Julio
  3. Casamigos
  4. Cuervo Especial
  5. 1800
  6. Teremana
  7. Espolon
  8. Avion
  9. Montezuma
  10. La Prima

About the Author