New whiskeys, rye (and a hurricane relief rum) coming to Virginia’s state-run liquor stores

Virginia's state-run liquor stores had a record $1 billion in sales in fiscal 2019. (Eric Taylor)
Virginia’s state-run liquor stores had a record $1 billion in sales in fiscal 2019. (Courtesy Virginia ABC)
The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority is set to add 47 new products to the shelves of state-run liquor stores in 2020, including a rum whose proceeds help fund hurricane recovery in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Five of those new products are made in Virginia itself. Virginia ABC reviews products submitted by distillers and suppliers four times a year to decide which will be sold at more than 375 stores across the state.

One of the new products is a Cruzan rum (pronounced croo’-shun) produced on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands named Hurricane Proof Rum. The spirit is bottled at 137 proof as a nod to the speed that qualifies a hurricane as a Category 5 storm.

Part of the proceeds from Hurricane Proof Rum sales will go to the Island Spirit Fund, which provides financial aid to Virgin Islands communities impacted by back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017.

New made-in-Virginia products that will be carried at Virginia ABC stores include Laird’s 10th Generation Apple Brandy-Bottled-in-Bond 5 Year from Albermarle County, Virago 151 Rum from Richmond, Trump Sauvignon Blanc from Charlottesville and freeze-dried lemon and lime cocktail garnishes from Buoys in Richmond.

Per a Virginia ABC news release, other new products added to shelves include:

  • Old Forester Craft Whiskey 1910, a tribute to the aftermath of a distillery fire in 1910.
  • The Real McCoy 12 Year Rum, named after a Prohibition-era rumrunner.
  • Tin Cup American Rye, a tribute to American miners who drank rye whiskey out of tin cups.
  • The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey, named after a bar in New York City’s lower Manhattan.

Virginia ABC stores are also following a trend, catering to drinkers who want their cocktails ready-made.

“Industry trends indicate consumers are choosing ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages more than in previous years,” said ABC Chief Executive Travis Hill. “In the New Year, we’re providing our customers with a wide selection of these popular products by stocking our shelves with 21 varieties of ready-to-drink cocktails.”

Virginia’s state-run liquor stores had a record $1 billion in sales in fiscal 2019, with about half that amount taxes and profits that go to state-funded programs.

The Virginia ABC stores with the highest sales volumes in Northern Virginia for the 2019 fiscal year were Duke Street in Alexandria and Old Courthouse Road in Tysons.

The top selling product at Virginia ABC stores in fiscal 2019 was Tito’s Handmade Vodka, followed by Hennessy V.S.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

Virginia's state-run liquor stores had a record $1 billion in sales in fiscal 2019. (Eric Taylor)
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