There seem to be so many of these colorful infographics around these days that I could post one almost every day and not run out for a while. So here’s today’s, Boozin’ A Colorful Look at the U.S.’s Drinking Habits and How We Stack Up. One curious figure I noticed, especially given the whining of the neo-prohibitionists. We have one of the highest teetotaler percentages, WTF? That’s disappointing. Another factoid that stood out was that the heaviest drinking day of the year was the day before Thanksgiving, what they referred to as “Black Out Wednesday” — do I hear a new holiday being created? That surprised me, though while they do list sources at the bottom of the chart, it’s not clear where that one came from. I would have thought Halloween, or one of the summer big picnic holidays.
Am I reading the graphic wrong, or is it actually claiming that the US produces, in an average month, in terms of volume 85 times as much hard liquor as it does wine? Doesn’t that seem kinda implausible? (Or, again, I may just be reading something incorrectly.)
Jay Brooks says
No that’s right, about 82.5 times by my calculations. It does seem high, but I only track beer, so I honestly don’t know how accurate those are. The graphic says they came from the Department of the Treasury, who you’d at least things would get them right.
Here’s a possible explanation for the disparity between the wine & hard liquor numbers (anything 20% plus).
WIne’s made (crush & fermentation) in the fall. Very little gets bottled immediately after fermentation’s complete, save for French “nouveau” (which the US wineries who sell it label sometimes as “beaujoulais”) & stuff like “2 Buck Chuck” (& even that probably “ages” for a couple of months). Crush is Sept-early Nov; add 4-6 weeks for fermentation – then it goes into aging vats. Don’t know exactly when ATF collects the taxes, but I suspect that it’s @ bottling time, which is done mostly in the spring/early summer in CA (from last yr’s vintage for whites, 2+ yrs back vintages for reds). Bottom line is that ATF is collecting a lot of wine #’s for 3-4 months, then virtually nothing the rest of the year. And there’s also a lot of inexpensive non-US table wine available to compete.
Booze, like beer, is made constantly, & the US has way more high-volume distilleries than any other country. Kentucky makes all the bourbon (could it survive without its exclusivity right to the “bourbon” trademark & all the taxes generated from the distillers? – LOL). Other US distillers make much of the rye, plus a lot of cheap vodka, gin, rum, brandy, & liqueurs. Scots make Scotch; Canadians make Canadian; Irish make Irish; Russians; Poles; & other Europeans make Vodka, the French make cognac, & Mexicans make tequila. Specialty stuff is scattered all over, but most of it’s made here or in western Europe. Suntory, one of the big 4 Japanese beverage companies (Kirin, Asahi, & Sapporo are the others) also makes booze (don’t know for sure if the others do). But hey’re a small blip on the radar; ditto for the rum-makers in the Carribean countries. Further, some “offshore” brands have licensing agreements w/American companies (similar to those of offshore brews), so the quantity & tax #’s go into US stats.
That the US produces so much booze doesn’t surprise me at all, as US & Canada grow more grain than the rest of the world combined, & we have the advantage when it comes to exporting, given that we’re bigger, have 2-ocean easy access, & can ramp up production quickly for any fad that comes along.
BUT – wherever it’s made – beer still rules as most folks’ preferred drink!.