Jun 3, 2024 - Business

Virginia distilleries generate $1 billion a year for the state's economy

Illustration of a cocktail with a garnish shaped like a dollar sign.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Virginia's distilleries generate more than $1 billion a year in economic impact for the state, according a new report from the Virginia Spirits Board.

Why it matters: The state's spirit industry supports thousands of jobs and generates millions in revenue for local businesses, but it's far less known than Virginia's wineries and breweries.

  • The state is trying to change that by investing in the industry.

The big picture: The General Assembly created the Virginia Spirits Board in 2020 to promote locally made booze.

  • The board commissioned an economic impact study to better understand the current local spirit landscape and identify opportunities to grow it.

What they found: Virginia distilleries generated more than $275.9 million in revenue in 2022.

  • The spirit industry supports around 3,081 jobs in Virginia and pays workers more than $139 million in wages.
  • Those jobs include folks working in farming, restaurants, hotels, trucking, glass manufacturing, printing, marketing and barrel production.
  • The 81 licensed distilleries in Virginia produced 4.37 million gallons of booze in 2022, including absinthe, bourbon, brandy, gin, moonshine, rum and rye.

The intrigue: VSP also commissioned a consumer-focused study as part of its report and found most Virginia spirit drinkers drink at home.

  • And when they do, they're mostly likely sipping whiskey, the most commonly consumed spirit in Virginia, followed by vodka.

Fun fact: The very first batch of liquor distilled on American soil was made at Berkeley Plantation in Charles City just over 400 years ago, making Virginia (and the Richmond region) the birthplace of American spirits, according to VSP.

  • Virginia is also the birthplace of U.S.-made beer and wine, so you're welcome America.

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