The Coastal Packet: The strange thing Mainers like to drink

Saturday, June 24

The strange thing Mainers like to drink

Atlas Obcura - Maine, unlike most states, is a “control state,” meaning the state government maintains some level of monopolistic control over the distribution and/or sale of alcohol. What this also means is that Maine has extremely precise records of exactly what Mainers are drinking. It’s how we know that of the 10 most popular bottles of alcohol sold in the state in 2016, three of them are just different sizes of the same booze.

It would be reasonable to expect that brand to be, say, Jack Daniels or Smirnoff or Bacardi, something like that. It’s not. The most popular liquor in Maine by an extremely large margin—nearly two-and-a-half times as popular as the second-most, in terms of number of cases sold—is a coffee-flavored liqueur called Allen’s Coffee Brandy.

Allen’s is not a brandy, exactly; strictly speaking, a brandy is a spirit made by distilling wine. Allen’s is technically a liqueur, a neutral grain spirit like Everclear that’s been mixed with flavorings and sugar. Coffee-flavored liqueurs are not particularly popular in most of the U.S. In other control states, like Oregon and Pennsylvania, the only liqueur to make the top 10 list during the last two years is Fireball, a cinnamon-whiskey liqueur (it ranks fourth in Maine).

Even weirder, Allen’s isn’t even from Maine—it’s produced in Massachusetts, just outside Boston. And yet, the manufacturer tells me, 85 percent of the Allen’s they produce is sold in Maine. So why is a Massachusetts-produced coffee liqueur more popular in Maine than any vodka or whiskey?

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