In the course of writing my last post about two new cream liqueurs, Amarula and Kahlua Coffee Cream, I ran across a truly bizarre-looking fact about Kahlua. In the United States, Kahlua is sold at 40 proof, or 20% alcohol by volume. At least is it’s sold that way everywhere except my state of residence, Ohio.
KAHLÚA® Liqueur. 20% Alc./Vol. (21.5% alc./vol., available only in Ohio).
Woot! Go Bucks… or something.
Seriously, what is this all about? Why is Kahlua sold at a higher concentration of alcohol than other states? I searched the web to find out why, but while many have asked this question, no one seems to have an answer.
Do Buckeyes have a higher tolerance for booze than other, lesser Americans?
Fortunately for my peace of mind, and that of thousands of internet insomniacs out there, I have access to one of Kahlua’s brand promoters.
What awesome perks are bequeathed to those who blog about cocktails….
I know! Isn’t fame
and fortune fabulous?
At any rate, the explanation is rather simple…
Let me guess.
We have a strange, inexplicable, and pointless anomaly.
I’m guessing the reason is government related.
Got it in one, my perspicacious sock-puppet!
Ohio’s bizarro liquor laws strike again. In Ohio, the state segments alcoholic beverage sales into what we citizens commonly think of as
beer and wine. You can buy beer and wine in grocery stores, etc. Liquor can only be purchased from the state’s liquor agents. The state defines this distinction by a simple criteria: the percentage of alcohol by volume.
And that percentage is 20%.
Now, Kahlua wants to be sold in state liquor stores, next to the vodka, the rum, and most other liqueurs. But Ohio would classify Kahlua’s normal formulation as low alcohol, and refuse to carry it, sending it instead to the grocery stores and UDFs.
So Kahlua’s maker, Pernod Ricard, has to manufacture a completely separate product (separate production run, labeling, and distribution) to satisfy Ohio’s caprice. Kahlua is sold at a higher ABV amount in Ohio so that the state won’t treat this rum and coffee liqueur like a wine.
Go Bucks! We’re number (twenty) One (and a half)!