Lately, press releases from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission are a deluge of marijuana updates. In February, however, the commission announced that 2014 was a record-breaking year for spirits sales, raking in $531.6 million. Of that total, $68 million came from products distilled in Oregon.
While a green haze settles upon Oregon, the numbers prove Oregonians enjoy throwing back, serving up and brewing the hard stuff more than ever. This is no longer a state known just for its beer and pinots, but also for its burgeoning micro-distillery scene from Eugene’s own Crescendo! and Elixir Inc. to Bend’s beloved Crater Lake Spirits to Corvallis’ Oregon Ryegrass Spirits and Vivacity Spirits.
But don’t toast yourself just yet: The OLCC also reported that the sticky candy liqueur that masquerades as whiskey — Fireball Cinnamon Whisky — outsold any other booze in 2014. So here’s a call to action to all those sippers, guzzlers, louses, connoisseurs and bon vivants in our fair state: Drink local spirits and knock Fireball off the shelf.
Or don’t. Either way, Oregon and cities across the state reap rewards. In OLCC’s 2013-2014 fiscal year, $8.6 million of liquor revenue went to the Mental Health, Alcoholism and Drug Services Account, and the commission allocated $2.2 million to Eugene and more than $830,000 to Springfield. Now that’s something we can raise a glass to.
In Eugene Weekly’s 2015 Swizzle, we cheers Oregon spirits and the bars and bartenders (and musicians) that keep them flowing. With St. Patty's Day around the corner, remember to tip your bartenders and thank your designated drivers.