Vermont Mulls Pros & Cons of Privatizing Liquor Sales

story by Ken Picard, data by Hilary Niles / Seven Days

Graphics by Seven Days staff.
Graphics by Seven Days staff.

“Anyone who’s ever had a margarita, Manhattan or mai tai in the Green Mountain State has drunk from the river of booze that flows through Vermont’s Department of Liquor Control warehouse, the only one of its kind in the state. Vermont is one of 17 ‘control states’ in which unelected state officials direct the distribution and sale of all high-proof spirits — vodka, gin, rum, whisky, tequila, etc.” -Ken Picard

As part of Ken Picard’s investigation into the byzantine business of state liquor control, the alt-weekly Seven Days hired me to find out which types of alcohol the state’s liquor outlets sell the most of, and how much cash they rake in each year.

I sliced and diced five years worth of monthly inventory and sales data for 80 liquor outlets — 359,534 records in all — and folded in additional fields to determine the top-selling brands, locations and seasons throughout the year. Subsequent analysis revealed the meteoric ascendance of Vermont distilleries, among other insights. Data wrangling involved transfer of text to structured data files for analysis in MySQL using a Navicat database manager. I then exported queries for upload to a Google spreadsheet for shared access, and produced memos to summarize and explain my analyses for the editorial and graphics teams.

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