Vodka rules at state's liquor distribution warehouse

GLUCKSTADT – On any given day, more than $35 million worth of liquor and wine sits in an inconspicuous warehouse less than a quarter mile from Interstate 55 – and what do Mississippians prefer?
“The most popular spirit currently in the state is Taaka vodka,” Alcohol Beverage Control Director Patsy Holman said. “Seagram’s Gin was the most popular last year, but it just goes in waves.”
The 211,000-square-foot building houses about 425,000 cases of every type of liquor and wine sold in the state of Mississippi.
In the warehouse, pallets of spirits are stacked up to 25 feet high as an intricate system of forklifts, conveyor belts and over 90 workers move every bottle of liquor sold in Mississippi to and from the shipping trucks.
The popularity of Taaka is obvious. Several pallets sit in the front center near the loading docks with hundreds of cases ready to be shipped to various liquor stores.
In the chill room, where much of the wine is held, similarly sized pallets of Barefoot Moscato, the most popular wine in the state, await their destinations, from Tunica to Hancock counties.
Under the direction of the Mississippi Department of Revenue, the Alcohol Beverage Control warehouse in Madison County shipped tens of millions of bottles of alcohol, earning $49.6 million in profit for the state.
Last year, Mississippians purchased over 2.7 million cases of spirits while over $250 million worth of wine and liquor passed through the state’s packaging stores and restaurants.
“We run the exclusive wholesale operation of alcohol in the state of Mississippi,” MDR spokeswomen Kathy Waterbury said. “The net profit of those sales totals to over $49 million for the state, and that does not include the taxes levied on the alcohol.”
Since liquor was made legal in Mississippi in 1966, the ABC has made over $1 billion for the state. The ABC places orders to suppliers, wineries and distilleries which are held at the warehouse on consignment. From there, package stores place their orders online to the ABC which then ships the liquor and wine to distributors across the state.
Besides package stores, restaurants that serve wine and liquor must also abide by the ABC regulations. However, some exceptions are made for restaurants that don’t purchase alcohol in bulk or do not need an entire case of one type of liquor.
“Some of the smaller restaurants may just need one or two nice bottles of wine and don’t want to buy a case,” Waterbury said. “In that case, they can seek permission to buy from a local distributor.”

Matt Stuart/Madison County Jail