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The top selling liquor in Utah — and it’s making the state millions

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SALT LAKE CITY -- In a state that tightly controls the sale of liquor, Utah is making record breaking profits.

As the population grows, so do the number of drinkers. A series of public records requests by FOX 13 to Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control revealed just how much.

The average Utahn (per capita) consumed 2.76 gallons of alcohol in 2015, up slightly from 2.65 gallons in 2014.

When it comes to what Utah buys the most of, the top five selling spirits are:

TOP5_SPIRITS

"Utah, you should drink better!" joked Steven "Waldo" Jones, a bartender at Piper Down in Salt Lake City.

When it comes to wines, three of the top sellers are box wines (with Veuve Cliquot thrown in).

TOP5_WINES

When it comes to beers, two of the top five sellers are local favorites belonging to Squatters and Wasatch breweries:

TOP5_BEER

"I like that people are drinking local beers. We do have really good local beers," said Jeremiah Roth, a founder of Salt Lake City's "Drinking Liberally" chapter, a social group that meets Fridays at Piper Down.

Being a liquor control state, Utah makes a lot of money. The DABC has seen record-breaking sales year after year. The agency brought in nearly $197 million in fiscal year 2015. It's up from $184 million the year before. The latest annual report from the DABC shows that operating costs remained the same and when all the bills were paid, the state made $95 million in profit.

"We're dropping $95 million net profit which goes back to the state of Utah and the general fund," said DABC Commissioner Jeff Wright. "That doesn't include the $41 million that goes to the school lunch program. That's a significant contribution to the state of Utah."

Governor Gary Herbert speaks at his monthly KUED news conference on Thursday, November 12, 2015. (Image courtesy KUED)

Governor Gary Herbert speaks at his monthly KUED news conference on Thursday, November 12, 2015. (Image courtesy KUED)

Utah Governor Gary Herbert acknowledges alcohol makes millions for the state, but he said he favors the existing controls the state has in place.

"I think the culture of Utah and what we've taken as a position with state control of liquor has been, 'We don't want to promote it.' But it is a legal substance and it should be accessible," he said in a recent news conference.

A 2013 study by the University of Utah found the DABC could build 12 new stores to keep up with consumer demand. The Utah State Legislature earlier this year approved one store in West Valley City.

Locations of proposed liquor stores in the Salt Lake Valley from a study commissioned by the DABC.

Locations of proposed liquor stores in the Salt Lake Valley from a 2013 study commissioned by the DABC.

"We're going to ask for more stores, and we're currently and actively pursuing with municipalities the idea of having more stores," Wright told FOX 13. "We're going to ask, who knows if we shall receive, but we're certainly going to ask."

KSTU Fox 13 News Top 10 Most Profitable Liquor Stores in Utah 2015 last edit

Full List: Utah Liquor Store Sales 2015

Full List: Utah Liquor Store Sales 2015