Black Velvet

Stammer Liquor in Sheldon keeps plenty of Black Velvet in stock as the drink remains popular in the community and against tops the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division's top brands list.

SHELDON—Looking at a list of the 50 best-selling alcoholic beverage brands sold across Iowa during fiscal year 2019, which ended June 30, the thing that most surprised the owner of Stammer Liquor in Sheldon was a drink that did not make the cut.

“Around here, a really big one that I’m not seeing on the list is — it’s not a particular brand, it’s just a type — is blackberry brandy,” said the store’s purveyor and namesake Turner Stammer.

“After you get through say like Black Velvet, Captain and maybe say Fireball, that would probably be fourth or fifth.”

Besides the omission of blackberry brandy, Stammer agreed most of his customers’ tastes reflect those of other Iowans, based on information from the 2019 Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division’s fiscal year 2019 annual report.

Here are the top 10 brands, based on case sales, from the report:

1. Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey.

2. Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum.

3. Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.

4. Tito’s Handmade Texas Vodka.

5. Hawkeye Vodka.

6. Five O’Clock Vodka.

7. McCormick Vodka.

8. Barton Vodka.

9. Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey.

10. Jack Daniels Old #7 Black Label Tennessee Whiskey.

“The top six are spot-on for our store anyways,” Stammer said.

Grey Goose vodka came in at 42nd on the statewide list and UV Silver Vodka was 44th and both rankings garnered different reactions from Stammer.

“Grey Goose would be much higher on the list here,” he said, “UV Silver Vodka, we don’t even carry it; it just doesn’t sell.”

Stammer also has a theory on why blackberry brandy remains a staple of liquor collections in Sheldon.

“It’s like an old wives’ tale; a lot of people think if you take a shot of it a day it will keep you from getting sick,” Stammer said.

“Maybe hundreds of years ago when they actually made it with blackberries and stuff like that there was maybe something to it, but today I would imagine it’s all processed and artificial flavor and all that stuff.”

Black Velvet Toasted Caramel Canadian Whiskey, an offshoot of the original BV, was ranked 34th in sales statewide and Stammer noted it would be much higher in his store.

The state report does not include sales of beer by brand, but Stammer noted Busch Light is the top seller for his store.

“That’s the water of Iowa,” he said.

The 50-page report does, however, include how many gallons of spirits were sold in each county during the fiscal year.

With 29,203 gallons sold, O’Brien County was ranked 36th out Iowa’s 99 counties and Sioux County came in at 25th.

Polk, Linn, Scott, Johnson and Black Hawk counties — each home to one of Iowa’s larger metropolitans — were ranked first through fifth.

Blackberry brandy aside, Stammer thought it was interesting how closely the taste buds of Sheldon residents lined up with their fellow Iowans.

“I grew up in Spirit Lake so you would have a lot of Captain drinkers, a lot Bacardi, Crown, Jack, stuff like that, but almost no one drank Black Velvet over that way,” he said.

“You come over and whoosh, it just flies out of here. Even an hour away, it’s a big difference.”