After much controversy, Everclear became legal in Virginia on July 1st. The unflavored, odorless grain alcohol is 151-proof, suggesting it is potentially dangerous and should not be sold in stores. The bill passed on the pretense that Everclear be banned from any Virginia ABC stores within a three-mile radius of college campuses.
Virginia joined Vermont as the only two states that prohibited the sale of 151-proof Everclear. Binge drinking concerns caused Governor Terry McAuliffe to veto the bill in 2016. McAuliffe shared concerns that young people would be “drawn to the high proof and low cost”.
However, the bill passed this year with the inclusion of the three-mile radius and an added 2022 expiration date.
One hundred stores across Virginia will test out the profitability of this new mandate. Out of Virginia’s 367 state-operated liquor stores, 106 of them were immediately taken off the table because they fell within the three-mile radius. The initial 100 stores were then chosen based off of sales volume.
Luxco, the St. Louis manufacturer of Everclear, conducted research on their sales demographics. They found most of its customers are 31 or older and use the alcohol in “infused cocktails”. Despite its target demographic, the legalization of such a strong proof of alcohol is still concerning for many. University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan had the same thought.
At a hearing early this year, Sullivan said lawmakers were undertaking “an experiment on students” and likened Everclear to a “date rape” drug that could be used in sexual assaults.
Following the passing of the legislation and the addition of the new three-mile radii, Sullivan was slightly more at ease, but cautions everyone of the effects of the alcohol.
“We are pleased that ABC has shown concern about Everclear and its potential harmful effects in the college environment,” Sullivan said. “We are encouraging the systematic collection of data between now and the renewal of the statute that permits ABC to sell Everclear. In the meantime, parents and universities will need to consider how to educate young people about the potential dangers of a clear, odorless, and tasteless form of potent alcohol.”
Because Everclear arrived in stores in July, sales data for the month of August will be the first available to track Everclear’s profits. However, Everclear’s true progress will be tested in comparing sales data from August to September when colleges are back in full swing.