August 25, 2019
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See how state officials want to change the price of Maine liquors

A glass of cognac is pictured on a bar in Manhattan in a November 2015 file photo.

If sipping a Brandy Alexander is your idea of a good time, you’re in luck. It’s about to get cheaper.

That’s one of the few categories of liquors that would cost less under a new pricing formula set to take effect Oct. 1.

Those changes focus price increases on certain types of “value” liquors, which are generally bottles that now cost less than $22. Maine-made spirits would stay roughly flat while most categories of “regular” liquors would see modest changes, according to a Bangor Daily News analysis.

Regular brandies would drop in price the most, on average, while value brandy like Maine’s top-selling Allen’s Coffee Brandy would see modest increases (all but Allen’s 1.75 liter bottle would rise by 50 cents a piece).

State officials noted they hoped to increase profits in their “value” categories and bring profit growth more in line with sales growth. The new formula includes required markups by bottle size, according to an email from Tracy Willett, the bureau’s manager of liquor operations.

That boost in profits could happen in another way, too: companies could choose to lower the wholesale cost they charge to the state in order to reduce increases in the shelf price.

For instance, in early 2016, Sazerac Co. decided to take $12.89 less per case on its small 50-milliliter bottles of flavored Fireball Whisky to keep the retail price at 99 cents.

The new formula would price most of those 50-milliliter bottles — called “nips” — at about $1.49 a piece, making for the largest percentage increase among all the liquors the state sells.

[ Maine liquor panel rejects ban on ‘nips’]

David Heidrich, spokesman for the bureau, said it’s giving suppliers an opportunity now to review how the formula will affect the shelf price of their products, absent any changes.

For the Brandy Alexander drinker, it’s not to worry. The state’s most expensive liquor — Richard Hennessy cognac — will remain a cool $4,696.99 for a 750 milliliter bottle.

See all of the proposed changes in the interactive graphic below.

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