Wisconsin Drinks A Lot of Brandy. Here’s Proof.

Korbel is the largest maker of America’s brandy and Wisconsin is its top customer.

According to the California brandy maker, Korbel, Wisconsin is responsible for drinking half of their brandy. In 2019, around 275,000 cases of Korbel brandy were sold in the U.S. with over 150,000 of those cases being sold in Wisconsin, meaning that more than half of the brandy Korbel sells comes to Wisconsin.

With the brandy old fashioned as a Wisconsin cocktail staple, this news comes as no surprise to local Milwaukee distilleries.

“I’m not surprised at all that those numbers are accurate because almost everyone I knew growing up were drinking brandy and brandy old fashioneds,” said Ross Salchow, Marketing Director and Gin Enthusiast at Great Lakes Distillery. “People who come in for the tour always ask, too, if we have a brandy.”

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For Jason Neu, founder of SoulBoxer, which bottles ready-made cocktails such as the brandy old fashioned, it didn’t surprise him either. “It’s something that’s always floated around and when I was younger I never thought anything of it because every bar had brandy and everybody drank brandy. Then, when you travel a little bit, you notice that nobody has brandy on their back bar. It’s a rarity,” said Neu. “It’s starting to actually catch on in other parts of the country, but years ago you couldn’t find brandy anywhere.”

Many of the top brandy makers, including Korbel which is located in California, are made in states other than Wisconsin. 

“We would like to see Wisconsin drink 50% of the brandy from companies that are based here in Wisconsin,” said Evan Hughes, President and co-founder of Central Standard Craft Distillery. “We’re really proud here at Central Standard and as Wisconsinites of our heritage and of our affinity and love of brandy.”

Aside from Wisconsin, other states that are top consumers of Korbel’s brandy include California, Minnesota, Kentucky and Florida.

As Charlie Berens said in Manitowoc Minute: Episode 59, “That’s it? Wisconsin, come on, pick up the slack. Jeepers criminy.”

CORRECTION: This article has been corrected to reflect that Wisconsin drinks half of Korbel’s brandy, not the world’s. 

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Allie is an Editorial Intern at Milwaukee Magazine. She is a senior at UW-Milwaukee studying Creative Writing and Journalism. You can follow her on Instagram at @alliehabck