Regulation of the Day 56: Kahlua in Ohio

Kahlua contains 20% alcohol in 49 states. But in Ohio, it is 21.5%. Weird, huh?

Turns out regulations are the reason. My friend Jacob Grier pointed me to an article showing that Ohio groups alcoholic beverages into two categories: wine/beer and spirits. Any beverage below 20% alcohol is in the wine/beer category and can be sold in grocery stores. Anything above 20% is classed as a spirit and can only be sold in state-run liquor stores.

Drinkers often mix Kahlua with spirits such as vodka. So the company actually changed its recipe in Ohio to ensure that Kahlua would appear in stores next to its complementary products. The benefit to consumers from this regulatory scheme is unclear.