In West Virginia, the tax on spirits stood out to McAdams.
"In most states when you look across the board, spirit taxes tend to be almost always higher than beer or wine," McAdams said. "In West Virginia that is not the case" - wine is taxed more heavily - "and I imagine that probably has something to do with industries in the area."
Overall, McAdams said, they were surprised at how many states they thought would have lower taxes but leveled higher taxes and vice-versa.
Lisa Reveal, who works as Drug Emporium's wine director at its Patrick Street location in Charleston, was pleasantly surprised with the state's rank.
Her store carries around 2,000 varieties of wine and 275 to 300 different kinds of craft beers, and Reveal said in the last few years, the store has seen an increase in sales.
"When the state changed the law to allow higher-octane beers with 7, 8 or 9 percent of alcohol, that's when [sales] went gangbusters," Reveal said.
In 2009, West Virginia lawmakers agreed to allow the sale of beer that is as much as 12 percent alcohol. Before that, the limit was 6 percent
She added the store is increasing its selection as more and more beverages are approved in the state.
But while the state enjoys consumer-friendly taxes, Reveal said the state needs more suppliers for beer, wine and spirits.
"There are so many beers and wines not even registered in this state," Reveal said. "If some of these brewers or wineries would realize what a market West Virginia is, we can sell pretty much anything we get our hands on."
Many of the craft beer companies are smaller companies and are just not ready to make that financial commitment to come into a small market like West Virginia, Reveal said.
Despite the findings of his study, McAdams realizes that the taxes on a particular kind of drink aren't going to be the determining factor for a lot of drinkers.
"While the state taxes are certainly a piece of pricing and an important factor in the equation, they are by no means the largest determinant of what a beverage is going to cost the average consumer," McAdams said.
Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.