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Bourbon was the victim!

Retaliatory tariffs and trade wars pose severe threats to global exports.

In 2018, the European Union (EU) imposed a 25% tariff on American whiskey and other goods in response to a US tariff on steel and aluminum implemented by the Trump Administration. As a result, bourbon exports to the EU and the UK, the state's largest whiskey export market, were cut in half. However, despite the tariffs, US distilleries produced a record amount of bourbon in 2020.

The Biden Administration has worked to reset relationships with the EU and the UK, and in October 2021, the US and the EU agreed to suspend the retaliatory tariff on American whiskeys in the steel-aluminum dispute for two years. Separate agreements were reached in June 2021 with the EU and UK in the World Trade Organization's Boeing-Airbus disputes to suspend tariffs for five years on various distilled spirits.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles praised the agreement and directly advocated for the end of bourbon tariffs while visiting the UK. The bourbon industry in Kentucky is responsible for $9 billion in annual economic output, creates an estimated 22,500 jobs with a $1.23 billion annual payroll, and uses more than 75% of corn from Kentucky farms.

Before the tariffs, bourbon exports increased by 98% between 2010 and 2017. The tariffs decreased bourbon exports by 35% in 2020, with shipments to the EU decreasing by nearly 50%. The Kentucky Distillers' Association (KDA) President, Eric Gregory, said the tariffs created a "four-year dry spell."

With the suspension of these tariffs June 1, 2022, the industry has seen over 24% growth in the European markets.

About the author

Andrew Newby

Andrew is a passionate entrepreneur and experienced tech strategist with a deep love for the Bourbon industry. As the CEO of The Bourbon Reserve, he leads the charge in navigating the exciting world of Bourbon investments. Andrew's entrepreneurial spirit extends to co-founding The Toledo Spirits Co. and HEAVY Beer Co., where he has played an instrumental role in their growth and success. Alongside his ventures in the spirits industry, Andrew boasts a strong background in software product development, making him a versatile leader in both the Bourbon and tech worlds.