Whiskey Market: Tariffs Slashed U.S. Exports Last Year, U.K. Deliveries Expected To Increase Within A Decade

Bottles of single malt scotch whisky The Glenlivet, part of the Pernod Ricard group, are pictured in a shop near Lausanne, Switzerland May 18, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo)

Data from the last half of 2018 revealed that U.S. whiskey exports were heavily impacted by tariffs as trade disputes continue to brew across global markets.

According to the Associated Press, the Distilled Spirits Council said whiskey and bourbon exports from the United States had strong sales in overseas markets. However, the group stressed that figures could have been greater if tariffs didn't stop the U.S. whiskey-manufacturing market from progressing further.

The Council's Senior Vice President for International Affairs, Christine LoCascio said, "For the first time, data can demonstrate the negative impact of retaliatory tariffs on what had been a booming export growth story. The tariffs are making it more difficult to be competitive in key markets."

Previously, industry leaders expressed concerns about how tariffs could affect overseas sales. Officials within the industry were reportedly stopped from pointing fingers at U.S. President Donald Trump.

The European Union is currently the U.S. whiskey industry's largest export market. However, figures from 2018 revealed that exports to the eurozone dropped by 8.7 percent from July through November.

During the first half of 2018, American exports to the EU skyrocketed by 33 percent. Global whiskey exports expanded by 28 percent but come the second half of the year, figures dropped by 8.2 percent. LoCascio said of the dip in sales, "That suggests that the tariffs are starting to have a measurable impact on American whiskey exports."

Aside from whiskey, some of the products that were affected by tariffs are brandy, rum, vodka, and rye whiskey. Virginia's Catoctin Creek Distillery said hundreds of rye whiskey cases are still untouched in a European warehouse.

While established and bigger distillers are able to cope with the difficulties but smaller ones are having a hard time. Catoctin Creek Distillery Co-Founder and General Manager, Scott Harris said he believes the company would grow if tariffs were eradicated.

Harris explained that at this point in the market, "it's hard to be optimistic," adding that he is unsure how long the distillery will absorb tariffs that have been costing money on a per-bottle scale.

Meanwhile, it is expected that U.S. whiskey exports to the United Kingdom will double in the next decade. According to The Spirits Business, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association's (WSTA) most recent Market Report revealed that imported whiskey from the U.S. almost reached the $1 billion mark in total sales.

It has been predicted that American whiskey will further gain prominence in Britain and possibly other European states within the next 10 years.

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