The US Whiskey Industry Is on the Rocks

By: Anneken Tappe · November 14, 2023 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Distilling the Issue

Whiskey accounts for 62% of all American spirits exports. But trouble is brewing.

The European Union is about to impose a 50% import levy on U.S. whiskey, which could seriously hurt trade. The trade tiff is about more than whiskey, with the two sides of the Atlantic really arguing about steel, and aluminum. But the expected spirit tariffs are part of a retaliatory package.

Export Evolution

America’s whiskey industry is valued at $5.1 billion. With approximately $1.3 billion in exports, the sector has shown remarkable resilience and growth. But the looming tariff threatens to destabilize it.

Previous tariffs, like the 25% levy imposed between 2018 and 2021, shank U.S. whiskey exports by nearly a fifth, even though they bounced back after the tariff was suspended. But this suspension is up at the end of the year, and the tariff would step up.

American whiskey distilleries stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in value if the trade dispute is not resolved soon.

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