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Whisk(e)y World Circles The Wagons Over Mounting Tariff, Trade Concerns

If there was ever a time for the greater whisk(e)y world to show unity, it is now.

In the face of growing concerns in all corners about how escalating tariffs and trade wars might impact production of this popular brown spirit type, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association has put out a call for its brethren from other parts of the globe to meet with them to discuss how to respond as an industry. And from all parts of the globe they shall be represented.

A hogshead cask (left) compared to a bourbon barrel (right) Image courtesy of Speyside Cooperage Kentucky.

The trade group for the Kentucky bourbon industry will host next week (July 25 and July 26) in Louisville, Kentucky what’s being called the “W8 – Spirit of Collaboration Summit.” This historic gathering will draw together the following whisk(e)y trade groups to meet for two days:

  • Distilled Spirits Council
  • Irish Whiskey & Spirits Associations
  • Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Producers Makers Association
  • Kentucky Distillers’ Association
  • Scotch Whisky Association
  • Spirits Canada
  • spiritsEUROPE
  • The President’s Forum

At this gathering representatives from each of these organizations will talk openly with one another in what’s being described as “an open exchange of ideas, strategy and a shared commitment to preserving free and fair trade.” The summit will end with a press conference and ceremonial planting of a white oak tree outside the Frazier History Museum on Whiskey Row, the site of the upcoming Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center.

“The potential for long-term damage is real,” said KDA President Eric Gregory, in a prepared statement. “Now more than ever, our groups need to be communicating directly and, hopefully, speaking with a unified voice.”

The global whiskey industry has been enjoying an unprecedented level of success to the benefit of our legendary producers, consumers, countries and local communities. It’s critical that we maintain this momentum and ensure that world leaders understand the deep economic impact of whiskey and how it will be affected if this unfortunate trade war escalates or continues to extend.”

The threat to the Kentucky bourbon industry is particularly acute the longer these global trade issues go on. Bourbon in this state is noted for being a booming $8.5 billion economic engine that generates as many as 17,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $800 million and also pours $825 million into tax coffers each year. In addition, the industry is in the middle of a $1.2 billion building boom, from innovative new tourism centers to expanded production facilities.

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and provided tasting input on many whiskeys at competitions. He also maintains a large private collection of whiskey from which he continually educates his palate on this brown spirit type.

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