Scotch Auction Sites Pause US Shipments Because Of Tariffs - The Whiskey Wash

Scotch Auction Sites Pause US Shipments Because Of Tariffs

By Nino Marchetti / October 22, 2019

The implementation last week of tariffs against a range of European goods by the American government is something the Scotch whisky industry, as we’ve previously covered, is extremely concerned about.

While the fallout of that may be a bit delayed at some retail counters in the United States, a more immediate impact is happening amongst some of the secondary market Scotch whisky auction websites that ship bottles to auction winners from the States. Notification has gone out from at least two major sites in the last few days around temporary suspension of bottle delivery to the US until it can better be understood how the new tariffs will impact the costs associated with importing these bottles.

The first, and certainly one of the largest, is Scotch Whisky Auctions. In a note sent to their email list last week, they posted the following around delay of shipments to the States:

image via Scotch Whisky Auctions

As many of you are aware a new tariff system is about to be implemented on shipments of whisky coming into the USA.

This potentially means that some of our customers may have to pay to receive their whisky under this new scheme.

We do not yet know how much, who this will apply to or how it will be processed despite speaking with Customs in New York.

SWA have been advised to suspend our US shipments for a short period to allow for the transition to take place and the backlog to clear.

Customers in Florida and Texas who have had orders shipped from Tuesday 15th to Thursday 17th are also affected. These orders are being held by Customs and there will be a delay in getting these boxes to you. Unfortunately, this is outwith our control but please be assured your whisky is safe and will move as soon as possible. We have not been told how long they will be held for but it is likely to be for a few weeks.

Most of the orders that have already been despatched should still arrive. If you have received a notification from SWA, please email us for tracking or an update. However, please be aware that from today, the 17th October, we are suspending all US shipments for a short time and if your order is not already despatched, it will be held for now.

We can appreciate that the lack of information is frustrating, it is to us too. Our team will do our very best to answer your questions and once the Tariff has been finalised and we know more, we will update you all again and get your whisky moving.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

And just today fellow auction site Whisky Hammer joined them, saying in a note that

As you will no doubt be aware, earlier this week a new set of trade tariffs were imposed on various EU products being imported into the USA, including whisky (see CIBC article here).

As a result of this, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspended all shipments to the USA until we re-assess the situation on Monday 4th of November

This is to allow time to receive further clarity on the tariff rate, and the amount (if any) that will be charged to our customers.  USA customs are very unclear on these crucial pieces of information at this stage.

We appreciate this may be frustrating for some customers (as it is for us) but please note that we are making this decision in the best interests of our USA customers and to ensure that the tariff implications are fully, clearly understood.

At the extreme level, we understand a trade tariff of 25% of the value of the shipment would be payable to get whisky into the USA – however we want to allow time to ensure that our customers are not being forced to pay a higher tariff than they necessarily should be.

We will re-assess this situation on Monday 4th November and provide a further update at that time.

For any USA customers with bottles currently in storage with us, we will be fully flexible in allowing the usual 4 month free storage period to be extended as necessary in order to resolve the situation.

At this time it might be wise, if you are involved in bidding on one of these sites out of the United Kingdom or somewhere else in Europe, to check in with their customer service teams around how they are addressing the tariff issue.