While tariffs have taken their toll on American whiskey, the category is on the mend. We name the brands that are set to do great things in 2022.

With the end of tariffs in sight, 2022 promises a bright future for American whiskey

The American whiskey category has seen some tumultuous years as punitive tariffs weighed on its sales.

In 2018, former US President Donald Trump imposed a tariff of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum from the European Union (EU).

In retaliation, the EU implemented a 25% tariff on US whiskey and other products, amounting to 2.8 billion euros (US $ 3.3 billion) of products.

But in November 2020, distillers received good news when the US and EU struck a new trade deal. This decision means that the tariffs will be removed in January 2022.

Greg Mefford, Director of International Sales at Luxco, producer of American whiskey brands such as Ezra Brooks and Rebel, says: “This is a category defined by optimism. There has been a lot of resilience, growth and innovation, and the future is bright after the EU tariffs end. Lower retail prices that are not inflated by tariffs will encourage sales among existing American whiskey fans, while removing a barrier to entry for those new to the category. This will really help drive growth in the EU – a huge market for the category – as consumers can afford to buy premium bourbons and rye, while volume sales of more standard references will also benefit. of the end of the tariffs.

Meanwhile, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) is calling for an end to “discriminatory” barrel taxes in the state.

It says Kentucky distillers are expected to pay a record US $ 33 million in taxes on aging barrels in 2021. The state would be the only place in the world to tax aging barrels of spirits as part of the production process. . This is hampering growth and compromising Kentucky’s ability to recruit new distillers, the companies say.

But there is still positive growth in the category, despite tariffs and the Covid-19 pandemic. American whiskey volumes increased 7% to 28.4 million cases in 2020, and the value increased 8.2% to $ 4.3 billion, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Craig Johnson, Vice President of Marketing Scotch, American Whiskeys and Tequila at Pernod Ricard USA, said: “American whiskey continues to grow at 1.15 times the market, accounting for 21% of spirits in the United States, with category representing 42% growth (Nielsen 2021) – guiding Pernod Ricard towards its portfolio of super and ultra premium brands to attract a wide variety of consumers.

Johnson notes that the category is “experiencing a renaissance” as consumers discover its quality and versatility. He adds: “A larger consumer base has provided a tremendous opportunity for innovation, which will continue to drive the category. “

Regarding trends in the category, Mefford notes that consumers have become “more interested in age declaration Bourbons, innovative and well-balanced blends and secondary finish.”

In addition, a new rule that will provide a legal definition of American single malt whiskey is expected to be published by the end of this year, according to the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission.

Read on for our pick of the American whiskey brands to watch in 2022.
For more brands to look at, check out our Scotch Whiskey and Vodka selections.

LVMH took a minority stake in the rye whiskey producer at the end of 2019, a transaction that will help strengthen the brand’s presence in the world. The brand also has a lot of innovations in unusual barrel finishes.


Woodford Reserve
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The Bourbon brand owned by Brown-Forman exceeded one million cases in 2019 and continued to grow double digits each quarter. Brown-Forman is also considering expanding the distillery to double production – work is expected to be completed next summer. In addition, it recently increased its advertising spend on Woodford Reserve in the first quarter.


The celebrity-founded Bourbon has had the fastest presales in Reserve Bar history and already has an impressive number of social media followers. In addition, its owners hope to expand into new markets, increase production and introduce new expressions next year.


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