The WTO approved a set of tariffs that the US can levy against the EU recently in retaliation for subsidies from EU governments to Airbus Industrie. These tariffs will now affect me personally, and I am displeased:
[W]ith the Oct. 31 deadline for Brexit fast approaching, the Trump administration imposed 25 percent tariffs on a menu of goods including French wine, Italian cheese and — in a move that could drive a Scotsman to drink — single malt whisky.
Whisky underpins the economy of Islay and much of Scotland. Kilchoman and eight rival Scotch whisky distilleries have flourished here in the past decade. Tourists from the United States, Europe and Japan come to wonder at Islay’s coastal beauty, take pictures of hillsides filled with sheep and hairy Highland cattle that look as if they’ve had vigorous blow dries, and soak up the pricey local spirits.
Annual exports of Scotch whisky are worth £4.7 billion, or about $5.9 billion, accounting for 70 percent of Scotland’s food and drink exports and 21 percent of Britain’s.
Karen Betts, the chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said the Trump administration’s decision to apply tariffs only to single malts was likely to hit smaller producers harder.
By "smaller producers" they mean some of the best in Scotland, including Kilchoman on Islay. And even if Brexit happens in two weeks, the tariffs may stay in place.
A few good reads today:
Haven't decided what to eat for lunch yet...
The Show-Me State recently passed a law creating the specifications for Missouri Bourbon:
According to House Bill 266, signed on Thursday, July 11, any whiskey labeled as Missouri bourbon must not only meet the federal standards for bourbon, but also be mashed, fermented, distilled, aged and bottled in the state; aged in oak barrels manufactured in the state; and—beginning January 1, 2020—made with corn exclusively grown in the state. The law goes into effect on August 28.
The Missouri Craft Distillers Guild, which formed in 2018 and now has 35 members, pushed the measure heavily. “The whole point of the bill was to tie agriculture and tourism together in Missouri,” says Don Gosen, owner of Copper Mule Distillery and a member of the Guild. “Being able to make a high-class bourbon and make it truly a Missouri product—not just made in Missouri, but made from Missouri raw materials.” The bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Jeff Porter of Montgomery City and signed by Gov. Mike Parson, was originally authored by Gosen with later modifications and input provided by the Craft Distillers Guild and other stakeholders.
Well, OK, when the first examples come out in a couple of years, I'll try it.
Just a few things in the news:
And hey, summer begins in three days.
Brewpubs, but at distilleries and serving their own spirits, may be coming to Illinois:
Legislation approved Thursday by the Illinois House would license craft distillers similar to the way craft brewers are regulated, with the aim of giving a boost to the burgeoning community of artisan spirits makers in the state.
The bill, which still faces a vote in the Senate, would create a license that allows small distillers to self-distribute some product, removing a major hurdle for unknown brands trying get on store shelves, and another license that allows distillers to open up to three satellite locations where they can serve their house-made spirits as well as other alcohol in a pub environment.
The changes would allow craft distillers to build brand awareness and new revenue streams, helping them grow and encouraging new distillers to set up shop in the state, said Noelle DiPrizio, who co-owns Chicago Distilling in Logan Square.
FEW Spirits already has something like this in the form of a tasting room. But this would be a much more all-encompassing experience. I'm looking forward to it.
I'm traveling this weekend, starting with a night about a block from my office. Tonight is WhiskyFest Chicago, starting in about 90 minutes (though they let us start gorging on cheese and crackers at 5pm). For easily-understood reasons, I'm staying at the same hotel tonight, then heading to my college radio station's 60th anniversary party tomorrow morning. Not my first choice of timing, but I had no control over either event.
Sunday I head into Manhattan, and coincidentally the Yankees are in town...
The view from my room today fails to suck:
Just a quick post of articles I want to load up on my Surface at O'Hare:
Off to take Parker to boarding. Thence the Land of UK.
Craft distillers in the U.S., like home-town FEW Spirits, are getting creamed by the European Union's retaliatory tariffs:
Following the European Union's June implementation of a 25 percent tariff on bourbon, the popular U.S. whiskey variety, the impact has been clear. One American producer said his exports have "dropped to zero" as a result. Last year, they made up 15 percent of revenue.
"Every U.K. buyer backed off," said Paul Hletko, the owner of Evanston-based Few Spirits. "They may want to buy it, but if they can't sell it at the right price, that's not doing us any favors."
Small distillers cite the drought as proof their fears of a global trade war are coming to fruition. Europe had been blossoming as a source of new revenue — but this market has been effectively cut off for producers that lack the clout or brand recognition of titans like Brown-Forman and Diageo. Now they've been sent back to square one.
Remember: we didn't want these tariffs, we didn't need the tariffs that prompted them, and we are all (European and American alike) suffering because of them. So why did the president start this fight? Does he even know?
While trying to debug an ancient application that has been the undoing of just about everyone on my team, I've put these articles aside for later:
Back to the mouldering pile of fetid dingo kidneys that is this application...
Chances are, that bourbon you're drinking came from an industrial distillery in southern Indiana:
In just the last 10 years, the number of craft distilleries in this country has ballooned from around 100 to more than 1,400. That growth is a product of consumer demand, but it’s also due to the easing of state distillation laws and the availability of sourced whiskey from suppliers like MGP in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
Templeton Rye — marketed as Al Capone’s favorite whiskey and proud product of Templeton, Iowa — is also distilled by MGP. Tincup Whiskey, a self-described “mountain whiskey” replete with commercials conjuring a frontiersman image and Rocky Mountain ethos, is mostly MGP, too.
Those brands aren’t alone in their Indiana provenance. Even super-premium brands like High West and Whistle Pig have sourced from MGP at some point in their respective histories. And the list goes on.
MGP isn’t a household name in bourbon, but it’s well known among industry insiders and connoisseurs. With distilling operations headquartered in the old Seagram’s Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, MGP is one of the largest whiskey sourcers in the industry.
So why do so few people know MGP’s name?
For one, it maintains strict confidentiality agreements with all of its customers; the purchasing brand only has to reveal MGP as its source if it wants to — an option many decline.
In addition, labeling regulations only require that the bottler list in which state the liquid was distilled — easily done in tiny print on the back of the bottle.
This is why I've got Trader Joe's $15 "Kentucky Bourbon" at home instead of $60 Whistle Pig. It's the same whiskey.
Single-malt Scotch, on the other hand, is by UK law exactly what it says on the bottle.