bourbon

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour has lost one of its attractions with the closure of a Bowling Green distillery. 

Corsair Distillery closed its doors on Friday, laying off six employees.  Founded in Bowling Green in 2008, the small-batch distilling company became a stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour and exposed the city to visitors from around the world. 

Becca Schimmel

Anti-tariff talk will be flowing as leading whiskey associations meet in Kentucky Thursday to discuss how trade disputes could hurt their industry.

The Kentucky Distillers' Association says leaders of eight whiskey groups worldwide are meeting in Louisville. The whiskey summit comes as industry officials worry that trade tensions could escalate — with their products caught in the crosshairs.

J. Tyler Franklin

This week in Kentucky politics, Rand Paul was one of the few politicians to defend Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration restored vision and dental benefits to almost 400,000 people on Medicaid after taking them away earlier this month. And Kentucky’s bourbon industry ramped up its warnings about how a trade war would impact the state’s signature industry. 


Kevin Willis

The head of Kentucky’s bourbon association says he’s worried that a drawn-out trade war could slow down growth of the state’s signature distilling industry.

Kentucky bourbon is in the crosshairs of retaliatory tariffs from the European Union, Mexico and Canada after President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from those countries.

Kentucky Distillers Association President Eric Gregory said distillers are worried that if the dispute escalates, it’ll offset some of the industry’s massive growth over the past decade.

U.S. whiskey distillers are fretting over the steep new tariffs they're facing around the world. They're being punished as U.S. trading partners retaliate against the Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminum. Now, the distillers fear that a long boom in U.S. whiskey exports could be coming to an end.

Kentucky bourbon has experienced a huge revival over the past decade — thanks in large part to U.S. trade initiatives that have opened up global markets, says Eric Gregory of the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

More than $3 billion worth of U.S. goods — from bourbon and corn to Harley-Davidson motorcycles — are now subject to a 25 percent tariff in the European Union, in retaliation for the Trump administration's tariffs that hit the EU, Mexico and Canada this month.

"The trade that we believe in is built on rules, trust and reliable partnership," Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU Commission, said in a speech in Dublin on Thursday night. "The United States' decision to impose tariffs on Europe goes against that. In fact, it goes against all logic and history."

Kentucky Governor Downplays Effect of EU Tariffs on Bourbon

Jun 22, 2018
J. Tyler Franklin

In comments at odds with his home state's whiskey distillers, Kentucky's Republican governor is downplaying fears that the European Union's retaliatory tariffs could disrupt the booming market for the Bluegrass state's iconic bourbon industry.

"There's always the potential for some type of impact, but I don't think it will be a tremendous impact," Gov. Matt Bevin said when asked about tariffs during a TV interview this week with Bloomberg.

Tariffs Stir Unrest Among American Whiskey Producers

Jun 21, 2018
Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Much of the rye whiskey aging in hundreds of barrels at Catoctin Creek Distillery in Virginia could end up being consumed in Europe, a market the 9-year-old distilling company has cultivated at considerable cost.

 

But an escalating trade dispute has the distillery's co-founder and general manager, Scott Harris, worried those European sales could evaporate as tariffs drive up the price of his whiskey in markets where consumers have plenty of spirits to choose from.

 

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Kentucky distillers, wineries and liquor retailers can now ship wine and spirits across state lines after the legislature passed the “bourbon without borders” bill earlier this year.

The new law will allow visitors to Kentucky to ship up to 4.5 liters of spirits or 4 cases of wine back home — as long as their home state allows it.

During a ceremonial bill signing on Friday, Gov. Matt Bevin said the new law will help build the state’s signature bourbon industry.

Angel's Envy

The Kentucky whiskey distiller Angel’s Envy is planting more than 12,000 trees in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The move is part of the company’s sustainability program.

In September of last year Angel’s Envy fans shared photos on social media with #AE4THETREES. The company counted more than 12,000 photos and posts with the hashtag, so they’re planting a tree for almost every post. Kyle Henderson is the production manager at the Louisville-based Angel’s Envy. He said it means a lot to him to be part of the sustainability effort.

Becca Schimmel

Bottles of bourbon make their way through the assembly line at Maker’s Mark, one of ten distilleries on the Kentucky bourbon trail. They’re cleaned, filled, capped and then dipped in the company’s signature red wax, a tradition that started with the wife of the distillery’s founder, Bill Samuels.

"She took red sealing wax, she put it in her family's deep fryer right there in the kitchen, dipped the first bottle of Maker’s Mark right there in her kitchen,” a tour guide explained. “She brought it out to Bill Samuels Sr. as he was sitting there in the kitchen and he hated it. Well, you see who won."


J. Tyler Frankin

Gov. Matt Bevin was non-committal when asked what he thinks of President Donald Trump’s proposal to institute tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum.

The policy could benefit Kentucky aluminum manufacturers like Braidy Industries — the company that Bevin helped attract to the state with a package of economic incentives — and Century Aluminum, which announced it would hire 300 new workers in Hancock County if the tariff went into effect.

If the Trump administration starts a trade war, Kentucky bourbon may get caught in the crossfire.

The administration is weighing strict new limits on imported steel and aluminum in hopes of shoring up homegrown metal industries. But European allies are warning of possible retaliation, including tariffs aimed at politically sensitive products such as bourbon and orange juice.

"That's what a lot of countries will look to do," said Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council. "Something that will get the Trump administration's attention."

Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries continue to gain popularity as a tourist destination.

A statement from the Kentucky Distillers’ Association says nearly 1.2 million people visited the 23 members of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Bourbon Trail Craft tour last year.

The number of visitors has grown by 314 percent over the past ten years.

We'll give it to you straight: If President Trump slaps a tariff on steel, the U.S. bourbon industry might be left reeling.

Trump has long vowed to impose tariffs on some imports, and his administration has recently focused on the steel industry. A blanket tariff on steel wouldn't just hurt China, the frequent target of Trump's trademark trade tirades. It would also deal a blow to allies such as Germany.

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