• Kentucky bourbon was taking the world by storm with exports soaring by 28%
  • But then, in the middle of last year, came President Donald Trump's trade wars, seeing exports slump by 11% 
  • The county produces 90%of the world's bourbon and ironically, is a "dry" county, meaning they aren't allowed to sell any liquor.
  • For more stories go to Business Insider South Africa. 


After soaring 28% in the first 6 months of 2018, Kentucky bourbon was taking the world by storm. The American spirit, made with corn and the region's sought after limestone water, was starting to take traction internationally.

But then, in the middle of last year, came President Donald Trump's trade wars.

To retaliate for stinging new US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, Mexico, Canada, China and the European Union slapped import duties on American whiskies, causing soaring export growth to crash.

After soaring 28% in the first 6 months of 2018, whiskey exports fell 11% in the second half, a period including Christmas and New Year's, when demand for liquor typically rises, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, reported AFP.

Over the last 16 years, the growth led to a tripling of distilling establishments in Kentucky, with a 55% growth in employment, and a 176% growth in wages and salaries, according to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association

Bourbon is a R123 billion signature industry generating some 20,100 jobs. The county produces 90% of the world's bourbon, and, ironically, is a "dry" county meaning they aren't allowed to sell any liquor.

AFP reports it was no coincidence that US trade partners targeted US whiskies, and bourbon in particular. Kentucky happens to be home to Mitch McConnell, the powerful Republican leader in the US Senate, and is a deep red state which Trump carried easily in the 2016 presidential elections.

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