US spirits exports reach $2.06bn

A new report by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) has revealed that total US spirits exports reached a record $2.06bn in 2022, buoyed by the temporary halt to retaliatory tariffs, with American whiskey exports to the UK remaining lower than pre-tariff levels.

The report found that total 2022 US spirits exports were up 30% and American whiskey exports increased 32% to $1.28bn over 2021. 

Rob Maron, DISCUS vice president of international trade, said: “While US spirits exports tumbled between 2018 and 2021, due largely to retaliatory tariffs on American spirits imposed by the EU and UK, the latest export data shows that US exports have rebounded to a record high following the suspension of the tariffs.

“US spirits producers have begun to recapture lost market share in the EU, but American whiskey exports to the UK still lag behind the 2017 pre-tariff level, and the threat of tariffs returning continues to stifle growth in these top markets,” added Maron. 

According to the report, a number of factors contributed to the record exports in 2022, including the lifting of the tariffs; the shift by consumers in key exports markets towards premium and super premium American spirits; the continued reopening of the global hospitality sector; and an increase in distilleries in the US, from fewer than 100 in 2005 to more than 2,600 today.

Maron added: “We urge the Biden administration to secure the permanent removal of these tariffs. If an agreement on steel and aluminum is not reached with the EU before the end of 2023, the EU will reimpose its retaliatory tariff at 50% on American whiskeys. That will bring this renewed interest in American whiskey among EU consumers to a screeching halt.”

The analysis also showed global US spirits exports, driven by American whiskeys, have nearly quadrupled, from $551m to $2.06bn (2002-2022) in the past two decades.

The report found that approximately 34% of US spirits were exported to the EU totaling $703m, making it the US’s largest export market. Total US spirits exports to the EU saw a 25% increase compared to 2021 and has surpassed its 2017 pre-tariff level of $603m.

It also revealed the top five markets for US spirits, which are: EU ($703m), Canada ($268m), UK ($159m), Australia ($141m) and Japan ($113m).

Some of the growth in American spirits exports is also attributed to the strong performance of the American rum, brandy, gin, vodka, and liqueur and cordials categories.

Compared to 2021, US exports of rum increased by 16% to $109m; vodka increased by 57% to $123m; brandy increased by 22% to $18m; gin increased by 26% to $51m; and liqueurs and cordials increased by 44% reaching $149m in 2022.