When Europe talks tariffs, bourbon country listens - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

When Europe talks tariffs, bourbon country listens

Kentucky produces 95% of the world's bourbon supply, according to estimates from the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Kentucky produces 95% of the world's bourbon supply, according to estimates from the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - President Trump's planned tariffs on imported aluminum and steel could hit Kentuckians very close to home.

The President of the European Commission responded Friday by targeting specific U.S. exports for possible tariffs.

Reuters reported European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "We will put tariffs on Harley-Davidson, on bourbon and on blue jeans - Levi's."

The message was possibly crafted for key figures in Washington.

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Harley Davidson is based in House Speaker Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's home state of Kentucky produces 95% of the world's bourbon supply, according to estimates from the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet.

"All we can do is sit back and see what happens," Dan Gardner, the Four Roses Bourbon Regional Sales Manager, said."There's a lot of saber rattling right now and we just have to see where it all falls out."

An economic study released in 2017 by the Kentucky Distillers' Association stated the Commonwealth exported more than $300 million in bourbon and whiskies.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles spoke of a potential ripple effect if bourbon is hit with new European tariffs.

"Kentucky farmers are producing more corn than ever to support the growing bourbon industry," Quarles said. "Being able to export that to new markets is key to keeping the Kentucky economy vital."

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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer also responded: "Bourbon only has 10% of the market share of scotch. Think about the growth potential of the bourbon industry -- it's unlimited. So President Trump really needs to reconsider what I think is an ill-fated and untimely decision on a trade war. And you can see how the rest of the world is reacting to it."

The Kentucky Distillers' Association released a report in 2017 that identified the top five purchasers of Kentucky whiskies as Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, China and France.

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