Bevin downplays EU tariff impact on bourbon

Bevin believes bourbon boom will survive EU tariffs

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Gov. Matt Bevin called the recommended 25% European Union tariff on Kentucky bourbon a "money grab."

Thursday on CNBC, Bevin downplayed any potential impact on the state's most celebrated export.

"Europeans are still going to drink more bourbon this year than they did last year," Bevin said. "They're just going to pay more for it because their government is going to take some of it."

The comment was similar to remarks on Bloomberg on Wednesday when Bevin said, "I don't think it (EU tariff) will be a tremendous impact. The bourbon industry is about an eight and a half billion dollar industry right now."

The message is in contrast to the more serious tone from members of congress, and from the bourbon industry itself.

The Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA) warned of "a significant impact on Bourbon investment, employment and economic growth throughout the Commonwealth."

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The industry group warned of the possibility of harm to "farm families, cooperages, glass and other suppliers, hospitality and tourism partners."

Bestselling Bourbon author Fred Minnick warned of tariff repercussions in a New York Times Op Ed in 2017 titled, "Will Trump Kill the Bourbon Boom?"

On Thursday, Minnick said Bevin is sending the wrong message.

"It was an appalling comment," Minnick said. "He's so wrong because this can really hurt bourbon."

The KDA reported 2017 saw Kentucky exports of distilled spirits topping a record $450 million. Of that, $200 million went to the European Union, one of bourbon's biggest growth markets.

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