U.S. Spirits Exports Reach Record $2.06 Billion

Total U.S. spirits exports reached a record $2.06 billion in 2022, buoyed by the temporary halt to retaliatory tariffs, but American Whiskey exports to the UK remain lower than pre-tariff levels, according to a new report by the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.

The report found that total 2022 U.S. spirits exports were up 30% to $2.06 billion and American Whiskey exports increased 32% to $1.28 billion over 2021.

“While U.S. 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 show that U.S. exports have rebounded to a record high following the suspension of the tariffs,” said Rob Maron, DISCUS vp-international trade.

“U.S. 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,” said Maron.

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.”

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 United States, to more than 2,600 today from fewer than 100 in 2005 .

The analysis also showed global U.S. spirits exports, driven by American Whiskeys, have nearly quadrupled, from $551 million to $2.06 billion (2002-2022) in the past two decades.

Among the report’s other key findings:

EU is the largest export market for U.S. Spirits.

  • About 34% of U.S. spirits were exported to the EU totaling $703 million, making it the U.S.’s largest export market. Total U.S. spirits exports to the EU saw a 25% increase compared to 2021 and has surpassed its 2017 pre-tariff level of $603 million.
  • The top five markets for U.S. spirits are: 1) European Union ($703 million); 2) Canada ($268 million); 3) United Kingdom ($159 million); 4) Australia ($141 million); and 5) Japan ($113 million).

American Whiskey exports have begun to recover from retaliatory tariffs.

  • Since the EU suspended its 25% retaliatory tariff on American Whiskeys in January 2022, U.S. whiskey exports saw an increase of 32% compared to 2021. Total American Whiskey exports to the EU reached $566 million, accounting for 44% of total American Whiskey exports ($1.3 billion). This surpasses the 2017 pre-tariff level of $518 million.
  • The UK’s suspension of its retaliatory tariff on American Whiskeys went into effect on June 1, 2022. American Whiskey exports to the UK increased by nearly 28% as compared to 2021, reaching $112 million. However, it is still down 25% from the pre-tariff 2017 level of $149 million.

American Whiskeys continued to drive overall U.S. spirits exports in 2022.

  • American Whiskeys accounted for 62% of all spirits exports in value terms, and 23% in volume terms.
  • The top five markets for American Whiskeys in 2022 are: 1) European Union ($566 million); 2) Australia ($117 million); 3) United Kingdom ($112 million); 4) Japan ($102 million) and; 5) Canada ($80 million).

The U.S. continues to export a wide range of distilled spirits from across the country.

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

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

· In 2022, distilled spirits were exported from 44 states. The top 10 states exporting U.S. spirits:

1) Tennessee ($817.8 million); 2) Kentucky ($507.3 million); 3) Florida ($344.6 million); 4) Texas ($249.4 million); 5) Illinois ($114.2 million); 6) Indiana ($89.1 million); 7) Arkansas ($67.3 million); 8) New York ($65.4 million); 9) California ($52.7 million); and 10) New Jersey ($28.1 million).