2023 Was ‘Banner Year’ for U.S. Spirits Exports


February 28, 2024

Spirits exports Barrels._(52254707001) Bernard Spragg. NZ

Good news for the whiskey industry: 2023 was a banner year for American spirits exports, with total U.S. spirits and American Whiskeys topping new records following the lifting of retaliatory tariffs on American Whiskeys, according to an American Spirits Export Report released by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

The report found U.S. spirits exports totaled $2.2 billion in 2023, up 8% compared to last year. American Whiskeys, which account for 63% of all U.S. spirits exports, increased by 9% over 2022 to reach a record $1.4 billion.

“This latest report shows that U.S. exports are continuing to rebuild after plummeting from the devastating retaliatory tariffs on American spirits imposed by the EU and UK,” Rob Maron, DISCUS vice president of international trade, said in making the announcement.

“The tariffs imposed from 2018-2021 as part of two separate disputes between the U.S., EU and UK have since been suspended or removed, presenting U.S. spirits producers with an opportunity to recapture lost market share in some of the U.S.’ largest export markets. Over the span of two years, American Whiskey exports to the EU surged by more than 60%, climbing from $439 million in 2021 to $705 million in 2023.”

In December 2023, the EU announced that it would continue the suspension of tariffs on American Whiskeys in the steel and aluminum dispute for 15 months, until March 31, 2025. If no agreement is reached, the EU will reimpose its tariff on American Whiskeys at 50%, up from the previously imposed 25%.

Maron added, “We urge the Biden administration to continue working to secure the permanent removal of these tariffs. The EU’s 15-month tariff suspension is welcome news, but the uncertainty for the future continues to hold craft distillers back from exporting their spirits.”

The analysis also showed that over the past two decades, global U.S. spirits exports, driven by American Whiskeys, have increased 280%, from $587 million to more than $2.2 billion (2002-2023).

According to the report, the long-term growth of U.S. spirits exports is due to a number of factors, including the range of trade agreements that eliminated import tariffs and opened many foreign markets for distilled spirits; the lifting of retaliatory 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, from fewer than 100 in 2005 to more than 2,600 today.

Among the report’s other key findings:

The EU is the largest export market for U.S. spirits.

-Approximately 40% of U.S. spirits were exported to the EU totaling $883 million, making it the U.S.’ largest export market. Total U.S. spirits exports to the EU grew by 24% compared to 2022.

-The top five markets for U.S. spirits in 2023 were: 1) European Union ($883 million); 2) Canada ($262 million); 3) Mexico ($139 million); 4) Australia ($138 million); and 5) United Kingdom ($129 million).

American Whiskeys continued to drive overall U.S. spirits exports in 2023.

-American Whiskeys accounted for 63% of all spirits exports in value terms and 34% in volume terms.

-The top five markets for American Whiskeys in 2023 were: 1) European Union ($705 million); 2) Australia ($121 million); 3) Japan ($106 million); 4) United Kingdom ($86 million); and 5) Canada ($76 million).

Distilled spirits were exported from 45 states in 2023.

The top 10 states exporting U.S. spirits: 1) Tennessee ($983 million); 2) Kentucky ($505 million); 3) Florida ($338 million); 4) Texas ($180 million); 5) Illinois ($118 million); 6) Indiana ($72 million); 7) California ($65 million); 8) Arkansas ($57 million); 9) New York ($50 million); and 10) Georgia ($27 million).

For more information, visit https://www.distilledspirits.org/.