Each week, we bring you the latest whisky news on WhiskyCast, but a lot can happen during the week. Now, you can keep up with whisky news as it happens here on WhiskyCast.com!

Westward American Single Malt Joins Diageo’s Distill Ventures Portfolio

September 12, 2018 – Diageo’s Distill Ventures unit has made its first investment in the North American whiskey market with a minority stake in Westward American Single Malt Whiskey. Westward is distilled by Portland, Oregon-based House Spirits Distillery, and the current House Spirits management team led by CEO Tom Mooney and founder Christian Krogstad will continue to own the majority of Westward and oversee day-to-day operations.

“We certainly weren’t looking for another investor in a generic sense,” Mooney said in a telephone interview following the announcement. “Years ago, we set out on the journey to establish the leading American Single Malt program and brand in Westward, and we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished up to now,” he said. Westward is distributed by Redwood Brands, another Distill Ventures partner, while Park Street handles distribution for the remainder of the House Spirits portfolio. That portfolio includes Volstead Vodka, Casa Magdalena Rum, and Krogstad Aquavit, and will remain separate from the Distill Ventures/Westward partnership.

“In Diageo, we found somebody who is the world’s leading malt whisky producer … they’re also, somewhat unusually  in the spirits world, one of the leading brewers in the world,” Mooney said. “We’re very committed to the beer program that is the basis for Westward and the quality of the beer that we make to distill into whiskey.”

Distill Ventures is Diageo’s in-house venture capital unit, investing more than $75 million in emerging drinks brands so far. The unit owns minority stakes in Denmark’s Stauning and Australia’s Starward whisky brands, along with the Seedlip non-alcohol distilled spirits brand.

Our team is deeply committed to working with strong founders like Westward’s Thomas Mooney and Christian Krogstad, who deliver on innovation and excel at brand building.  Westward American Single Malt whiskey is an unparalleled spirit that perfectly delivers on the vision of placing a US brand amongst the world’s most coveted single malts,” Distill Ventures North America managing director Gonzalo de la Pezuela said in a statement announcing the deal. 

According to Mooney, the Distill Ventures investment will allow Westward to complete its capital investment plan. That plan began with the construction of the current distillery in Portland’s “Distillery Row” neighborhood, which opened in 2015. The next step will be to add fermenters in the distillery with the goal of increasing production capacity by around 40 percent annually.

The announcement is the second in the past week involving a major spirits industry teaming up with a smaller US distiller. Last Thursday, Edrington announced a similar minority investment in Wyoming Whiskey that will bring the Kirby, Wyoming distillery’s whiskies into the Edrington Americas distribution network.

Listen to our midweek episode of WhiskyCast for our interview with Westward’s Tom Mooney. You can also listen to our recent tour of the House Spirits Distillery with head distiller Miles Munroe in Episode 719 of WhiskyCast.

Links: Westward | Distill Ventures

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Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2018

September 11, 2018 – Three new members have been named to the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, while an industry leader will be honored with the award named for one of his closest friends and colleagues. The Class of 2018 was announced today ahead of this Friday’s induction luncheon to be held at the Frazier History Museum in Louisville. Buffalo Trace VIP Visitor Lead Freddie Johnson, Alltech founder Dr. Pearse Lyons, and Beam Suntory Chairman & CEO Matt Shattock will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame Class of 2018 (L-R): Freddie Johnson, Dr. Pearse Lyons, and Matt Shattock. Photos courtesy Buffalo Trace, Alltech, and Beam Suntory.

The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame Class of 2018 (L-R): Freddie Johnson, Dr. Pearse Lyons, and Matt Shattock.

Freddie Johnson has become popular with Bourbon lovers for his unique style of leading tours at the distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, where he follows in the footsteps of his father and grandfather – both of whom spent their careers at what’s now known as Buffalo Trace.

Dr. Lyons, who passed away in March, was the founder and chairman of Alltech, the Kentucky-based agricultural food and science company that produces enzymes and yeast for the distilling industry. Dr. Lyons took his  family’s company into distilling with the Town Branch Distillery in Lexington, while also building the Pearse Lyons Distillery in his native Ireland. His final project was the new Dueling Barrels Distillery in Pikesville, Kentucky, which opened in June.

Shattock led Beam through its 2011 spinoff from Fortune Brands into a standalone company, followed by the 2014 acquisition by Suntory Holdings for $16 billion. After the acquisition, he became Chairman and CEO of Beam Suntory with responsibility for all of the company’s global spirits businesses.

Heaven Hill President Max Shapira. Photo ©2016, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.

Heaven Hill President Max Shapira.

Heaven Hill President Max Shapira will be the fourth recipient of the Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award, named for Heaven Hill’s longtime Master Distiller Parker Beam. Beam was the first recipient of the award in 2015, a little more than a year before he died following a long battle with ALS. Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell was the second recipient in 2016, and Bill Samuels Jr. of Maker’s Mark received the award last year.

“Each, in their own way, has forever transformed our signature spirit, “Kentucky Distillers Association president Eric Gregory said in a statement announcing the Class of 2018. “We are eternally grateful for their remarkable achievements, dedication and commitment to our timeless craft, and for that we offer our heartfelt thanks.”

The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame was founded in 2001, and is a joint venture between the Kentucky Distillers Association and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Inductees are nominated each year by KDA member distilleries and the Bourbon Festival’s board, and the KDA’s board of directors makes the final selections. Each honoree receives a miniature still, and the Frazier History Museum’s new permanent exhibit on the history of Kentucky Bourbon has a display honoring all of the Hall of Fame members.

Tickets are still available through the Kentucky Bourbon Festival’s web site for the induction luncheon Friday at the museum.

Links: Kentucky Distillers Association | Kentucky Bourbon Festival

 

 

 

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Four Roses Distillery Workers Strike On Eve of Kentucky Bourbon Festival

September 8, 2018 – Just as thousands of Bourbon lovers descend on Kentucky for the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival this coming week, workers at one of the Commonwealth’s iconic whiskey distilleries have gone on strike. 53 workers at the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg and the Four Roses maturation and bottling campus in Cox’s Creek walked off the job Friday afternoon after rejecting the company’s final contract offer.

The workers are represented by two locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers and the SEIU National Conference of Firemen & Oilers. UFCW Local 10D represents operations and maintenance workers in Lawrenceburg, while Local 23D represents operations and maintenance workers at the Cox’s Creek site near Bardstown. The SEIU/NCFO represents five Lawrenceburg workers who operate the distillery’s boiler and water treatment systems. According to Local 10D President Jeff Royalty, 51 of the 53 workers voted to reject the contract offer and go on strike immediately.

“I will be the first to say we made some headway…we found some common ground on a lot of issues, but as I tell people, we got real close but just not quite there,” Royalty told WhiskyCast in a telephone interview from the picket line in Lawrenceburg Saturday. Royalty emphasized that the dispute was not over wages, but centered on the desire of Four Roses owner Kirin Holdings to implement a two-tier benefit structure for new employees with changes to  sick leave and seniority rights. Royalty said the benefit changes would affect policies that have been part of the contract for the last 30 years, and rejected the “two-tier” structure out of hand. The dispute is also the subject of a union complaint to the National Labor Relations Board filed August 24.

The Four Roses shop at on the Spalding Hall lawn during the 2012 Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky. File photo ©2018, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.

Four Roses is one of the distilleries that traditionally has an exhibit and gift shop at the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown. 

Four Roses Chief Operating Officer and Director of Distillery Operations Ryan Ashley declined to comment on the strike, but in an email to WhiskyCast, said “we certainly aim to resolve this amicably and swiftly.” The strike will not affect production at the Kirin Holdings-owned distillery, which has been idled temporarily while a $55 million expansion project is in its final stages. Work on that project is expected to continue despite the labor action. In addition, bottling operations will continue at Cox’s Creek, where the bottling hall staff is not unionized.

Four Roses is scheduled to host its annual “Let’s Talk Bourbon” event with Master Distiller Brent Elliott this Friday at the distillery in Lawrenceburg as part of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Tickets for that event sold out almost as soon as they went on sale. In addition, the Four Roses 130th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon is scheduled to go on sale Saturday in the distillery’s shops at both facilities. Four Roses also takes part in many of the Bourbon Festival’s other showcase events during the Festival, and union members make up the distillery’s team in the festival’s World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay. It is not known whether Four Roses will field a team if the strike lasts through Saturday’s event.

In his email, Ashley said the strike will not affect the distillery’s plans for the coming week.

“We will forge on and entertain like any other year. While it’s unfortunate that our employees are striking (particularly this week) we will absolutely welcome all guests and continue to provide the same top notch experience.”

The employees that staff the visitors center in Lawrenceburg and shop in Cox’s Creek are not represented by unions, and both facilities will remain open during the strike.

The UFCW’s Royalty denied any timing between the strike vote and the start of the Bourbon Festival, but admits it “blows his mind” that management “wasn’t willing to work this out with me.” ”

“For all 53 of us, nothing would make us any more happy than to get our beautiful facility which we just spent $55 million dollars on up and running and show it off to people, show ’em the proud nature of what we do, and it kind of amazes me that they’re not at least willing to sit down and work with me on this,” Royalty said. He pledged that if the strike continues through the official start of Bourbon Festival events on Wednesday, union members will make their voices heard – but he also has his negotiating team ready to meet on an hour’s notice if the company wants to talk.

Listen to Mark Gillespie’s interview with UFCW Local 10D President Jeff Royalty:

 

“Whatever direction that this ends up going in…if we’re on strike, you will see the UFCW in full force handing out handbills, doing things of that nature. On the flip side of that, I hope we’re back up and running, and you’ll see the UFCW out there supporting our distillery and all of the distilleries around…so we’ll be there either way.”

The strike is the first against a Kentucky distillery since UFCW members walked off the job at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont in October of 2016. The week-long strike ended when union members accepted a new contract that included wage increases and limits on overtime.

This story will be updated with additional information as necessary.

Editor’s note: This story was edited to remove mention of a two-tier wage structure for new employees. The company indicated on September 17  that their last contract offer only proposed benefits changes for new hires. 

Links: Four Roses | United Food & Commercial Workers | National Conference of Firemen & Oilers | Kentucky Bourbon Festival

 

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Wyoming Whiskey Joins Forces With Edrington

September 7, 2018 – In the nearly six years since the first bottle of Wyoming Whiskey went on sale December 1, 2012, the wheated Bourbon from the tiny town of Kirby, Wyoming won widespread acclaim well beyond the state’s borders. In the end, the family-owned distillery faced the same problems as many other small-scale distillers – turning that acclaim into space on retail shelves. Like a number of their counterparts in the whiskey industry, the founders have now decided that entering into a “strategic partnership” with a larger player in the business is the most logical option for their distillery’s future.

Scotland-based Edrington has acquired a minority stake in Wyoming Whiskey from founders Brad Mead, Kate Mead, and David DeFazio for an undisclosed amount. While the founders will retain control of the distillery, their whiskey will become the first Bourbon in Edrington’s portfolio, which also includes The Macallan, Highland Park, and The Glenrothes single malts, The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark blended Scotches, and Brugal Rum. Edrington Americas, the company’s North American unit, will take over sales, distribution and marketing for Wyoming Whiskey.

Wyoming Whiskey head distiller Sam Mead. Photo ©2018, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.

Wyoming Whiskey head distiller Sam Mead.

“They’re really great people with the same value set we have of giving back to society over the long term, and that’s where the discussion began,” said Edrington Americas President & CEO Chris Spalding in a telephone interview. “As we progressed, understanding their liquid and the direction it was going and the quality of the product they were starting to put out, we were just like a match made in heaven at that point,” he said. While Sam Mead will remain head distiller and Nancy Fraley the distillery’s chief blending consultant, they will be able to draw on Edrington’s distilling and blending expertise in addition to the company’s extensive distribution network.

“That has been the greatest challenge that we have faced in the last few years, trying to get our product distributed in an effective and efficient manner,” said David DeFazio, who will continue to serve as the company’s chief operating officer based in Jackson, Wyoming. “It is what it is…big brands command more attention because of what they bring to the table, and we have not been able to do that. With Edrington, and being aligned with their family of whiskies, rum, tequila, and vodka, we can now command more attention from distributors, and we’re thrilled with that,” he said in a telephone interview.

The partnership also has an added bonus for both sides. Edrington will now get access to most of Wyoming Whiskey’s used barrels, while DeFazio says the distillery will continue to supply barrels to a number of local craft brewers for use in aging their beers. The Wyoming team will also get access to Edrington’s inventory of ex-Sherry casks, allowing Mead and Fraley to experiment with finishing their whiskies in those casks.

While the initial focus will be to expand Wyoming Whiskey distribution to all 50 states, DeFazio sees the potential for worldwide distribution through Edrington’s global network in the future. “That could be in a couple of years, it could be beyond that…we need to make sure that we have enough product to adequately supply the markets that we will be in first,” he said.

The deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions and strategic partnerships involving small-scale US distillers over the last three years. Bacardi acquired Angel’s Envy Bourbon in 2015, while 2016 saw deals including High West’s acquisition by Constellation Brands along with a minority stake in Catoctin Creek Distillery, Rémy Cointreau’s purchase of Westland Whiskey, and the sale of West Virginia’s Smooth Ambler Distillery to Pernod Ricard. 2017 saw Woodinville Whiskey’s acquisition by Möet Hennessy, along with the sale of Tuthilltown Spirits to William Grant & Sons.

Listen to the next episode of WhiskyCast for our interviews with David DeFazio and Chris Spalding.

Links: Wyoming Whiskey | Edrington

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Heaven Hill Challenges Heaven’s Door in Court Over Trademark Infringement

August 22, 2018 – Forget all the puns about “knock, knock, knockin’ on the courthouse door” and other Bob Dylan-related jokes about a legal “shelter from the storm.” Dylan and his partners in Heaven’s Door Spirits are facing a trademark infringement lawsuit from Heaven Hill Distilleries over the branding of their Heaven’s Door whiskies that went on sale in May. The lawsuit filed last Friday in U.S. District Court in Louisville asks for a preliminary injunction barring the distribution or sale of Heaven’s Door whiskies until the lawsuit is resolved, based on Heaven Hill’s claim that the new brand is creating consumer confusion with its Heaven Hill whiskies.

Heaven's Door co-founder Bob Dylan. Photo by John Shearer courtesy Heaven's Door Spirits.

Heaven’s Door co-founder Bob Dylan. Photo by John Shearer courtesy Heaven’s Door Spirits.

Heaven’s Door Spirits is a partnership between the legendary singer-songwriter and entrepreneur Marc Bushala, who was one of the founders of Angel’s Envy Bourbon along with longtime master distiller Lincoln Henderson. The brand was sold to Bacardi for around $150 million in 2015, and Bushala has been building up stocks of aged whiskies since then with plans to launch a new whisky brand – which he did with Dylan and Heaven’s Door.

While Heaven Hill spokesmen declined to comment on pending litigation, Heaven’s Door Spirits issued this statement Monday evening.

“Heaven’s Door Spirits, LLC has developed an award winning collection of handcrafted, American whiskies developed in partnership with legendary singer, songwriter and visual artist, Bob Dylan.  Each bottle of “HEAVEN’S DOOR” not only references the world famous song,“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, written by Nobel Prize laureate Bob Dylan, but also showcases images of his unique iron metalworks designed and made by Mr. Dylan. The Company’s trademark applications were examined and approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the “Heaven’s Door” name and stylized versions of its name. Heaven’s Door Spirits, LLC has recently been named in a complaint alleging trademark infringement, trade name infringement and unfair competition by Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., which is believed to be the owner of the “HEAVEN HILL” trademark.  Heaven’s Door Spirits, LLC finds the allegations to be completely without merit and intends to vigorously defend itself and its HEAVEN’S DOOR brand.”

However, Bushala addressed the potential for a trademark dispute with Heaven Hill in a telephone interview with WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie on May 4. That portion of the interview was edited out of the May 6 episode of WhiskyCast for time constraints, but Bushala maintained there would be no infringement.

“There are other products in the alcohol beverage space that use the word ‘heaven” – it’s not something that one can trademark, so it’s a bit of a stretch to say that any company can own that mark,” Bushala said.

Listen to an excerpt of the May 4 interview with Marc Bushala:

 

According to the lawsuit, Heaven Hill sent a “cease and desist” letter to Bushala’s company in April threatening legal action, but Heaven’s Door Spirits responded by saying it had no plans to change the branding.

No date has been set for a hearing in the case. In civil cases filed in U.S. federal courts, defendants generally have 21 days to respond to the initial filing of a lawsuit by a plaintiff. In addition, Heaven’s Door has 21 days to respond to the motion for a preliminary injunction.

This story will be updated with additional information as necessary.

The Heaven Hill complaint is available to download from our web site. As with all civil lawsuits, please remember that court filings only tell one side’s version of a case, and should not be considered proven until litigated at trial.

Editor’s note: Heaven Hill Distillery is a sponsor of WhiskyCast, but our editorial policydictates that sponsors have no influence or control over editorial content. This story has been updated to include a link to the Heaven Hill lawsuit as filed with the U.S. District Court in Louisville and also correct the time period defendants have to respond to an initial filing.

Links: Heaven Hill| Heaven’s Door Spirits

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Cleaning Up Thousands of Bourbon Barrels at Barton 1792 Distillery

On June 22, 2018, half of Warehouse 30 collapsed at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, spilling around 9,000 barrels of whiskey. The rest of the warehouse collapsed on July 4 with another 9,000 barrels. Crews have been working since then to recover as many barrels – and as much Bourbon – as possible. The site is closed to reporters, but Sazerac has released a video and new images showing cleanup work at the warehouse site.

Links: Barton 1792 Distillery | Sazerac

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“W9” Stress Unity At First “Whisky Summit” in Louisville

July 26, 2018 – To show their unity, leaders of the nine major whisky trade organizations planted an American White Oak tree on the corner of 9th and Main Street outside the Frazier History Museum in downtown Louisville following their first-ever summit meeting. Even before the first shovel of dirt was turned, observers noted that the raised brick-lined bed had routinely been damaged by vehicles using 9th Street to merge onto Interstate 64 and wondered how long the tree would last before being wiped out by a recklessly driven truck.

It’s an apt metaphor for the state of the whisky industry weeks into a global trade dispute pitting the United States against many of its most important global trading partners, many of whom have imposed punitive tariffs on imports of American-made whiskies to retaliate for the Trump Administration’s tariffs on their exports of steel and aluminum to the US. Years of growing global whisky sales spurred by reduced – or eliminated – import tariffs are now threatened as whisky has become one of many pieces in play in a political game of “chicken.” With their collective futures at stake, the Kentucky Distillers Association invited colleagues from the other trade associations representing the world’s major whisky and distilled spirits producers to a two-day conference in Louisville.

Kentucky Distillers Association President Eric Gregory speaks at the "Spirit of Collaboration Summit" news briefing in Louisville, Kentucky July 26, 2018. Photo ©2018, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media. “Together, we form the W9, or the ‘Whisky 9,’ to serve as an open exchange of ideas, strategy, and a shared commitment to preserving free and fair trade,” KDA President Eric Gregory announced at a news conference following the closed-door “Spirit of Collaboration Summit.” As an example, Gregory cited the significant growth of whisky traded between the US and the European Union following the elimination of most tariffs in 1997 and similar expansion in trade with Canada following the elimination of tariffs in 1995 with the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“The bottom line: the world whisky market is large, and it’s growing, and we all drink one another’s whisky,” Gregory said. “Trade agreements have been important to the development of this large and diverse market that consumers have chosen to create, and that’s why we started expressing concern when our industry was caught in the middle of this dispute.” The summit produced unanimous agreement on a resolution calling on world leaders to de-escalate the current trade conflicts and return to a system of “free and fair trade.”

Listen to the “Spirit of Collaboration Summit” news briefing:

 
The summit started late Wednesday, hours after a White House meeting between US President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. That meeting, while not producing any concrete agreements, resulted in both sides agreeing to hold off on additional sanctions against each other while negotiators work toward a resolution of the original dispute over steel and aluminum trade. If – and only if – an agreement on that issue can be reached, it would clear the way for the European Union to remove its tariffs on American-made whiskies and other exports.

Scotch Whisky Association CEO Karen Betts signs a joint resolution at the "Spirit of Collaboration Summit" news briefing in Louisville, Kentucky July 26, 2018. Photo ©2018, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media. Without exception, the industry leaders praised that development as a positive step. According to Scotch Whisky Association CEO Karen Betts, the Trump-Juncker meeting “clearly has put a positive momentum behind trade talks between Europe and the US, and we hope that those now move forward to strengthen that really important trading relationship.”

The pause in rhetoric would appear to delay the retaliatory moves threatened by the Trump Administration following the tariffs imposed by the EU, Canada, China, Mexico, and Turkey over the last month. The administration’s public position has been that retaliation could come in the form of new tariffs on imported cars and auto parts. While Japan has not yet joined the list of countries targeting American whiskies, Jun Tanaka of the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association predicted his country would likely follow suit if the US made that move.

“I think our government has tried to persuade the US government in a quiet way,” he said in an interview. “If things come to cars and automobile parts, an important Japanese product, they would think about retaliating.” Tanaka also pointed out that his country is also being affected by the current tariffs on American whiskies, since Suntory (Beam) and Kirin (Four Roses) have significant investments in the United States.

While some of the large American whisky makers have been able to minimize the impact of tariffs on their export sales by shipping extra stock to Europe and Canada in the first half of 2018, the largest impact so far has been felt by craft distillers. Margie Lehrman of the American Craft Spirits Association represented her members at the summit, and noted several instances where the trade dispute created problems even before the imposition of tariffs.

“Just the threat of some sort of trade war was enough to cut down discussion and any kind of negotiations on contracts,” she said, citing a specific case where an importer forced one of her members to reduce its wholesale prices by 15 percent while an export shipment were in transit or risk losing the entire deal. “I have one distiller in Ohio who let me know he expected next year to do about 25 percent of his volume going to export, and now it’s been cut down to 15 percent. In terms of dollars, that makes a big difference…he didn’t say what is not going to happen, but I’ve talked with others who said ‘you know, we were just about to institute these health benefits for employees…might not be able to do so now.'”

Lehrman and her colleagues also cited the ripple effect of tariffs throughout the economy, especially for agricultural-based products like whisky. The effect has been felt widely throughout the agriculture industry, which was promised up to $12 billion in assistance by President Trump this week. However, the tariffs reach all the way from agriculture to transportation, the manufacturers who produce bottles and packaging, and other industry sectors.

Gregory’s team put together the summit in just a couple of weeks, and he deemed it a success. While members of Congress were turned away after requesting to attend the meeting, they have been in regular contact with the KDA. It also appears the industry leaders will be in regular contact with each other following this inaugural summit, as Gregory noted.

“I thought it was a good sign when we all met last night and got talking…and people were already talking about where to hold the summit next year,” he said.

Listen to this week’s WhiskyCast for more coverage of the Spirit of Collaboration Summit.

Links: Kentucky Distillers Association | Scotch Whisky Association | American Craft Spirits Association

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Whisky Summit To Focus On Trade Issues

July 20, 2018 – “We just felt it was time to get the family together…”

That’s how Kentucky Distillers Association president Eric Gregory describes the impetus for the first-ever “whisky summit” with the leaders of nine major global whisky industry associations. The summit will take place in Louisville July 25-26 and focus on a common response to the global trade conflicts that have dragged the industry into the middle of a trade war.

“Every trade organization in whisky has been talking about this and issuing statements about this,” Gregory said in a telephone interview. “We’re looking forward to getting everyone in a room and discussing what’s going on and how we can possibly be an influence as an industry instead of just separate partners in all this. I would like to think that we can come out with something that really encourages our world leaders, as we’ve all said, to de-escalate this conflict and get back to free and fair trade so we can get back to the business of making the world’s greatest whiskies,” he said.

The summit will include leaders of nine different associations representing a significant majority of the world’s whisky producers:

  • Distilled Spirits Council
  • Kentucky Distillers Association
  • Scotch Whisky Association
  • Irish Whiskey & Spirits Associations
  • Spirits Canada
  • SpiritsEUROPE
  • Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Producers Makers Association
  • The Presidents’ Forum (USA)
  • American Craft Spirits Association

The summit will be held behind closed doors, and Gregory noted that he’s turned down requests from members of Congress to attend the meetings. The group will hold a news conference following the summit’s conclusion on Thursday, July 26 at the Frazier History Museum on Louisville’s “Whiskey Row” along Main Street, and will also plant an oak tree in front of the museum.

Whisky has become collateral damage in the global trade dispute between the United States and many of its key trading partners, including Canada, the European Union, Mexico, and China. All four have imposed tariffs of between 10 and 25 percent on American whiskey and other US exports over the last six weeks in retaliation for US tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed by the Trump Administration.

The impact has already been felt by smaller US whisky distillers, who have seen export orders cancelled after the tariffs took effect. Earlier this week, the United States filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over those retaliatory tariffs, while defending the decision to impose its own tariffs on national security grounds.

WhiskyCast will have coverage of the summit from Louisville on our midweek episode this week.

Editor’s note: This story was edited to reflect the addition of the American Craft Spirits Association to the summit after the original announcement was issued. 

Links: Kentucky Distillers Association

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Crown Royal’s Bourbon…Uh, Blender’s Mash

With the ongoing trade dispute between the US and Canada, it’s important to keep in mind that Canadian Whisky remains extremely popular in the US. Crown Royal has released the latest edition in its Noble Collection series – a 13-year-old “Blender’s Mash” using one of the five different styles of whisky Crown Royal makes at its distillery in Gimli, Manitoba. They call it a different name at the distillery, though…and when they tried to use that “Bourbon Mash” name in the US…let’s just say it didn’t go quite as planned.

Links: Crown Royal

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Second Half of Barton 1792 Warehouse Collapses

July 4, 2018 – Twelve days after half of a maturation warehouse at Sazerac’s Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky collapsed, the remaining half of the structure has now come crashing down with another 9,000 barrels of whiskey inside. That half of the structure survived the initial June 22 collapse, but the potential for it to come down had structural engineers trying to find a way to shore up the structure and allow for workers to begin removing the estimated 9,000 barrels damaged or destroyed in the initial collapse. In a statement, Sazerac executives said there was no way to stabilize the remaining structure due to worker safety concerns. There were no injuries reported in the second collapse.

A response team from the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection responded to the site.  Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman John Mura told WhiskyCast in an email that it appears all whiskey spilled during the second collapse was successfully captured in two containment ponds dug after the June 22 collapse. The Sazerac statement indicated that plans had been put in place after that collapse to have equipment on site in preparation for any additional spills, and that the distillery’s team was able to respond quickly to the second collapse. The state’s response team will be at the distillery on Thursday and has been monitoring the situation since the June 22 collapse, when spilled alcohol killed an estimated 1,000 fish in Withrow Creek and the Beech Fork River. Sazerac is already facing citations for the original alcohol spill and for not reporting it promptly to state officials.

Bardstown Fire Department Chief Billy Mattingly provided photos of the scene, which has been off limits to reporters since the initial collapse. According to WDRB-TV in Louisville, people living near the distillery were asked to not set off Independence Day fireworks because of the potential fire hazard.

The aftermath following the collapse of the remainder of a whiskey warehouse at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky July 4, 2018. Photo courtesy Billy Mattingly/Bardstown Fire Department.

The aftermath following the collapse of the remainder of a whiskey warehouse at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky July 4, 2018. Photo courtesy Billy Mattingly/Bardstown Fire Department.

The warehouse was constructed in the 1940s, and Sazerac indicates it will likely be several weeks before the cause of the collapse is determined. The company is developing plans for a new warehouse to store barrels recovered from the site. In addition, structural engineers have inspected all of the other warehouses at Barton 1792 since the original collapse. All of those warehouses passed inspection, as did the warehouses at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort and Glenmore Distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky.

This story will be updated with additional information as necessary, and listen to this weekend’s WhiskyCast for more coverage.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with additional information provided by Sazerac and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Links: Barton 1792 | Bardstown Fire Department

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