American alcohol is once again a victim of international conflict. The Russian parliament and Vladimir Putin are considering banning all alcohol imports from the U.S. to Russia.
The restrictions are meant to respond to what the Russian government calls “boorish behaviour on the part of the U.S.” in regards to military strikes in Syria and other diplomatic sanctions, according to The Spirits Business. It will completely ban or restrict imports of “agricultural products, raw materials and food products originating in the United States” and its allies—including alcohol.
Russia has been an increasingly important market for U.S. bourbon and rum producers since 2009, according to a 2017 report by the U.S. Ministry of Industry and Trade. The U.S. is Russia’s fourth largest supplier of spirits, with total sales to Russia coming in at around $45 million a year. Craft beer sales are close to $1 million. Overall, Russia imports $684 million worth of liquor. It’s a big drinking country with a population that consumes, per capita, more than twice the worldwide average amount of alcohol.
U.S. distilleries just can’t seem to catch a break. In March, the European Union threatened a steep tax on bourbon in response to steel and aluminum tariffs proposed by President Donald Trump. China is currently considering a 25 percent tariff on American whiskey due to Trump’s 25 percent tariff on Chinese industrial products. If Russia and other countries follow through on the tariffs and bans, distillers could be hurt as the export markets for U.S. spirits shrink. Consider buying an extra bottle of whiskey from your favorite American distiller in the near future, because who knows what’s coming next for them.