Skip to the content

US Tariffs on Scotch Whisky

A tariff of 25% has been announced on US imports of Scotch Whisky. Learn more about the impact this is having on the Scotch Whisky industry.

Featured Insight

Briefing: Scotch Whisky and US Tariffs

Find out more about tariffs on imports of Scotch Whisky to the United States.

A 25% tariff has been implemented on US imports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Liqueurs.  This is very bad news for our industry.  It means that Scotch Whisky is now paying for over 60% of the UK’s tariff bill for the subsidies it provided to Airbus, eight times more than the next most valuable UK product on the tariff list. That Single Malts are being targeted is particularly damaging for smaller producers, who stand to be the hardest hit.

Scotch Whisky has been imported tariff-free to the United States for the last 25 years.  This move undermines decades of hard work and investment which has seen Scotch Whisky sales boom in the US.  It will impact both our industry and its supply chain.

We estimate that 25% tariff on Single Malt Scotch Whisky will see exports to the US drop by as much as 20% in the next 12 months, as Scotch Whisky will become less competitive in the US market.  In time, consumer choice will diminish and Scotch Whisky companies will start to lose market share.  In Scotland and throughout our UK supply chain, we expect to see a dropping-off in investment and productivity.  Ultimately, jobs could be at risk.

We expect the damage to our industry to mirror the damage caused to exports of American whiskies to Europe since the EU imposed a 25% tariff in July 2018.  That tariff has done nothing other than damage an industry very similar to, and closely linked with, our own.  Alongside American whiskey companies, we have called on the UK, US and EU governments for many months now to find a negotiated solution to the trade disputes that have given rise to these tit-for-tat tariffs, and to ensure that duty-free trade can resume between the UK and the US to the benefit of whisky producers, their employees, the communities we work in, and consumers everywhere.

We now need the UK and Scottish governments to work together to ensure distillers can weather the storm.  We want them to consider a range of support to the industry, including reducing the UK tax burden on Scotch Whisky.

Despite multiple pressures on the UK government, including Brexit, this issue must not fade from the minds of Ministers. Scotch Whisky has long been a standout export success.  This is now at risk if government strategy does not urgently use all the powers at its disposal to remove these damaging tariffs.

US Tariffs on Scotch Whisky news & commentary

24 June 2020

US Tariffs: SWA comment on latest USTR announcement

Read the latest comment from the SWA on the USTR's recent announcement on the possibility of new tariffs on spirits products.

07 May 2020

SWA Calls for Tariff Elimination as US-UK Free Trade Talks Begin

The SWA has welcomed the formal trade negotiations that have begun this week between the UK and the US governments, and calls for removal of all tariffs on whiskies.

14 February 2020

SWA reaction to USTR tariff notification

The SWA's Chief Executive Karen Betts comments on the latest USTR tariff notification in response to the Airbus/Boeing dispute.

11 February 2020

Scotch Whisky exports surge amidst backdrop of tariff uncertainty

Scotch Whisky exports grew by 4.4% to more than £4.9bn in 2019, with 1.3bn bottles exported to 180 markets.

18 October 2019

SWA calls for end to damaging trade war as 25% tariff to US comes into force

The SWA is calling for support from the UK government following the imposition of a 25% tariff on US imports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Liqueurs.

03 October 2019

SWA statement on US Tariffs for Scotch Whisky

The SWA responds to US import tariffs on Scotch Whisky.