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Local craft distilleries concerned over China's tariff on bourbon

Posted: 10:03 PM, Jul 06, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-06 23:16:43-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The trade war could soon hit close to home and it has local establishments watching the decisions made in China.

Tom's Town in the Crossroads is one of 30 craft distilleries in Missouri.

They're known for their award-winning spirits including gin, vodka, whiskey and bourbon. 

"Bourbon is hot, hot, hot right now in the American market and what's happening — it's starting to explode on the international market," David Epstein, co-founder of Tom's Town told 41 Action News.

While they don't sell their product overseas just yet, Epstein is concerned about the latest 25 percent tariff China has imposed on American bourbon.

"The Asian market is just being introduced to bourbon as a great spirit to try," Epstein said. "The worry is that it becomes outpriced for the Chinese consumer or any Asian consumer".

Which means in China a $45 bottle of bourbon will cost almost another $12.

"The Asian market says no and it begins to get dumped back into the American market so it depresses the price of all sorts whiskeys across the American market," Epstein said.

While giant corporations can lower prices, the saturation of the market would leave some craft distilleries scrambling.

But time is on their side.

Epstein doesn't believe that this tariff will have an impact on the American market within the next month or two.

"I don't expect a significant change for the next possibly for the rest of the year--it's a year after that," Epstein said.

At "Swordfish Tom's." also in the Crossroads, owner Jill Cockson, is monitoring the developments overseas.

"I mean were so small that we're insulated from a lot of things because of how small we are," Cockson said.

But in a trade war it comes down to this:

"When you start that it becomes who is going to be the winner and who's the loser and the little guy ends up always at the bottom of the barrel," Epstein said.