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Distilled Dispatch January 19, 2017


January 19, 2016 | Volume 2, Issue 1
Kraig Naasz

President’s Perspective: 
2017 Starts with a Ball

As 2017 gets underway, our nation’s capital is brimming with activity.  
The 115th Congress was sworn in shortly after we rang in the New Year and promptly got to work.  This coming Friday, President-elect Donald Trump will take the oath of office and begin his term as the 45th president of the United States.  With the political landscape looking vastly different than just a few short months ago, we expect a flurry of action.

President-elect Trump’s cabinet is coming into form and as confirmations move forward, we are working to educate appointees on critical issues for the spirits sector.  Providing appointees with an introduction to the complex issues we face in the marketplace and policy arena is helpful in building and solidifying strong relationships. 

The confirmation process is also an opportunity to solicit intel on how the prospective appointees and their respective departments may handle issues important to us.  Our government affairs team is working with our friends in Congress to make sure the right questions are asked and that we understand the administration’s priorities relative to the agencies that oversee aspects of the spirits sector.

One opportunity where we are pro-actively assisting lawmakers is the attempt to shepherd tax reform through Congress.  The House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees are weighing several options and we continue to press to ensure reducing the Federal Excise Tax (FET) at the forefront of the discussion.  Starting on swearing-in day, we visited new members to introduce ourselves and educate them about the unfair tax burden shouldered by the spirits sector.  Getting an FET reduction for beer, wine and spirits remains a top priority – and we feel enthusiastic about our prospects.   

Another opportunity is regulatory reform, which will be among the very first items on the agenda of the new Trump Administration.  We welcome any effort to ensure agencies minimize burdensome regulations so that they serve the public without unnecessarily burdening businesses.  We will also ask that the administration look at the application of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the menu labeling provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) on our products.

We have an ambitious agenda and as the inauguration draws near it’s important that we also highlight the hospitality side of the distilled spirits sector.  We are especially pleased to host “The Whiskey Ball” on Friday, Jan. 20, for lawmakers, top-tier journalists and D.C. opinion leaders.  The Whiskey Ball will enable us to showcase all of our members’ products and highlight the fact that there is nothing like sharing a cocktail to bring together a diverse audience, where they can converse and enjoy conviviality.  Cheers to one and all!

Colombia Levels Playing Field for Imported Spirits 

Following long-term efforts by the Distilled Spirits Council, Colombia ushered in comprehensive reform of its beverage alcohol market on Jan. 1, and eliminated the discriminatory practices against imported spirits that have been in place for over two decades. 

Adoption of this legislation resolves the Distilled Spirits Council’s concerns over discriminatory spirits taxes and practices at the state level in the Colombian market.  The new law should ensure U.S. distilled spirits have unimpeded and equal access to the Colombian marketplace. The Council will monitor implementation of the new law closely to ensure no new barriers are introduced.

Securing this positive outcome would not have been possible without the strong support of the U.S. government, particularly the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and State, and the U.S. embassy in Bogota.

For more information, please contact Council Senior Vice President for International Affairs Christine LoCascio at (202) 682-8883 or

Naasz Joins WSKY ETF in Ringing NYSE Closing Bell

Distilled Spirits Council President & CEO Kraig R. Naasz recently toasted the new WSKY ETF and joined in ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Spirited Funds/ETFMG Whiskey and Spirits ETF, trading as WSKY, invests primarily in companies that derive the majority of their revenue from producing and marketing whiskey and spirits. 

Sales are flourishing for high-end premium and super-premium bourbon and Tennessee whiskey in the United States with sales increasing 50 and 155 percent, respectively, from 2010 to 2015.  Exports of U.S. spirits were up 4 percent last year – with U.S. whiskey exports up an impressive 5.4 percent.  In total, U.S. spirits retail sales have grown to more than $60 billion.

For more information, please contact Council Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Frank Coleman at (202) 682-8840 or


Council Hosts Reception for White House Press Secretary 

The Distilled Spirits Council Friday co-hosted a reception honoring White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer with lawmakers and top political reporters.  Attendees enjoyed cocktails at what was described as the unofficial kick-off to the inauguration week. 

For more information, please contact Council Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Frank Coleman at (202) 682-8840 or

Council Senior Vice President for Public Affairs Frank Coleman with PBS NewsHour Anchor Judy Woodruff, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.).

KOVAL Distillery Named Illinois Exporter of the Year 

KOVAL Distillery was recently named Illinois Exporter of the Year as part of the Illinois 2016 Governor’s Export Awards.
As a member of the Council, KOVAL has successfully leveraged its Market Access Program (MAP), in conjunction with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, to significantly expand its brand abroad.  The distillery currently exports to Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, and will begin exporting to Taiwan, Korea and China in 2017.  
The Governor’s Export Awards are Illinois’ highest recognition of export achievement, honoring Illinois companies that have achieved excellence in exporting, as well as organizations that provide export assistance.

For more information, please contact Council Senior Vice President of Member Relations Michele Famiglietti at (202) 682-8819 or


Council Provides Alcohol & Health Seminars to Members 

Distilled Spirits Council Senior Vice President of Scientific Affairs Dr. Sam Zakhari provided a presentation on alcohol and health to Brown-Forman senior executives and staff.  During the presentation, he discussed alcohol research and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  

According to Brown-Forman's Rob Frederick, "The presentation opened our eyes and minds to these dynamic and important issues.  Dr. Zakhari made our learning enjoyable and I would highly recommend other member companies consider hosting a similar session."

For more information, please contact Council Senior Vice President of Scientific Affairs Sam Zakhari at (202) 682-8837 or

Council Vice President for Government Relations David Culver with U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) during swearing-in day on Capitol Hill.

February 23
Distilled Spirits Council
Annual Board Meeting
Palm Beach, Fla.
March 2
WhiskyFest 2017
Washington, D.C.
March 8-9
The Shanken 41st Annual Impact Marketing Seminar
New York, N.Y.

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