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Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Celebrates American Whiskeys in Seoul

May 16, 2012 10:18 AM

Hosts Cocktail Seminars for Influential Korean Beverage Trade and Media

SEOUL (May 14, 2012) – The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), US. Ambassador to Korea, Sung Y. Kim, and famed New York mixologist Christy Pope today hosted the first of two seminars in Seoul for the local beverage trade and media.  The events mark the Council’s first whiskey promotion in Korea since the passage of the U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement, which eliminated all tariffs on American Whiskey imports. 

The first event, hosted at the Embassy Residence, featured a presentation by Council Senior Vice President Frank Coleman highlighting the history of American Whiskey and a tasting of brands from a variety of U.S. producers.  Guests had the opportunity to sample and learn about the complex flavors and unique aging process of American Whiskeys.  Attendees were also treated to hands-on cocktail presentation by New York mixologist Christy Pope. 

“We are honored to be here in Seoul to celebrate the U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement and to showcase the heritage and flavors of American Whiskeys,” said Coleman.  “Premium Bourbons and Tennessee Whiskeys are experiencing significant growth in global markets because of their authentic heritage, their distinctive flavors and their versatility in cocktails.”

Pope added, “Whether served straight, over ice, or in simple, creative cocktails, these drinks are perfect for any occasion.  My goal is to educate the beverage trade in Korea on the benefits of including American Whiskeys in their cocktail programs.”

Tomorrow will feature a second seminar and reception for Korean beverage buyers, bartenders and media at Club Ellui, where Coleman and Pope will again share their knowledge about American spirits and cocktail trends.

Under the U.S. – Korea (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which was implemented on March 15, 2012, Korea has eliminated the 20% tariff on Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey.  The tariffs on other U.S. spirits products will be eliminated gradually over the next five years.   Further, South Korea now recognizes Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey as distinctive products of the U.S., joining many other countries around the globe. This will ensure that only products made in the U.S. according to rigorous standards may be sold as Bourbon or Tennessee Whiskey in Korea.


  • Retail sales of American whiskeys (i.e., Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey) in Korea totaled over $63 million in 2011.  Euromonitor International predicts that retail sales of American whiskeys will grow by 25% over the next 5 years.  (Source: Euromonitor)
  • Under the recently-implemented Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, Korea has recognized Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey as “distinctive products” of the United States.  Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey are also recognized as distinctive products in a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the E.U., and in free trade agreements the U.S. has completed with Australia, Chile, Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Panama..
  • In 2011, exports of American whiskeys totaled over $919 million (FAS value), accounting for almost 70% of total U.S. spirits exports worldwide.   Exports to Korea in 2011 reached $8.3 million, of which 76% were accounted for by whiskeys.  (Source:  US International Trade Commission)

For more information or photos from the events, please contact:
In Korea:
Shinhyung Chung / Lan Sohn
Sohn's Market Makers
Phone: 82-2-543-9380
E-mail: /

In The United States:
Alexandra Sklansky, Director of Public Relations
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
Phone: 516-428-7210



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