New Leaders for the Nation’s ‘Bourbon Caucus’

Statesman Henry Clay landed in Washington, D.C. more than 200 years ago. Despite their disagreements, Clay believed Americans should be willing to communicate with one another.

Clay brought a barrel of bourbon, one of Kentucky’s most prized possessions, to help start the discussion. The idea that bourbon may “lubricate the gears of government” originated with Henry Clay.

At the end of this post, you’ll get Clay’s original Mint Julep cocktail recipe.

New Leadership

U.S. Representatives Andy Barr (R) of Kentucky and Morgan McGarvey (D) of Kentucky reestablished the Congressional Bourbon Caucus as an official Congressional Member Organization for the 118th Congress.

This was done to begin the 2023 session of Congress.

The Bourbon Caucus was established in 2009 and is composed of a nonpartisan group of members.

They are each committed to advancing the bourbon business in the United States and enlightening other lawmakers on legislative and regulatory matters affecting the sector. The caucus will be co-chaired by Barr and McGarvey.

Rep. Barr said he looks forward to collaborating with his friend, Rep. Morgan McGarvey, to defend this iconic Kentucky industry. He said he was happy to welcome him to the Congressional Bourbon Caucus.

He claimed he was honored to chair the Aged Distilled Spirits Act in the last Congress, which was a part of the Craft Beverage Modernization Act.

To support the business in the years to come, the Bourbon Caucus will now attempt to keep zero to zero tariffs with the EU.

American whiskey was subject to 25% tariffs from the EU and the UK in 2018, with a 50% duty rise scheduled for the EU in June 2021.

Over four dozen members of Congress signed a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai organized by Rep. Barr and urged the administration to discuss the delay and abolition of the tariffs.

While the duties were delayed, if a resolution to the issue is not reached by 2024, the EU is scheduled to reimpose a 50% tax.

Rep. McGarvey remarked it’s a privilege to join his colleague, Congressman Barr, as co-chair of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus.

In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the bourbon business is crucial, creating employment and boosting the economy. He said he’s honored to serve as the leader of this cross-party caucus and to work to defend and advance distilled spirits both domestically and abroad.

Bipartisan Leadership

According to Chris Swonger, President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States – DISCUS – the Bourbon Caucus has been essential in the growth of distilleries around the country.

Since the caucus was established, there are now more than 2,600 distilleries around the country, up from about 100 before.

Bourbon Caucus stakeholders have encouraged the elimination of crippling tariffs on American Whiskey exports and supported historic legislation to lower the tax burden on small distillers.

These efforts have assisted distillers in expanding their operations and making investments in their local communities.