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Cleveland Whiskey won't be available overseas anymore due to tariffs

Posted at 6:25 PM, Dec 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 22:08:29-05

Folks around the world won't be tossing back our local whiskey any time soon - thanks to tariffs.

From bottle to box, Cleveland is stamped on everything. There's no doubt about Cleveland Whiskey's hometown pride. 

"Since shipping our first bottles in March of 2013 we've won over 60 medals," CEO Tom Lix told News 5. 

They're doing things differently. 

"We have amazing technology that allows us to make spirits in a different way, I'm using woods like black cherry and hickory and apple and sugar maple," he said.

Their unique taste and Cleveland pride was spanning international borders until this year. 

Lix told us tariffs are making a major impact on the American whiskey business.

"As soon as the discussion of tariffs occurred people shut off their orders, said wait and see, I expected 10 percent of our revenue this year would have been from Europe and Asia, almost zero, it shut down completely," he said. 

The European Union responded to American tariffs with a select few of their own - including American whiskey. 

"We used to sell in Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Denmark. We're not selling in any of those places right now," Lix said.

The retaliatory international tariffs are targeting American goods from motorcycles to blue jeans. A response to President Donald Trump's taxes on steel and aluminum imports. 

Local businesses took a hit, including Lix's, who planned for a chunk of his business to happen overseas this year.

"With a 25 percent increase on your starting price by the time you're done you might have 50 percent increase on the price of your product and that keeps us out of the market."

He said the changes won't liquidate Cleveland Whiskey but will slow them, and other locals, down.

"I hope that we will sort of realize it's time to negotiate, get back to the table and deal with this so we can make things in this country that we can sell overseas and the products we want to buy over here we can import."