I’m not going to go into much depth here or give any opinions, I just wanted to give a heads up to anyone who hasn’t already heard: The US, in an ongoing spat with the EU over airline subsidies, has announced – in retribution – a set of tariffs against retail products imported from the EU/UK into the US. These tariffs start 10/18/2019 in the US and will add 25% (!!) to the IMPORTER’S cost in the form of an ad valorum tax. It is uncertain whether these tariffs will actually happen on the 18th, how long they will last, or how much retail customers in the US will see prices increase.
The tariffs apply to single-malt scotch (not blended scotch) and Irish single-malt whiskey (oddly, not single pot still) that is made in the UK (so, Northern Ireland). I can’t say whether you should pre-buy any single malts now against potential price increases, but I can tell you that I have filled up my cabinet with a few “rainy day” single malts that I wouldn’t want to pay 25% more for.
I have spoken to a few people in the retail liquor industry in California and they say that because the taxes hit the importer, their markups could get amplified (compounded) by the distributor and retailer markups. In other words, we could see price increases of MORE than 25% at the shelves. There’s still a lot of uncertainty, and more retailers won’t know what effect these tariffs will have until they get updated price sheets from their distributors. Furthermore, nobody knows what effect Brexit might or might not have on this dispute.
Good luck out there.