Distilled Spirits Council Commends Trade Agreement, Kentucky Derby to Toast Races With Mint Julep

Calling it “another positive step for global trade,” the Distilled Spirits Council applauded the announcement that the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement will officially enter into force on May 15. As of May 15, Colombia’s currently applied 15% tariff on U.S. produced brandy, gin, liqueurs and certain other spirits will be eliminated. The 15% tariff on U.S. whiskey, rum and vodka will be reduced to 14% in 2014 and further reduced by 2 percentage points annually until the duties are completely eliminated. Other provisions of the agreement include a commitment by Colombia to eliminate its discriminatory excise tax regime for spirits within four years, which will ensure that U.S. spirits products are on a level playing field with domestically-produced spirits in the Colombian market. For more on this topic, click here.

Early TimesFor the past 25 years, the Early Times Mint Julep has proudly served as the "Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby." In celebration, Early Times Kentucky Whisky continues its tradition with the release of the 2012 commemorative Kentucky Derby bottle.

The 2012 Early Times Mint Julep commemorative bottle features the artwork of Celeste Susany from Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Susany, a former bottle artist, won the second national artist search contest conducted by Early Times to find the artwork featured on the 2012 Kentucky Derby bottle. Her artwork entitled, "Out of the Gate," was selected from hundreds of entries from across the country. She also received $5,000 and a trip for two to the 2012 Kentucky Derby. For more information and to find out how artists can submit their artwork for next year's bottle design, click here.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, solid growth in sales of cognac and other liquors in emerging markets offset a decline in France for beverage purveyor Pernod Ricard, which recently reported a 5% increase in third-quarter sales.

The maker of Beefeater gin and Jameson whisky said the drop in French sales was largely due to an excise duty increase. Still, the group managed to grow overall revenue to $2.3 billion for the January to March period, its fiscal third quarter. The company's shares opened up on Paris bourse, gaining 0.8% in early trading.

Revenue in the company's home market fell 42% after wholesalers mostly sat out the third quarter, having stocked up on liquor before the duty increase came into effect in January. Pernod Ricard, known for its anise-flavored liqueurs, said it expected sales would continue to be hit by the trend in the last quarter of the year.

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