Distillers Meet with Lawmakers on Key Issues Impacting Hospitality Industry


Over 40 distillers from across the country gathered June 7-8 in Washington, D.C. for the Distilled Spirits Council’s seventh annual Public Policy Conference.

As part of the conference, the distillers participated in 120 Congressional visits with their home state legislators to urge support for a reduction in the federal excise tax on spirits, and passage of important trade legislation to open markets for American spirits products. Lawmakers were also invited to tour local distilleries in order to see firsthand how this sector of the hospitality industry is creating local jobs, generating tax revenue and producing high-quality distilled spirits.

“This conference brought together leaders in the distilling sector to discuss policy issues that impact them at both the federal and state levels,” said Distilled Spirits Council President & CEO Kraig R. Naasz. “These distillers came to Washington to deliver a unified message to legislative leaders that distilleries of all sizes play an important role in the nation’s economy.”

The conference featured a number of special guest speakers including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee; John Manfreda, Administrator of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau; Phil Karsting, USDA Foreign Agriculture Administrator; and CNN anchor John King.

Conferees participated in a series of legislative, regulatory and business sessions on topics including HR 2520 (The Distillery Innovation and Excise Tax Reform Act), legislation to reduce the spirits federal excise tax; U.S. and global market access opportunities; and key state policy updates, as well as a 2016 election overview.

The distilled spirits sector experienced a record sixth-consecutive year of market share gain, with supplier sales up 4.1 percent in 2015. An important economic driver, the sector supports 1.4 million jobs and generates $141 million in economic activity annually. U.S. distilled spirits exports continued their upward trajectory, topping $1.57 billion in 2015.