Will Cecilia Malmström tax Bob Dylan’s Bourbon?

Monday, 30 April, 2018

The trade philosophy of the EU is based on the principle of the free movement of goods. And, so far, so good. Disruption may be coming to Brussels, however. A trans-Atlantic trade war looms after Washington hinted it will reject the EU’s demand for an unconditional waiver from metals-import tariffs. The Trump administration is asking allies to accept quotas in exchange for an exemption from steel and aluminium tariffs meant to kick in tomorrow, 1 May, when a temporary waiver expires. This puts the EU in a rather awkward position: either yield to US demands or face punitive tariffs.

Brussels is not shying from the fight, though. Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade, says she could apply 25 percent tariffs on around $3.5 billion of imports from the US — targeting iconic US goods including Levi’s jeans, Harley-Davidson motorbikes and Bourbon whiskey. Which is where Bob Dylan enters the picture. According to the New York Times, the great singer-songwriter and Nobel laureate has teamed up with a liquor entrepreneur to turn a deconsecrated church in Tennessee into a whiskey distillery. Their “Heavens Door Spirits” will produce a straight rye whiskey, a double barrel whiskey and, what Cecilia Malmström might like to tax, a Tennessee Bourbon.

Cecilia, should note however, that Bob has rather firm views on whiskey and taxes. Here’s a couplet from Copper Kettle, which appeared on his 1970 album Self Portrait:

“Daddy he made whiskey, my grandaddy he did too
We ain’t paid no whiskey tax since 1792.”

Dylan


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