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Mexican Retaliation On U.S. Tariffs Hits Bourbon

MEXICO CITY —  Mexicans might reconsider making their bourbon a double once the 25 percent tariff on this product hits their pockets.

The most iconic alcoholic beverage of Americana, bourbon, has been targeted by the trade wars between the U.S. and Mexico. After the U.S. government imposed tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum, its Mexican counterparts retaliated by taxing several American goods, including Southern-style whiskey.

But some trust the market’s loyalty to alcoholic drinks, which are considered luxury products. Among them is Jeremy Albelda, an American-born immigrant in Mexico and part-owner of the Dog House Pub in Mexico City.

“People have been drinking it for a long time and they’re not really gonna stop, so it might affect but, hopefully, they like it so much that they won’t (chuckles),” Albelda said. "I don’t think it’s gonna affect us too much because, you know, whisky or alcohol in general is a luxury item, and if people want to have a Jack n’ Coke and it’s 10 cents more, they’ll still gonna make it happen.”

But Albelda knows he’ll have to raise prices if importers don’t absorb the tariffs.

“Ugh, unfortunately the big heads on the top are fighting up there and who gets affected are us,” the business owner stated.

According to the Mexican secretary of economy, 3.1 million liters of whiskey entered Mexico from the United States in 2017. That's 7 percent more than the previous year, as well as being the highest volume in history.

“I think a lot of Americans don’t realize how many people south of the border are  buying our products; I think people don’t really realize that the Mexican market is  pretty sophisticated, especially when it comes to food and drink," Albelda said.

Others concerned are the producers of one of Mexico's signature drinks. The Mexican Council of Mezcal stated they fear an “eye for an eye” situation.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to correct  the spelling of Jeremy Albelda's name.

Rodrigo Cervantes is KJZZ’s bureau chief in Mexico City, where he was born and raised. He has served as opinion writer, contributor and commentator for several media outlets and organizations in Mexico and the United States, including CNN, Georgia Public Broadcasting and Univisión. Cervantes previously worked as the business editor and editorial coordinator for El Norte, the leading newspaper in Monterrey and a publication of Grupo Reforma, Mexico’s premier news group. In Mexico City, Cervantes served in Reforma as a reporter, special correspondent, editor and special sections coordinator. Cervantes also held the editor position at MundoHispánico, a division of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Georgia’s oldest and largest Latino newspaper. He also participated as one of the first members of the Diversity Advisory Group for Cox Media. In 2012, Cervantes was appointed as fellow for the Leadership Program of The New York Times/Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, as well as for the "Líderes Digitales" program from the International Center for Journalists. In 2010, he was awarded with the Poynter-McCormick Leadership Fellowship. Cervantes graduated with honors in communication sciences and journalism from the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM), Mexico City Campus. Later, he was granted the Fundación Carolina Scholarship from the Spanish government to obtain an MBA degree at San Pablo-CEU School of Business (Madrid). Other awards include: the Power 30 Under 30 Award for Professional and Community Excellence in Atlanta, the Outstanding Alumni Medal from ITESM, and several José Martí Awards for Journalism Excellence from the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP). Cervantes enjoys music, books, travel, friendship, good mezcal and the occasional company of his guitar.