Whisky faces double import tariffs in Russia amid sanctions row

Whisky faces double import tariffs in Russia amid sanctions row

Russia is expected to double its import tariffs on whisky as early as next month, in retaliation for Western sanctions.

A Kremlin source said the country will increase the duty on “hard liquor from unfriendly countries” as it moves to counter foreign sanctions and boost domestic production. The new tariff would be set at 20% of the value of spirits, with a minimum of €3 (around £2.54) per litre, significantly higher than the current duty, which is varies from €1.4 to €1.5 (£1.19-£1.27).

While most major whisky brands have officially withdrawn from the Russian market since the Ukraine war, their products still find their way into the country through distributors, including those with Kremlin ties. This has led to record imports of whisky in Russia this year, The Times reports.

The Scotch Whisky Association, however, downplayed the potential impact, stating that direct exports to Russia have decreased by 54% since the conflict began, and the industry fully complies with UK sanctions. A spokesperson for the industry body said “the impact of any Russian action through tariffs is limited”.

Higher tariffs are expected to be passed on to consumers, who are already paying a premium for Scotch over domestic or imported whiskies from countries like China or India.

Despite the sanctions, whisky continues to be shipped directly to Russia from Scottish ports. Live UK customs figures reveal an increase in direct exports to Russia in recent years. The Russian government has also legalised “parallel imports” of key brands, allowing distributors to source bottles without the manufacturers’ consent or cooperation.

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