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DISCUS to host two American whiskey events in the UK

DISCUS is aiming to keep the momentum rolling for American whiskey through its House of US Spirits activations in the UK this September.


*This feature was originally published in the July 2024 issue of The Spirits Business magazine.

From tastings to masterclasses and even cocktail-paired movie nights, trade body the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (DISCUS), the national trade association representing the leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits in the US, with the support of the US Department of Agriculture, is readying the return of its House of US Spirits activation in the UK for its second year – its biggest edition yet.

DISCUSIn the UK, things are looking up again for the American whiskey category, with the rise of cocktail culture opening doors for American whiskey in signature serves, as well as younger, more adventurous whiskey drinkers seeking alternatives to Scotch. Overall, in 2023, US spirits saw record export numbers – totalling US$2.2 billion, up by 8% from the previous year – and the UK was still its fifth-largest market, accounting for US$129m of that share. Rewind the clock back to 2005 and there were just 100 craft distillers recorded in the US – now there are more than 2,600. Now more than ever, it’s an exciting time to be an American whiskey fan with more options available for consumers.

Come September, this advancement and surge of options will be on show when all eyes are on the category at House of US Spirits. Held over two weeks, for distillers, media, and consumers alike – from enthusiasts, experts to novices and the curious – the fortnight promises a smorgasbord of American whiskey-related activities, featuring the full lineup: Tennessee whiskey, Bourbon, American rye, and American single malt.

The fortnight will be fronted by two flagship events for the trade held in London on 2 September, then in Manchester on 4 September, while the rest of the period will be filled with events for consumers.

On the whole, it promises to be a thorough immersion into spirits made in the US; on how they are produced, the innovations being used, quality of liquids present and the cocktails they work best in (hint: there are many). There’ll be tastings aplenty, running through one-of-a-kind spirits and brand portfolios, as well an educational aspect via masterclasses on booming categories and cocktail trends.

Think of it like heading back to school, but in a fun kind of way, with less reading, more rye, and fewer books, more Bourbon.

The first of the flagship events will be held at TT in Shoreditch, in London. On the agenda: tastings with craft distillers and industry leaders across all American spirits categories, private tastings, new product launches, American-style canapés, and networking opportunities after the events have finished. For the latter, chances to be in a room with American craft distillers can be rare for those in the UK, and vice versa, unless you’re going back and forth between the two countries consistently, so House of US Spirits marks one of the best opportunities for one-on-one conversing.

In addition, there’ll be a panel discussion in partnership with The Spirits Business, with editor Melita Kiely as mediator, centred on the theme ‘Pour Equality: Women in the (American) Whiskey Industry’.

As well as American whiskey, DISCUS is serious about diversity and inclusion, and the panel will bring together five women for a discussion about how to celebrate and amplify the voices of women in the American and UK whiskey industries.

For those outside the trade, people that walk by TT will spot a window lined with American spirits, with a bespoke selection available for purchase inside. Moreover, the venue’s terrace and cellar bars will feature a special guest menu made up of cocktails mixed with American spirits. If that were not enough, five American films will be screened during the week, paired with American spirit-based cocktails.

Following the London festivities, the attention then shifts north to the second leg of the activation in Manchester. This will be held at Brooklyn Beer Hall at Diecast, a huge 5,000-capacity venue in the centre of the city. As in London, the aim is to showcase and educate people about American spirits, and this will be done through portfolio tastings, cocktail demos, and a masterclass named American Whiskey 101, which, as the name suggests, takes people through the nuts and bolts of the category, sampling some of its finest US-produced spirits along the way.

While this may sign off on the fortnight, with long-term growth predicted and an increasing list of distillers entering the market, it seems there will be much more to come from the category in the UK.

To register interest in the events, follow the Instagram handle @spiritsfromtheus, check

*The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Inc., prohibits discrimination in its programmes on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability, or other protected status.

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