Dec. 6 was Repeal Day, the day we mark the end of the 13-year period of Prohibition that began in 1920 and ended 85 years ago.
History has shown the policy was rife with false assumptions. It didn't boost "wholesome" entertainment as policymakers intended. Restaurants and movie theaters didn't thrive. It did, however, create a rush on churches and pharmacies, who were allowed to purchase the stuff. It also led to some pretty strange state liquor laws.
Other than declarations of war, I'm hard-pressed to come up with any federal policy that has had such an impactful and immediate effect on supply chains.
Enter President Donald Trump.
In case you hadn't heard, the Trump administration has introduced some pretty sharp turns for American business this year. A trade war with the U.S.' largest trading partner has created graphs and charts of export categories that look like Olympic ski jump slopes. And though drawing parallels between Prohibition and tariffs may seem like a stretch, some officials already are.
Irish Whiskey Association head William Lavelle told Drinks Industry Ireland back in March, "The impact of such a trade war could be as devastating for the Irish whiskey and spirits industry as Prohibition was in the US when the Irish whiskey industry collapsed from being the powerhouse of global whiskey supply to near extinction."
Policy, while seeking to alter the behavior of either consumers or corporations, never really impacts demand. It just impacts the ability for supply to meet it, and the cost of businesses and consumers to obtain it.
Prohibition was an aberration in our U.S. history, but the waves it caused are a sobering reminder that today's trade policy will not simply evaporate in a distiller, even if the trade war is over by March, as the President says it could be. Policy, done this way at least, moves fast while supply chains move slow.
Even small jostles to an entity as large as the global economy are bound to have consequences beyond their original intent.
At least we can all have a whiskey now and again, though it may cost a bit more than usual.