To elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers.
From the Desk of Margie A.S. Lehrman, Executive Director
Dear Members of Our Vibrant Community:
In mid-April, I boarded a plane in DC to meet with ACSA’s Election Chair, Renee Bemis of Driftless Glen. Upon departure, it was sunny and warm with tulips springing up throughout town. Upon landing in Wisconsin, I was met with over 7 inches of snow. I was quickly reminded there are some things simply out of our control. Among those, babies crying during the night, squirrels digging up summer bulbs, and reduction of taxes.
WAIT…a reduction of federal excise taxes should NOT be out of our control but only IF we act NOW! It isn’t too late to sign-up for the Legislative Fly-In. And, TODAY is the last day to take advantage of the discounted room rate.
Renee confirmed the newest directors for ACSA’s Board. Learn who is representing you in our vibrant industry. Let’s extend a warm congratulations to our newest officers who give their time, treasure, and talents.
Are you confused what you can/should post on your website or social media? Concerned you’re crossing the line? Become educated during this week’s webinar and learn what you can and cannot do with your “social”.
Finally, it’s not too late to provide your economic data for our Craft Spirits Data Project. Won’t you take 15 minutes of your time to share your data. Our analysis is only as good as the data we collect.
Here’s to something within my control—thanking you for being a part of the ACSA family. And, an especially warm thank you to the Wisconsin producers for welcoming me to their beautiful tasting rooms and distilleries (see the pictures below).
Last Call! Discounted Room Rate for Public Policy Conference Expires TODAY – Monday!
Time is running out to book the special hotel rate for the ACSA & Distilled Spirits Council’s Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. next month! The negotiated rate of $289 per night at the Phoenix Park Hotel will expire after Monday, April 23 . We’ll be building on the success of last summer’s ACSA Fly-In to tackle our next big challenge: ensuring that Congress makes FET relief permanent. We’re going to need all hands on deck for the effort and hope you can join us in D.C.
Here’s all the event info:
WHAT: ACSA & the Distilled Spirits Council’s PUBLIC POLICY CONFERENCE. Come meet with your home state Representatives and Senators
WHEN: MONDAY, MAY 14TH, TUESDAY, MAY 15TH, WEDNESDAY, MAY 16TH. Check out the full-schedule**
WHERE: UNITED STATES CONGRESS — WASHINGTON, DC
EXPERIENCE: NONE REQUIRED — We provide the tools
WHO CAN ATTEND: Open to all members of ACSA/Council whether a DSP or a supplier or a package designer or friend of the industry
LODGING: PHOENIX PARK HOTEL (negotiated discounted room rate at $289.00 per night good through April 23rd). Reserve your room here and enter the group code 22304. You may also call the hotel directly at (877) 237-2082 or (202) 638-6900 and provide the group identification code: ACSA
Please Welcome Our New Officers and
The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Montana, Owner of Du Nord Craft Spirits (MN), as the President of the Board of Directors, replacing Mark Shilling, who has served as the organization’s president since April 2017. Maggie Campbell, President of Privateer Rum (MA), has also been named as the organization’s Vice President and Colin Keegan of Santa Fe Spirits (NM) will serve as Secretary/Treasurer. Together, Montana, Campbell and Keegan, who have served as key members of ACSA’s Board of Directors over the last year, and the newly-elected and re-elected Board of Directors will work with Executive Director Margie A.S. Lehrman to address the key issues facing the craft distilling industry.
“Chris is a thoughtful, deliberate, and engaging leader, and I look forward to continuing to work with him over the next year as he leads our organization into this new and exciting chapter,” said Mark Shilling, who will help transition Montana as he takes on this new role. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the members of ACSA, the only national trade association led by distillers to serve distillers, and I know Chris will do a fantastic job carrying on the great work we have accomplished over the last year.”
Renee Bemis (right) of Driftless Glen in Baraboo, WI, certifies the Board of Directors election results. Pictured with ACSA Executive Director, Margie A.S. Lehrman.
“I am humbled by this opportunity to serve our members at ACSA. I’d like to thank Mark and our retiring board members for their mentorship, support, and their tireless efforts that have set us on the path to continued success,” added Chris. “There are big shoes to fill this year as many of ACSA’s founding members leave our Board of Directors, having completed full terms. These industry leaders set the bar high with their clear vision and goal-oriented leadership, and I look forward to following their legacy as we lead ACSA into a new chapter. As the industry continues to grow at a record pace, I am excited to work with the tremendously talented team at ACSA as we continue the excellent work already in progress to elevate and advocate for our craft distilling community.”
ACSA members also elected the following individuals to the Board of Directors: Maggie Campbell, Privateer Rum Distillery (re-elected for a second term); Ryan Christiansen, Caledonia Spirits; Amber Pollock, Backwards Distillery Company; Jeff Kanof, Copperworks Distilling Company; Molly Troupe, Freeland Spirits and Melkon Khosrovian, Greenbar Distillery.
The Board of Directors will also be appointing ex officio members and leadership to its governing committees within the next few weeks. Those committees include Membership, Ethics, Convention, Education, Judging, Legislative Affairs, State Guilds, Technology, and Development.
The 2018 Board of Directors is comprised of the following individuals:
Maggie Campbell, Privateer Rum Distillery (Ipswich, MA)*
Ryan Christiansen, Caledonia Spirits (Hardwick, VT)*
James Montero, Dogfish Head Distilling (DE)
CENTRAL & MOUNTAIN
Colin Keegan, Santa Fe Spirits (NM)
Courtney McKee, Headframe Spirits (MT)
Chris Montana, Du Nord Craft Spirits (MN)
Dan Garrison, Garrison Brothers Distillery (TX)
Mark Shilling, Treaty Oak Brewing and Distilling Co. (TX)
P.T. Wood, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (CO)
Amber Pollock, Backwards Distillery Company (Casper, WY)*
Jeff Kanof, Copperworks Distilling Company (Seattle, WA)*
Ex Officio – Thomas Jensen, New Liberty Distillery (PA)
Ex Officio – Matt Hofmann, Westland Distillery (WA)
ACSA PAC Chair
Steve Johnson, Vermont Spirits (VT)
*New board appointment
**Term covers 2018-2019 (completing a term in which there is a vacant seat)
ASCA would also like to thank the visionary Board Members who have completed their elected terms, including Mike Blaum, Blaum Bros. Distillery (IL), Johnny Jeffery, Bently Heritage (NV) and Dan Farber, Osocalis Distillery (CA).
Board elections, which were supervised and certified by Renee Bemis, Driftless Glen (WI) and Jeff Wuslich of Cardinal Spirits (IN), were held last month, with close to 50% of voting members casting ballots, while officers were chosen by the full board this week.
Attention Sponsors: Join the ACSA Advisory Council
ACSA is creating an Advisory Council of our core thought leaders in the craft spirits industry. Members of the Single Barrel Sponsor level are joining to participate with the ACSA team of Tom Mooney (House Spirits), Colton Weinstein , (Corsair) and Steve Johnson (Vermont Spirits) to explore opportunities to further strengthen the industry. Any potential sponsor or supplier interested can contact any of the members of the team or Executive Director Margie Lehrman.
We Still Need Your Help: Please Respond to the
2018 Craft Spirits Data Project Survey
We’re still seeking your input for the annual Craft Spirits Data Project. The Craft Spirits Data Project, which ACSA conducts in conjunction with Park Street and the IWSR, provides the industry’s most detailed picture of the size, scope, growth trajectory and economic contributions of the craft distilling industry. This information will be critical as we continue our fight to keep the reduction in the Federal Excise Tax. We invite you to follow this link and spend a few minutes answering the survey.
ACSA 2017 Annual Report
You still can get a copy of our first official Annual Report, which attendees received at the ACSA Convention in Pittsburgh. The report includes a look back at all of our activities throughout 2017, as well as state-specific regulatory and legislative information, highlights from the most recent Craft Spirits Data Project and ACSA’s full annual budget. If you would like to receive a copy of the report, please e-mail Teresa McDaniel at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include the subject line “2017 Annual Report.” Also, watch for the link at the ACSA website, where you’ll soon be able to download a PDF of the report.
SPIRITED RESPONSE: MONTHLY POLL
Question 1 (of 3) Do you plan to reinvest the money saved from the FET reduction?
The Craft Spirits Classroom: Quenching Your Thirst for Knowledge
Webinar: The Letter—and the Spirit—of the Law for
Distillery Websites and Social Media
Corey M. Day, Murphy, Campbell, Alliston & Quinn
While internet advertising for distilleries may seem like the Wild West, there are regulations on what distillers can and can’t do. In addition, there are best practices that your company should use to avoid unwanted attention from regulators. This webinar, presented by attorney Corey Day, will help you determine if your distillery’s website and social media presence are complying with federal law. Corey is a member of the beer, wine, and distilling practice group at the Murphy, Campbell, Alliston & Quinn law firm, with a particular focus on the spirits industry. He also represents public entities and private clients in litigation matters. He is currently co-teaching Sacramento State University’s first course on brewing and distilling.
When: April 25, 3-4 PM EDT
Where: Online Webinar
Who: Corey Day, spirits industry attorney at Murphy, Campbell, Alliston & Quinn
The City of Brotherly Love is about so much more than cheesesteaks and fictional boxers who like to run up art museum steps. Over the past two decades Philadelphia has built a reputation as one of the epicenters of the craft beverage revolution—first for beer and, in more recent years, for spirits.
We’ll start with the obvious, the company that bears the city’s name: Philadelphia Distilling, best known for Bluecoat American Dry Gin and Vieux Carré Absinthe. A few years back the distillery moved from its original location in an industrial park—which it had occupied for its first 10 years of existence—to its more visitor-friendly digs in the hip Fishtown neighborhood. The new location features a production facility that’s in full view of its onsite cocktail bar. Less than a mile northwest of Philadelphia Distilling is New Liberty Distillery, the producer behind such spirits as New Liberty Dutch Malt Whiskey, Cradle of Liberty White Whiskey, Dreadnaught White Rum and Powderhorn Vodka. The distillery, part of Millstone Spirits Group, is open for tours on weekends and the bar is open for happy hour on Fridays. Not too far from New Liberty is Rowhouse Spirits, one of the few American distilleries making poitin, the Irish moonshine equivalent. Rowhouse also produces an aquavit, gin, rum and a range of Italian-inspired amari.
Philly boasts one of the more storied cocktail bar scenes as well. The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, is a nod to its illicit origins as a front for gangster Max “Boo Boo” Hoff’s booze-running activities during Prohibition. Now, the 21 st-century bar retains much of the spirit of the Roaring ’20s with classics and modern twists on old favorites. If you want to eat while you imbibe, your best bet is nearby Village Whiskey, which, in addition to an epic selection of its namesake spirit, offers some of the best burgers and other bites in all of Philadelphia. Philly has quite a few go-to whiskey bars. In addition to an extensive whiskey list and a restaurant featuring artisanal bar fare, Bourbon & Branch in the Northern Liberties neighborhood houses a live music venue upstairs. A mile from there, Lloyd Whiskey Barserves sandwiches and shareable small plates, along with its signature sips.
Last but certainly not least, an absolutely essential stop is Hop Sing Laundromat in the city’s Chinatown. The bar is not visible from the street—in fact it’s hard to tell where they’re even hiding the place—but the usual line outside makes it pretty easy to find. You do have to jump through a few verbal hoops before they let you in the door, but it’s all worth it. You’ll love the drinks and the bar top that’s covered in nickels. But make sure you leave your smartphone in your pocket. There’s a strict no-photos, no-phones, no-screens policy.
A Q&A with Your ACSA Family
Colorado’s Distillery 291 has been racking up quite a few awards and accolades lately, especially for its rye whiskey, and we were able to catch up with founder/distiller Michael Myers this month for a Q&A. We also connected with Angela Agati, spirits market manager of Berlin Packaging, to chat about key bottle design trends in the craft spirits industry.
As a packaging supplier, what do you see as the top three trends in craft spirits bottles?
Angela Agati : No 1.: Colored Glass—It’s not just antique green and amber, customers are looking for bottles in blue, purple and a variety of other colors. No. 2: Antique Bottles—The “apothecary” look that started a few years back continues to remain strong in the market.No. 3: Customization—From full body embossments to complex decoration, craft spirits producers want intricate and unique decoration that will help their products to stand out on the shelf.
From your perspective as a distiller, what do you see as the significant trends and challenges?
Michael Myers: The trends and the challenges are both functions of the rapid growth in the industry. In an effort to stand out and get recognized, distillers are creating new flavor profiles. Also, many of the smaller and newer players are focusing on unaged spirits or purchasing spirit from third-party providers, because the working capital requirements for aged spirits are so high. At 291, we are big believers in creativity, but we are also big believers in staying true to the whiskey experience. So experimentation is part of our production plan, and we offer periodic experimental releases under our “E” label. For the industry overall, we expect the good experiments to stick and the others to have short lifecycles. We also believe that third-party sourcing of spirit is now ingrained as part of the business landscape. Whatever the case, we continue to be guided by our belief in high-quality products and authentic stories. In our view, that is the backbone of the industry, now and in the future.
What are the most popular categories for which you provide packaging solutions?
AA: Bourbon and whiskey continue to be strong growth markets; however, we provide packaging for all types of spirits including gin, tequila, vodka and beyond. Our spirits packaging experts work closely with all sizes of companies from the big multi-national companies to the smallest craft producers. We love working in this space and live to help our spirits customers find the perfect packaging solutions.
What are the key challenges of establishing a whiskey brand amidst so many more high-profile brands?
MM: It’s a crowded market, but we believe there is always room for brands that are defined by high-quality products and authentic stories. We approach the market the same way we approach our whiskey—honestly and organically. 291 is Colorado whiskey, and we are proud to have built our roots working with the local bars, restaurants and retailers; and serving the people of Colorado. We are also excited about promoting Colorado whiskey nationally and internationally as we grow. In terms of our approach to the market, we bring a little bit of our rebellious spirit to the business environment. 291 is not so much about standard practices as we are about creative approaches to business relationships and whiskey experiences.
What are the biggest questions you get from craft spirits producers?
AA: Craft spirits producers are very concerned about lead times as some suppliers can be either unresponsive or unclear with expectations. Partnering with Berlin Packaging alleviates these concerns because of our dedication to our P.O.K.E.R. (Proactive, On-Time, Knowledgeable, Easy, Responsive) culture. Craft distillers also want to know if we can provide complete packaging solutions. With a network of more than 900 domestic and global manufacturer partners, Berlin Packaging not only provides you a complete packaging solution, but also provides extensive packaging expertise in design, engineering, branding and quality assurance.
What are your thoughts on the regionality of spirits?
MM: The growth in the overall industry is exciting. Of course, there will be some big winners that will carry their brands well nationally and internationally. We are certainly proud to point out that Whisky Magazinefound the best rye whiskey in the world here in Colorado for each of the past two years. That said, most of the new distillers are local and small businesses. In our opinion, the regionality is great for the industry. It allows each area to develop its own identity and brands, which is good for the local markets. It also makes for great experiences when whiskey drinkers can explore and discover the best that each market has to offer.
Rye has been on fire over the past few years. Where do you see the category going?
MM: Rye Whiskey had been overlooked for a long time, but now we are seeing growth and innovation in the category, and we expect those trends to continue. Rye is especially well suited for new developments because its flavor profile is complex and it is not constrained by as many rules and guidelines as bourbon. As with the overall whiskey category, there is plenty of room for experimentation with respect to recipes, barrel types, and aging practices. For 291, the key is to make sure that the rye ingredient is always the focal point of the experience—from nose to finish.
A Word of Caution
Recently you may have received an email from a marketing group(s), alerting you to an offer from ACSA to obtain a list of attendees for your marketing and sales initiatives. This was neither authorized, sanctioned nor known to ACSA prior to its delivery. ACSA has no relationship with Global EXPO LIST. To be clear, ACSA does NOT sell your data to outside parties as we hold confidential your membership contact information.
Did You Know?
The TTB has issued 2,636 DSPs! Find the full list here.
Henry Clay (1777-1852), who served in the House of Representatives, Senate and as Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams, is widely credited with popularizing the Mint Julep. He introduced it to the nation’s capital at the Willard Hotel’s legendary Round Robin bar. Exactly 80 years ago Churchill Downs began promoting it as the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby.
The Julep is not the only game in town. Check out these Derby Day cocktails via Town & Country.