To elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers.
From the Desk of Margie A.S. Lehrman, Executive Director
Dear Friends in Our Craft Spirits Community:
Ever hear the term “Edit Your Life”?
Recently I was reminded about the need to be both focused and disciplined to remove those non-essential tasks/projects/activities. Sometimes, in an effort to do it all, we pay a cost.
So how do you decide what is important? How do you determine how to spend your days? How do you calibrate ROI?
ACSA continuously evaluates what might be most important for you, our members. In fact, next month, look for and complete a member survey to help us identify how we use our staff and financial resources to best service your needs.
Here’s your action items for this month; we’ve made it simple.
To help you better focus and run your business, register for the Distillery Safety Management 101 Program, designed to guide operations at your facility (and direct your people), consistent with best safety practices. There is perhaps no other offering as important as this class. The big brands pay large dollars for the content that we deliver to you at a fraction of the cost. Why?
Because it gravely matters. Can you afford to miss this? Having a strong safety program at your distillery is priceless, right?
Have you registered for the 2019 convention yet? We offer the most comprehensive technical educational programs for both the novice and experienced craft distiller. Don’t go it alone but learn from the experts. Once your product is perfected (is it really ever though?) we show you how to market and distribute to increase revenue streams. Perhaps most import is giving you the time (and social networking opportunities) to sip a cocktail and learn from one another. New this year during our Craft on Ice is HOCKEY! Come play against our industry members and/or watch how the pros get it done.
Stay informed , while getting to know the ACSA Board of Directors. We continue our series of new Board member Q&As this month with Ryan Christiansen of Caledonia Spirits.
While we’ll continue to focus on your professional life, it’s up to you to look at your personal self. A staff retreat (see our team building exercise) gave us time to reflect on balance and how we might achieve the same.
Registration is now open for the 6th Annual Distillers’ Convention & Vendor Trade Show at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. Join fellow producers and other industry experts for the largest gathering of licensed craft spirits producers in the U.S. Register now to take advantage of our early-bird registration rates and discount room block!
Additionally, exhibitor registration is now open for those who wish to exhibit at the vendor trade show. We offer 8’x10′ single booths and 8’x20′ double booths where suppliers to the industry can showcase their products, services and solutions before a gathering of craft spirits producers from across the country.
Our American Craft Spirits Association members have a duty to the craft community and the public to be honest, ethical, and accountable producers and promoters of quality spirits. ACSA members must strive to produce the finest quality products while also raising the bar for transparency and accountability in the spirits market. Deceptive marketing, repackaged low-quality products, and spurious claims of authenticity blur the already crowded spirits market and make it difficult for consumers to find products aligned with their tastes and interests.
ACSA members believe that our marketing and promotions should be honest and clear, and our production processes should precisely mirror any claims about what’s in the bottle. Distilled spirits production is a highly regulated industry, and ACSA works closely with regulators to provide members with accurate information, via our year-round educational offerings, to assist members in compliance with federal rules.
ACSA members are further committed to additional self-regulation as each member distillery agrees to our code of ethics, which includes a review by an ethics committee of their peers to resolve any issues relating to the integrity of their products or practices.
We are very happy to announce that our newly designed ACSA website now allows complaints about a member company to be filed through a simple and confidential online form right on the website that only takes minutes to fill out.
Please explore the new ACSA website as this is just one of the many new upgrades now available.
Your ACSA Team Takes to the Hills
In early August, ACSA held its staff retreat in Fayetteville, West Virginia. We dug deep to find a collective vision on how we plan for and execute the goals in ACSA’s Strategic Plan, specifically: 1. Building Membership; 2. Improve Governance ; 3. Drive brand awareness and political clout ; 4.Promote/create favorable environment for members. After hours of flow charting and brainstorming and identifying those things that fuel ACSA’s DNA, we took time to “relax” on a two-foot catwalk over a river gorge some 850 plus feet below where we were walking (cabled to the iron bridge above). Can you match the shoes to our team of Margie, Teresa, Kirstin or Carason?
Mark your calendars for these upcoming educational opportunities!
CRAFT SPIRITS CLASSROOM:
Quenching Your Thirst for Knowledge
Webinar Today : Important Considerations When Negotiating a Distillery Lease
Join us August 29 (TODAY!) at 3 p.m. EDT as attorney Cozette Tran-Caffee addresses “Important considerations when negotiating a distillery lease,” including:
Pre-lease/site selection issues (finding the right site, with the right neighbors)
General tenant-side lease concerns (protecting your right to stay, negotiating your freedom to leave)
Industry specific concerns (satisfying the local, state, and federal authorities)
Unexpected circumstances (protecting your rights when natural, human, or governmental disaster strikes)
About the Presenter:
Cozette Tran-Caffee is experienced in land use, real estate and eminent domain matters, including land use entitlements for landowners and developers, as well as retailers and other end users. Tran-Caffee works to obtain practical, creative and cost-effective solutions for her clients as they navigate the regulatory process. She provides a full range of land use services, including:
Annexation and other boundary changes,
Comprehensive Plan Map and Zoning Map amendments,
Land divisions, including subdivisions, partitions and property line adjustments,
Land use due diligence and other pre-purchase or pre-development issues,
Master planning and amendments,
Measure 49 home site approval, and
Site plan review, development review and design review.
Prior to becoming an attorney, Tran-Caffee served as a Policy Consultant for the City of San Jose Housing Department, where she advised on housing policy. She also worked on planning and housing issues in the nonprofit sector. This experience coupled with her master’s degree in public policy plays an integral part in her legal practice.
When: August 29, 2018 3-4 p.m. EDT
Where : Online Webinar
Who : Cozette Tran-Caffee, Attorney, Lane Powell
How Much: $39 for ACSA members and $59 for non-members. To receive the member discount make sure you’re logged in at AmericanCraftSpirits.org.
Time’s Running Out! Register for ACSA Regional Safety Education Program in Long Beach
Join us as we head to Long Beach, California for our next Regional Education Program, Thursday, September 6 to Friday, September 7. ACSA has partnered with Industrial Safety and Training Services to present “Distillery Safety Management 101.” Learn about hazard recognition, requirements of written policies, regulatory training, general OSHA compliance and much more over the course of two days. The registration fee is $399 for ACSA members and $699 for non-members . The fee for any additional participants from your company is $299 for members and $529 for non-members.
Mark your calendars for the East Coast edition of “Distillery Safety Management 101,” November 14 & 15 in Orlando, Florida. We will be announcing registration and accommodations information very soon.
ACSA Members Are the Toast of La La Land at BevCon 2018
ACSA member distilleries were among the star attractions at last week at BevCon, the fast-growing, industry-only event that brings together professional bartenders, sommeliers, buyers, beverage producers, distributors, importers, media, marketing and public relations professionals from across the U.S. and abroad. BevCon launched in Charleston, South Carolina, two years ago but moved to Los Angeles for the 2018 edition.
Participating members included Backwards Distilling Co. (Mills, Wyoming), Blinking Owl Distillery (Santa Ana, California), Caledonia Spirits (Hardwick, Vermont), CALI Distillery (Los Angeles, California) Copper & Kings American Brandy Company (Louisville, Kentucky), FEW Spirits (Evanston, Illinois), House Spirits Distillery (Portland, Oregon), Osocalis Distillery (Soquel, California) Wigle Whiskey (Pittsburgh, PA) and Republic Restoratives (Washington, D.C.).
Backwards Distilling, Blinking Owl Distillery, CALI Distillery and Republic Restoratives had the added distinction of having won the ACSA raffle for slots at two separate tasting events.
On Sunday, August 19, teams from Backwards Distilling and Republic Restoratives served up cocktails showcasing their spirits at one of BevCon’s on-site bars. Backwards poured the Miss E. Callhoun, whose recipe combined the distillery’s Milk Can Cinnamon Moonshine with blackberry and lemon; Three Brazilian Tigers, with Backwards Contortionist Gin, lime and condensed milk and Feats of Strength, with Strongman Gin, Pineapple Juice, lime juice, simple syrup and black pepper. Republic Restoratives offered a variety of concoctions with its CIVIC Vodka, Borough Bourbon, Rodham Rye and Chapmans Apple Brandy.
It was a particularly opportune moment for Republic, as the company will begin distributing its products in the California market October 1. “This really is a perfectly timed event for us,” says Whit Kathner, national sales director for Republic Restoratives. “ACSA had their awesome raffle, so we were lucky enough to get one of the tasting bars and to be here today. It was a great introduction for us.”
Republic Restoratives’ on-site bar manager Britt Ingals found great value in the interactions with others in the bar community. “For me, it’s been a fantastic educational opportunity to connect with speakers and other people in the industry, putting our heads together and working on solving the same problems,” Ingals says. “It’s a nice way to not have to reinvent the wheel, seeing how other people are working stuff out.”
The education program featured presenters from a number of ACSA member distilleries, including Christian Krogstad, Erin Hayes and Jordan Felix from House Spirits; Joe Heron from Copper & Kings, Dan Farber from Osocalis Distillery, Paul Hletko of FEW Spirits and Teresa De Flitch from Wigle Whiskey.
Blinking Owl and CALI Distillery poured their spirits at the Tuesday, April 21 edition of Meet the Makers —the spirits-focused tasting event, following Monday’s wine-and-beer-centric installment.
Blinking Owl, the first legal distillery in California’s Orange County since Prohibition, showcased its Vodka, OC Orange Vodka, Gin, Old Tom Gin and Aquavit.
“We’re taking a very wine-maker-driven approach to our spirits, in terms of terroir, and we’re trying to represent the state where we distill everything,” says Blinking Owl founder & CEO Brian Christenson.
Aquavit is still a largely unknown category for most American consumers, but Christenson says that’s changing, thanks in part to events like BevCon. “We’re definitely seeing it grow—it’s our most popular product today,” Christenson says.
CALI Distillery’s brand manager Chris Diedwardo sampled a wide selection of spirits from CALI’s portfolio, including CALI California Sipping Whiskey, Riptide Cask Strength Rye Whiskey, Mavericks Doublewood Small Batch American Whiskey, Sukkah Hill Spirits Etrog Liqueur, Sukkah Hills Spirits Besamim Liqueur and Mavericks Eighty Eight.
“What we’re hoping to do here is connect with industry professionals and help expand our footprint, essentially, whether it be the L.A. area or people who are traveling from out of state,” Diedwardo says.
“All of the vendors and all of the suppliers have been very friendly. Everybody seems to be on the same page. I always like doing these events—they’re just a great place to meet people and taste some new things.”
Regional Focus: Maine
Spirits and maritime culture have, for centuries, gone hand in hand, so it’s no surprise that Maine’s distilling scene has been making waves (see what we did there?)
The big news coming out of Wiggly Bridge Distillery this year was that the York-based producer filled its 500 th barrel back it May at a ceremony that allowed ticket holders access to bottles of that barrel’s bourbon, once it’s released in 2022. In addition to whiskey, the distillery also produces rum, vodka and gin.
North of York, in Biddeford, Round Turn Distilling has been racking up the medals for its Bimini Gin, whose name was inspired by an old Ernest Hemingway haunt in the Bahamas. Founder Darren Case crafts Bimini in a 150-year-old building that was once a textile mill about five miles from the coast.
Head a little farther up that coast and you’ll reach Maine’s most populous city, Portland, home to Stroudwater Distillery, another producer that makes good use of a repurposed industrial building from the nineteenth century—in this case an old brick train depot. Two full bars in the spacious, 1,800-square-foot tasting room serve up the distillery’s vodka, gin, bourbon, rye and rum. Stroudwater is part of a mini craft beverage district of sorts, as it’s neighbors with Bissel Brothers Brewery and Cellardoor Winery.
Portland’s also home to one of two locations for Maine Craft Distilling (the other its its tasting room in nearby Freeport). The distillery and bar in the city covers most of the major spirits categories with its farm-to-flask products. Among those are Fifty Stone Single Malt Whiskey, distilled in the fashion of a Highland Scotch whiskey, Blueshine Blueberry Moonshine and Black Cap unaged barley-based spirit, as Queequeg Spiced Rum and Ration Expedition-Style Rum.
Rum just happens to be the core focus of Sebago Lake Distillery, in the town of Gardiner, about 30 miles north of Maine Craft Distilling’s Freeport tasting room. Flagships include Original Rum, the dark, molasses-forward Spider Island Rum and KOPI Coffee-Flavored Rum, which infuses custom-roasted Indonesian Sumatra beans.
Maine—particularly Portland—is home to some well-known cocktail bars, as well. The eclectic small plates at Central Provisions have landed it on many restaurant best-of lists, but lately, it’s been attracting as much attention for its expertly crafted cocktails. The same goes for Bramhall, which offers more of a speakeasy-type setting.
Five year-old Portland Hunt + Alpine Club offers a robust mixed drink list, combined with an innovative menu of Scandinavian-inspired favorites. The team behind the venue also put together the coobook, “Northern Hospitality: A Celebration of Cocktails, Cooking and Coming Together.”
In this new monthly feature, we showcase notable books of interest to the craft spirits community.
The Drunken Botanist
Author: Amy Stewart
Publisher: Alqonquin Books
In The Drunken Botanist , Amy Stewart explores the dizzying array of herbs, flowers, trees, fruits and fungi that humans have, through ingenuity, inspiration, and sheer desperation, contrived to transform into alcohol over the centuries. Of all the extraordinary and obscure plants that have been fermented and distilled, a few are dangerous, some are downright bizarre and one is as ancient as dinosaurs—but each represents a unique cultural contribution to our global drinking traditions and our history.
“Many boozy books have been published over the years, spilling over with fun facts about absinthe, grog and bathtub gin. What make s Stewart’s book different is her infectious enthusiasm for the plants, their uses, their history and the botanists who roamed the earth finding them. The result is intoxicating but in a fresh, happy, healthy way.”
Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum & the Cult of Tiki
Author: Martin and Rebecca Cate
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Martin and Rebecca Cate, founders and owners of San Francisco tiki bar Smuggler’s Cove, take you on a colorful journey into the lore and legend of tiki: its birth as an escapist fantasy for Depression-era Americans; how exotic cocktails were invented, stolen, and re-invented; Hollywood starlets and scandals; and tiki’s modern-day revival, in this James Beard Award-winning cocktail book.
“Martin and Rebecca Cate are alchemists—Reyn Spooner–wearing, volcano-bowl-igniting, Polynesian-popping, double-straining, Aku-Aku swilling alchemists. Which is to say, they are the finest kind of alchemists known to walk the earth. Buy this book. It will bring you a little bit closer to paradise.”
—Wayne Curtis, author, And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
We continue our series of conversations with the newest members of the ACSA Board of Directors, focusing on some of the key issues the organization will be facing in the coming years. This month, Ryan Christiansen ( Caledonia Spirits) offers his insights.
Tell us what motivated you to get involved as an ACSA board member?
Ryan Christiansen: The ACSA has been an important resource and network for me since the inception of the organization. It’s an organization that has delivered so much to me and my team, that it felt important that I give back. Getting involved at the board level felt like a great way to accomplish this.
Aside from making FET reduction permanent, what do you see as some of the board’s big priorities over the next couple of years?
The board has several committees, all with their own projects and priorities. Speaking on behalf of the Development Committee, I see great sponsorship opportunity, and other ways to bring financial support to the group. These resources are vital to the organizational budgeting, and ultimately member experience. Our priority on the Development Committee is to build meaningful relationships with current sponsors, and identify new ways to bring resources to the organization.
What are the best ACSA strategies for engaging with members and reaching out to potential new members?
The best strategy for the ACSA is to continue to deliver more to its members. The clarity of mission, quality of content and openness among members makes the ACSA the premier resource for new and existing DSPs. In my opinion, the word-of-mouth advertising that stems from this is the greatest driver of access to new members.
How can ACSA members and prospective members get more involved with the organization?
The first step is to become a member and attend the convention. Attending the convention will be the highlight of the year for anybody new to the industry. It’s a great way to meet fellow distillers, the ACSA staff and ACSA board.
What are the big craft spirits trends that you see in the next couple of years?
I’m happy to see the growing popularity of farmer-distiller relationships. Our company began on a dream to incorporate the challenging agricultural practice of beekeeping into distilling. So the importance of our farmers is part of our company’s DNA. It’s exciting for me to travel around the country and see this becoming evermore important to the cocktail community.
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 email@example.com and be sure to include the subject line “2017 Annual Report.” Also, the report is now available for download in PDF form at the ACSA website.
The TTB has issued 2,745 DSPs! Find the full list here.
Bourbon, rye and Tennessee whiskey have become the poster children for American distilling traditions, but most acknowledge that in Colonial times, rum was the significant tipple of choice. However, the spirit that was truly an American original—using raw materials grown on American soil and not imported, as molasses was, from tropical islands—was apple brandy. Its presence in the Colonies is believed to date back to 1630. The best-known brand from the eighteenth century, Laird’s Applejack, continues to be produced today by the eighth, ninth and tenth generation of the founding family. And you’ve heard of Johnny Appleseed, right? He wasn’t planting trees because he wanted to make pies. He had something much stronger in mind.
Summer’s not over yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start thinking about fall cocktails. Check out an extensive collection of autumnal sips from Town & Country.