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:
About this time of year, I’m particularly melancholy. I think about all those items on my To Do List that did not get done. I ruminate on all those invitations I meant to extend but did not. I stress over the lost opportunities that came and went.
Then, I do something simple: I breathe. I take a moment, reviewing what has been accomplished and begin to look forward to what’s up ahead. 2018 wasn’t so bad.
And, for ACSA, there’s plenty in 2019 to eagerly await!
It’s hard to believe that our 6th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show is just six weeks away. There’s still time to register for the convention, as well as the pre-convention Master Classes. Please note that the discount room block closes on January 18. Hope to see you in Minneapolis!
Also, if you’re interested in running for five open positions on our Board of Directors, let us know no later than January 14!
We’re also excited to announce the dates and location our next Regional Safety Education Program: March 7 and 8 in Orlando, Florida. It’s a great opportunity if you live in the Southeast or you just want to escape the winter weather for a couple of days! Details are below.
I was reminded recently about industry startup statistics, reporting that as a whole, beverage manufacturing is among those with depressing numbers accounting for only .8 percent of a net profit margin. Working together, whether its participating in educational programs at our convention or regional education programs, learning during our webinars, evaluating spirits during our judging of craft spirits, networking during our socials and/or forums, or activating to fight for a continued reduction in the FET, we can move the dial to strengthen our craft spirits industry.
Here’s wishing you and the entire distilling community a Happy and Healthy 2019! We’ve lots to be thankful for with even more opportunities to realize in the year ahead.
Cheers to the New Year!
Book Now! ACSA Convention Room Block Expires January 18!
And Don’t Forget to Arrive Early for These Pre-Convention Master Classes
We will be hosting two Master Classes just prior to the official start of the Minneapolis convention. Each will require a separate ticket to attend. Lallemand will be held on Saturday, Feb. 9 from 8 am-5pm and ISTS will be held on Saturday and Sunday (Feb 9 and 10) from 8am-5 pm.
Join ISTS, the presenters of our “Distillery Safety Management 101” class to learn safety best practices for your DSP—from production to warehousing. ISTS has tailored a program to cover the safety concerns specific to distilleries. What can you expect to learn? OSHA reporting and expectations, common errors in distilleries, how to implement safety culture in a distillery and much, much more!
For over 35 years, Lallemand has been educating fuel ethanol and distilled beverage producers in the multidisciplinary sciences of alcohol production. The course is designed to provide our delegates with detailed information on beverage alcohol unit processes. The program is designed for lab, plan and management personnel and are organized around lectures, laboratory demonstrations, seminars and lab visits. Our course is also appropriate for suppliers and government personnel to provide understanding and training. This important resource is becoming more valuable every year as the market growth is making the need for continual education a must.
There are multiple ACSA Convention & Vendor Trade Show sponsorship opportunities still available to suit a wide range of marketing budgets. A sponsorship is an excellent opportunity to amplify your presence and further establish your credibility as a thought leader in the craft spirits industry, enhance your brand image and industry position, build new relationships with prospective customers and strengthen relationships with existing ones and expand your business opportunities. As a new benefit this year, we’re offering sponsors the opportunity showcase your products & services in sponsor-led live “TED Talks.” Those opportunities are limited to top-dollar sponsors. Come out from behind the booth to see and hear how your competitors position their products & services in an interactive sponsors-only program.
We can customize a package and work with you to maximum exposure and return on your investment.
As of this writing, the 115th Congress will conclude on January 3, and a new Congress will be sworn in that day at 12 Noon. The election on November 6, 2018 certainly brought about significant changes that will impact the Federal Excise Tax (FET) debate in the next Congress.
There existed the potential for year-end tax legislation and ACSA was looking at this as a vehicle to extend our FET tax treatment. Our Association, along with the other major beer, wine, spirits and cider groups signed a letter to Senators McConnell (R-KY) and Schumer (D-NY) requesting that in any final tax bill, our FET issue be addressed. The lower FET for craft producers is set to expire at the end of 2019. It now appears, however, that with a few days left, the Congress will not address tax legislation in 2019, which means we will start anew in 2019.
The new Congress will look different next year. The Democrats picked up 40 House seats. They needed only 23 to gain a majority, so they will have a comfortable working majority in the House. The GOP picked up a net two Senate seats, so the new balance of power in the Senate will be 53 to 47 in favor of Republicans.
As for the House, one of those defeated on the GOP side was Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) who was the lead sponsor of H.R. 747, the House bill that would permanently lower our FET from $13.50 to $2.70 for those producing less than 100,000 proof gallons. Ironically, his opponent, Dean Phillips, has had family in the distilling business. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) will remain on the Ways and Means Committee, but he will not be the Chairman. He will have the title of Ranking Member.
The House Ways and Means Committee, which handles all tax bills, will have a new Chairman, Richard Neal (D-MA). Rep. Neal was a supporter and co-sponsor of HR. 747. Rep. Neal has served in the Congress for nearly three decades and is a well-liked and respected member. Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin was the lead Democrat on H.R. 747 in the last two Congresses. We expect that he will be the lead Democrat on our legislation in the next Congress. As a reminder, we had over 300 co-sponsors in the House last Congress and we will want to repeat that success. ACSA will be meeting with Rep. Kind and other key supporters in early January.
In the Senate, with the retirement of Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT), Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa will take over as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Wyden of Oregon will continue as the top Democrat on Senate Finance. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) remains in the Senate and moves up in the GOP leadership ladder.
We are working with Senators Wyden and Blunt, Congressman Kind and others to have legislation re-introduced in the Senate and the House in January that would make our FET reduction permanent.
Looking ahead to 2019, our industry will again have to kick into high gear very quickly and engage in significant grass roots to get the Senate and House to support an extension of the lower FET for craft producers. While we feel good about our prospects, 2019 will be a year of working hard to ensure our success.
First Regional Education Program of 2019: Distillery Safety Management 101 in Orlando, Florida
Requirements of written policies (what OSHA expects)
Elements of a safety management program
Regulatory training requirements
Auditing and assessment skills
General OSHA compliance
Here is what past registrants in Ohio, during the June 2018 program, are saying about Distillery Safety Management 101:
“I thought it was exceptionally well done and I learned a lot, coming back inspired, invigorated, and ready to make our workplace safer and more compliant. ISTS did an amazing job, I really can’t say enough.”
“I thought the training was extremely useful and I’d recommend it, along with any other ACSA seminar to anyone.”
Last Call for ACSA Board of Directors Nominations: Final Deadline
is January 14
The Call for Nominations for ACSA Board of Directors will close in two weeks. Nominations are open to all qualified DSP members of ACSA to fill five positions on its Board of Directors. The final deadline for nominations is Monday, January 14.
The successful candidates will help govern the association, one that is dedicated to elevating and advocating for the community of craft spirits producers.
The successful candidates will replace the following outgoing members whose terms will expire:
Mark Shilling, Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling Co.; Dan Garrison, Garrison Brothers Distillery; P.T. Wood, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery [Central/Mountain Region]; Orlin Sorensen, Woodinville Whiskey Company; Melkon Khosrovian, Greenbar Distillery [Pacific Region]. All elected will serve on the ACSA Board of Directors for three years, with staggered yearly terms, for the 15-person board (plus ex officio members). Positions are open across the country in each of the three regions.
Interested parties should contact Election Chair, Renee Bemis, Driftless Glen, located in Wisconsin, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may self-nominate or be suggested by another member of our craft spirits community. Renee will contact you for additional information so please supply relevant contact information.
You will have the opportunity to address the membership with a statement of your candidacy on Tuesday morning, February 12th, during ACSA’s national convention. Photos will also be taken there to support your ballot during our national elections. Those will take place in March with successful candidates announced shortly thereafter.
Benefits of serving as a volunteer leader include:
Having an opportunity to enhance the value of ACSA and the craft spirits community
Accessing up-to-date information about the challenges facing the alcohol industry
Exchanging ideas and perspectives with other DSPs
Desired attributes for the ideal candidates include:
Being committed and aligned with ACSA as a DSP voting member in good standing
Possessing relevant expertise in the disciplines of organizational management. Examples include: marketing, fundraising, guild or chapter relations, finance, lobbying, export, and strategic supplier alliances
Committing to participate in 3-4 board meetings a year via teleconference and 1-2 in-person meetings. ACSA board members are asked to provide leadership support to legislative affairs, membership, education, convention, judging of craft spirits and special events and/or campaigns
Demonstrating positive leadership attributes, including but not limited to emotional intelligence, ability to work collaboratively and engage in appropriate debate and discussion when needed
Being a visionary and strategic thinker as ACSA enhances membership services and benefits
SPIRITED RESPONSE: MONTHLY POLL
What will be the most buzzed-about spirits category in 2019?
Earlier this month, distillers in Louisiana met with the Lieutenant Gov. Billy Nungesser to brainstorm ideas for a possible Louisiana Distillery Trail. Here’s what that could look like.
New Orleans, long the home of Tales of the Cocktail, has been cultivating a local distilling scene in its own right. Seven Three Distilling Co. Gentilly Gin, Marigny Moonshine, St. Roch Vodka and St. Roch Cucumber Flavored Vodka are among Seven Three’s clear offerings. The distillery also will soon release a white rum, Black Pearl, made from Louisiana sugarcane. Its portfolio also includes Irish Channel, a blended, Irish-style American whiskey. Coming soon: Bywater Bourbon.
Celebration Distillation is the company behind Old New Orleans Rum and its many iterations: Crystal, 121 Proof, Cajun Spice and bourbon-barrel-aged Amber, as well as the ready-to-drink rum cocktail, Gingeroo. Two-year-old Roulaison Distilling is the brainchild of a pair of University of Pennsylvania alumni—one of whom was also an alum of New York’s Kings County Distillery—and another operation that specializes in rum. The portfolio includes Traditional Pot Distilled Rum, Overproof, Amer Herbal Rum Liqueur and Aged Rum. Crescent Vodka was Cajun Spirits Distillery’s inaugural product in 2015, but its offerings have expanded to include Tresillo Rum and 3rd Ward Gin. Atelier Vie gets back to the city’s storied roots with a pair of absinthes: Toulouse Green Absinthe Verte and Toulouse Red Absinthe Rouge, as well as Euphrosine Gin #9 and the gin’s Barrel-Finished Reserve. Also, keep an eye out for Happy Raptor Distilling, due to open in the Big Easy this spring.
Louisiana Spirits, founded in 2011, is best known as the distillery behind Bayou Rum. The company’s distillery and visitor center in Lacassine, Louisiana is open seven days a week, with tours six times a day. Louisiana Spirits, now a subsidiary of SPI Group, crafts Bayou Rum from locally grown sugarcane.
In the state capital, Baton Rouge, Cane Land Distilling calls itself “Louisiana’s Single Estate Distillery,” making a wide array of sugarcane-based spirits, including White Rum, Spiced Rum, Dark Rum, Rhum Agricole and Red Stick cinnamon-flavored rum. Baton Rouge Distilling bucks the Louisiana trend a bit by making fruit brandy—a Strawberry Brandy in particular. The distillery also is working on a yet-to-be-released bourbon.
We showcase notable books of interest to the craft spirits community.
The Mixology of Astrology: Cosmic Cocktail Recipes for Every Sign
Author: Aliza Kelly Faragher
Publisher: Adams Media
The stars align for Allure Magazine’s favorite astrologer, who crafted this tome matching each sign of the Zodiac with its own mixed drinks. Demystify both the stars and the drink menu with these simple guidelines. Try a French 75 for balanced Libra, suggest something adventurous for carefree Sagittarius, or stick to a classic with an Old Fashioned for Capricorn. When your friends wonder how you always know their perfect drink, you can just tell them it was written in the stars…
“Here’s a fun gift for the friend who checks their horoscope daily. Categorized by astrological sign, the cocktails are mostly familiar easy-to-make classics, including some ‘modern classics’ like the Gold Rush and Cosmopolitan.” —Liquor.com
Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music & Mixed Drinks
Authors: Andre Darlington and Tenaya Darlington
Publisher: Running Press
From modern craft cocktails to old standbys, prepare to shake, stir, and just plain pour your way through some of the best wax ever pressed. Wickedly designed and featuring photography throughout, Booze & Vinyl is organized by mood, from Rock to Chill, Dance, and Seduce. Each entry has liner notes that underscore the album’s musical highlights and accompanying “Side A” and “Side B” cocktail recipes that complement the music’s mood, imagery in the lyrics, or connect the drink to the artist. This is your guide to a rich listening session for one, two or more.
“This is the Best Damn Drink/Music Book on the Planet….We’re naturally excited about the new book by the brother and sister team of Andre and Tenaya Darlington, which pairs 70 seminal albums from the 1950s through the 2000s with A- and B-side cocktails.”
Late last month, the TTB released its long-awaited proposed rulemaking to modernize labels and advertising. You should have received via e-mail ACSA’s request for your feedback on the proposed changes. ACSA’s Legislative Affairs Committee, together with its Board of Directors, will offer a thorough, thoughtful ACSA commentary but ONLY AFTER we hear from you, via the feedback form. The deadline for your feedback is January 7. Mark Shilling of Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling Co. and Nicole Austin of Cascade Hollow Distillery have been leading ACSA’s effort and we asked them to offer their guidance and insights on the process.
What are the most important things members need to know about the proposed rulemaking changes?
Nicole Austin: The most important thing to understand about this proposed rulemaking is that it is complex and extensive. There are high-profile proposals (such as barrel size requirements), but also a lot of more “inside baseball” changes that have the potential to greatly impact their business in unexpected ways in areas like exports and FDA approvals. My number-one recommendation is read the whole thing.
Mark Shilling: The single most important thing to know is that this is a process, not a vote. TTB has proposed a set of rules based on a wide range of input. Many of the changes aren’t changes at all, but rather an effort to move decades of TTB practices, policies and interpretations directly into the rules. Others are an attempt to capture and codify the changing beverage alcohol world in a way that is suitable to the ‘modern’ market, and still others are simply contemplations about what things might make for better support to a modern, innovative and rapidly expanding industry. Nothing in the proposal is a done deal, and TTB is looking for honest, solid and thoughtful comments on how the proposed rules might affect both producers and consumers. Our feedback should not be a simple “yes, this is good” or “no, this is bad.” We need to convey the impact, and in cases where we believe they are wrong, offer reasoned and deliberate alternatives (or justify not making a change at all.)
Why is it important for members to provide their feedback?
N.A.: ACSA will be combing the proposed rulemaking for items of interest to our membership and generating positions that we think best elevate and protect the craft spirits community, but no one knows your business better than you. If there’s an item of interest or concern in the proposed rulemaking, you are in the best position to tell us how it could impact your business.
M.S.: Publishing the proposal is not just for show. TTB is absolutely looking for our input, and as long as we provide effective, meaningful comments that do not conflict with the TTB mission, we will be heard and given utmost consideration.
What’s the best way they can learn more about it?
M.S.: The best way to learn more is to find a quiet spot and read the entire proposal. It is divided into parts with the first part being an explanation of the proposed changes, and then the various parts for wine, spirits, beer, and then marketing. Read it, think about it, talk with your colleagues. The best way to work through it is to discuss it. Participate in the forum discussion on the ACSA website, or call us.
N.A.: ACSA will be sharing guidance documents and positions throughout our comment-generating process, as well as hosting a forum at the convention in February. Read your emails and attend the convention!
What should be included in member feedback, what form should it take and how will it get to TTB?
M.S.: Add your comments via the online form. We will read, discuss, compile and present to TTB. As I mentioned above, it’s not a vote and TTB will not make decisions based on the number of comments they receive about any given section. They will make decisions based on the quality of the comments and their ultimate support of the TTB mission of insuring honest and accurate information to the consumer.
N.A.: The member feedback collected through the survey, as well as feedback from the Legislative Committee directly, will be presented to the ACSA Board of Directors to support the generation of draft comments. These will be discussed in the member forum at the convention in February, after which final comments will be generated and approved by the Board prior to submission to the TTB via the public comment submission process. Individual businesses may also submit comments through the TTB’s public comment portal.
Welcome Newest Voting and Affiliate Members!
ACSA extends a warm welcome to a few of our newest members: