To elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers.
From the Desk of Margie A.S. Lehrman, Executive Director
Dear Friend in our Industry:
This business is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it’s downright hard. Making a quality product might be easy compared with the other hurdles you face.
Just yesterday, ACSA was focused on learning how you are reinvesting your tax savings from the reduced FET. We need that information to continue to educate the Congress. Today, in addition to continuing our campaign to make that tax relief permanent, we’re evaluating and responding to how the trade war will impact your export business. There are still many unknowns, but we are making our voice heard that any effort to restrict market access is NOT okay.
ACSA continues to advocate on your behalf in other areas, too. The ACSA Safety and Education committees want to make sure your employees, equipment and product are kept safe. It’s your lastchance to register for the Distillery Safety Management 101, our inaugural regional program that takes place in Ohio but will soon be appearing in other parts of the country. And, don’t miss the Q & A with the primary sponsor of that program.
Key partners are critical to making businesses prosper. ACSA could not survive without the help of our incredible Cask and Barrel Strength Sponsors. We “met with” some members of the Cask Strength tier and generous donors (industry thought leaders) to find out what’s on their minds in our newly formed Advisory Council.
You can also find out about Bar Convent Brooklyn and how the American Craft Spirits “bar” introduced several member brands to thousands in the trade last week in NY.
While a challenging industry, there is proof that hard work can pay off. Read about a fellow distiller in the Big Sky Country.
And, keep watching your inbox because within the week, we should have two big announcements. Knowing the need to network more effectively and gain knowledge more quickly, our new website promises to fill these gaps. It’s been a long time coming BUT we think you’ll enjoy some of the new features, including member-only forums. We’re literally days away from the new release. In addition, the long-awaited 2019 Convention Announcement will be hitting your inbox.
Finally, in recognition of the hard work, dedication, and commitment of your ACSA staff, please note our summer hours: Doors close on Fridays at 1 pm until Labor Day to give a jump-start to the summer weekend. Don’t despair. We promise to enjoy a cocktail (or two) with fine American craft spirits and toast to you!
Craft Distillers Raise the Bar in Brooklyn
Last week, craft spirits producers connected with bar and restaurant owners and managers, bartenders, beverage directors and distributors at Bar Convent Brooklyn (BCB), the inaugural U.S.-based edition of Europe’s largest bar industry trade show, Bar Convent Berlin.
The two-day event, presented on June 12 and 13, provided a rare opportunity for craft distillers to showcase their world-class products in front of a vast cross-section of industry decision-makers, all under one roof. Six ACSA member distilleries gathered at the ACSA booth in the Brooklym Expo Center to share their spirits and stories with attendees from across the country and around the globe.
“We’re small so this is us sticking our heads out a little bit, poking into new markets and hopefully drumming up some new business,” noted ACSA President Chris Montana, owner and head distiller of Du Nord Craft Spirits in Minneapolis.
Du Nord gave attendees a taste of Mixed Blood Blended Whiskey, Fitzgerald Gin, Apple Liqueur and Frieda Coffee Liqueur.
“If we can get a success story out of this for any one brand here, that’s a huge win,” Montana said. “We’re taking small brands and pushing onto a much larger stage. Some of them might catch a spark.
Appalachian Gap Distillery (Middlebury, Vermont) was among the other producers hoping to make that connection, pouring samples from its eclectic portfolio, whose products distiller Taylor Sacco described as “a little bit tweaked” versions of classic spirits styles. In addition to the “new-world-style” Mythic Gin, Appalachian Gap showcased Papilio agave- and maple-syrup-based spirit, which Sacco said was “like an agave tequila with a little bit of a twist. Meanwhile, he called Ridgeline Barrel-Aged Whiskey a kind of “love child between bourbon and Irish whiskey.” Sacco also sampled Snowfall, a clear, unaged version of Ridgeline.
Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. (Louisville, Kentucky), which has been among the distilleries leading the charge in the American brandy renaissance, mixed cocktails with its Floodwall Apple Brandy, American Brandy, Butchertown Brandy American Dry Gin and Orange Curaçao.
Hamilton Distillers (Tucson, Arizona) offered at taste of Southwestern terroir in its Del Bac Dorado Mesquite-Smoked Single Malt, Del Bac Clear Mesquite Smoked Single Malt, Del Bac Classic Unsmoked Single Malt and Del Bac Distillers Cut Cask Strength Single Malt.
“I think it’s a great time for the category of American single malts because you’ve got a lot of younger drinkers acquainted with Scotch whisky,” offered Hamilton Distillers brand ambassador Nate Lithgow. “The conversation of ‘well, have you tried American single malt’ is a great conversation for the category to be having.”
Rum is having a bit of a moment as well and Maggie’s Farm Rum (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) demonstrated the versatility of the molasses-based spirit in its Spiced and Queen’s Share Rums, as well as its Coffee and Falernum rum-based liqueurs. Founder and owner Tim Russell revealed that BCB happened at an especially opportune time since Maggie’s Farm recently started distributing in the New York market.
“[BCB] has been a prime place to meet a lot of bar and restaurant managers, which I know is hard to do in New York,” Russell said. “This way, they can come to us instead of us having to go to them.”
And, as far as botanical spirits go, Round Turn Distilling ‘s (Biddeford, Maine) Hemingway-inspired Bimini Gin is proof that exciting things are happening within the vibrant American gin scene.
“I think there is a growing interest in gin as more people realize that it’s not a monolithic category,” said Round Turn owner/distiller Darren Case. “There’s a lot of variety and a lot of different recipes and flavors in the category.”
Introducing the ACSA Advisory Council
The ACSA Advisory Council was born on June 6, 2018. After welcoming remarks by Tom Mooney, (House Spirits) co-chair of ACSA’s Development Committee (together with Ryan Christensen from Caledonia Spirits) a spirited discussion ensued. Industry thought leaders shared views on the importance of ACSA’s data collection and the pivotal role ACSA plays in developing the craft spirits business. The members of ACSA’s Cask Strength tier, together with key suppliers and leaders of the industry, from labels and packaging to stills to closures to bottles to ingredients to distributors to financiers, provided solid advice on how ACSA can best support the industry as a whole. This group will regularly “meet” to collectively review the temperature of the industry and share ideas on how to push forward and alleviate hurdles where possible.
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 email@example.com 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 provide regular, in-house safety training?
Next week we’ll be kicking off our 2018 Regional Education Programs in Cincinnati with the two-day master class: ” Distillery Safety Management 101,” presented in partnership with Industrial Safety and Training Services . Learn about hazard recognition, requirements of written policies, regulatory training, general OSHA compliance and much more on June 27 and 28 at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. The registration fee is $399 for members and $699 for non-members . ACSA members can register an additional participant from their companies for $299 each. The additional-participant fee for non-members is $529. You won’t want to miss this intensive, two-day course that will provide you with the tools and techniques to ensure a safe operating environment. Register here . If you care about your people and your livelihood, you cannot afford to miss this program. (Special discounted room block at the Cincinnati Hilton expires on June 5th. REGISTER NOW!)
Regional Focus: Cincinnati
As we countdown to the Distillery Safety Management 101 master class in Cincinnati next week, let’s take a look at some of the spirited options throughout the southwestern Ohio city and its suburbs.
Northside Distilling Co. got its start in its namesake section of town but has since moved to the heart of downtown Cincinnati. White spirits, including Northside Shine, Corn Whiskey and Vodka, are the distillery’s bread and butter, but in November 2017 Northside released its first fully aged Bourbon. The distillery also offers a regular Bourbon 101 class to help enhance the public’s understanding of the iconic American spirit.
In the Cincinnati enclave of Norwood, Shumrick & Leys Distillery’s tasting bar features Keelhaul copper pot still rum, 2 Shot Double-Barrelled Straight Bourbon, 2 Shot Bourvin (bourbon finished in wine barrels) and Classified Vodka.
Fun fact: Woodstone Creek Winery & Distillery is a bit of a triple threat. In addition to being a distillery and a winery, it’s also a meadery. But its extremely small batch spirits like Ridge Runner 5-Grain, Barrelhouse, Cincinnati Vodka and Murray Cask Peated Single Malt Whisky, have gained a cult following in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati has the good fortune to border the Bluegrass State, so that means the city’s a stone’s throw from Kentucky bourbon distilleries. Among those is New Riff Distilling, the northernmost producer on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, located in the town of Newport. In addition to O.K.I. Straight Bourbon and Rye, New Riff markets New Make whiskeys—including a bourbon and rye—as well as gin.
Also on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River and about five miles from New Riff in the town of Ludlow, you’ll find Second Sight Spirits, best known for its diverse line of rums. Second Sight Unbarreled Rum, Spiced Rum and Bourbon Barreled Rum round out its roster. The tasting room is open Thursday through Saturday with tours on each of those days.
Drive about 20 minutes south of Second Sight and you’ll come across Boone County DistillingCo., known for the 120-proof Tanner’s Curse new make whiskey distilled from bourbon mash, as well as the 100-proof rye mash version. The Boone County portfolio also features 10-year-old and 12-year-old bourbons.
Cincinnati proper is home to a rapidly growing bar scene and among the establishments that have gained quite a following is the apothecary-themed Sundry and Vice in the city’s historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. In addition to an extensive list of house cocktails, the Sundry & Vice menu features a handful of options on draft, including an Old-Fashioned, Rye Boulevardier and a Strawberry Aperol Spritz.
At Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey, you can sip your favorite drink with what the bar and restaurant calls “a contemporary take on classic American frontier food.” The “Yukon” is a popular sandwich consisting of fried chicken, sawmill gravy, smoked cheddar and bacon, while the Sutter’s Mill promises barbeque short rib, apple slaw, house pickles and Boomtown’s bespoke barbeque sauce. And as you’d imagine, the whiskey list is quite lengthy, including more than 50 selections.
Downtown, Igby’s offers a sprawling, multi-story experience, occupying 7,500 square feet of a Civil War-era building, complete with fireplace, rustic wood-planked walls, exposed brick and, of course, craft mixology.
In this new monthly feature, we’ll showcase notable books of interest to the craft spirits community.
The Drinkable Globe:
The Indispensable Guide to the Wide World of Booze
Author: Jeff Cioletti
Publisher: Turner Publishing
Ever wonder what and how the rest of the world is drinking? Author Jeff Cioletti (“The Year of Drinking Adventurously” and “Beer FAQ”), former editor-in-chief of Beverage World magazine, details the past, present and future customs and cultures of imbibing across the globe and includes 130 cocktail recipes featuring indigenous ingredients from nearly every continent. “The Drinkable Globe” is one part drinks guide and one part travelogue, with a dash of geography lesson.
“This isn’t a well-traveled vinophile’s braggy biography or a showboat boasting about his boozy knowledge. This is a genuine lover of travel and a good drink exploring the world through his palate.” ― Glenn Dallas, San Francisco Book Review
Noted spirits writer Amanda Schuster, editor-in-chief of The Alcohol Professor, presents a guide to the best bars and cocktails New York City has to offer. You’ll get to know some of the Big Apple’s most celebrated mixologists and their signature creations, as well as their tips and techniques for bringing the party home.
“[The book] covers drinking in New York from every angle…New York Cocktails by Amanda Schuster is a story of the cocktail told through the city.”—Florence Fabricant, The New York Times
As we detailed last month in the Local Focus section, Montana is enjoying a bit of a distilling boom. Among those producers is Bozeman Spirits , known for its artisanal flavored vodkas, as well as gin, whiskey and rum. We recently chatted with Bozeman’s Jim Harris, who co-owns the distillery with wife Mary Pat, about the spirits scene in Big Sky Country.
Tell us about Bozeman Spirits and how you got into distilling.
Jim Harris: In 2012, Distilleries in Montana were just getting going. I was interested in producing a Montana Made product, made in Historic Downton Bozeman, as it had never been done. We jumped through a bunch of hoops with the city and they have been great supporters of manufacturing ever since. We opened in the fall of 2014 after almost two years of preparation and buildout. When we opened the door on Halloween, we had a vodka and a whiskey. By December we had figured out the recipe for the Huckleberry flavored vodka as well as our gin, which includes 12 botanicals all sourced locally. Thomas McGuane, head distiller, and myself began making all the products. As the business grew, we hired an assistant, Cortney, who can now run the entire distilling operation so I could focus on growth, sales, marketing…now a desk job…not as fun as the distilling! Hired my wife to come in and she now runs all the events and outside sales where we focus on Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and North Dakota. As a side note, if I had known all the people in craft distilling segment were so cool and fun to be around, I would have wanted to start a distillery just to be in the group. There are some amazing folks across the United States, all making unique craft spirits.
What’s your top-selling product?
J.H.: Our top-selling product is Cold Spring Huckleberry Flavored Vodka at 80 proof. Naturally flavored (secret recipe!) with no sugar added. The Huckleberry is a wild berry that grows in the northwest areas of the United States. Like a blueberry, but smaller and slightly tart. It’s a staple from jams to vodka here in Montana!
How would you characterize the growth of the Montana craft spirits scene?
J.H.: Montana is seeing positive growth with distilleries. Each year, more and more Montana Made spirits are displayed on the shelves in liquor stores. Our state liquor store sales are growing across the state (all distilleries). By the time we opened, we were the 9 th distillery to bottle hooch. There are now 19 open with a couple more in the works. The Montana Distillers Guild is taking a larger roll in helping create awareness across the state as well as work on legislative items that will help all of its members. Jobs, tax revenue and agriculture benefits put us along with breweries as the 2 nd fastest growing category in the state.
In addition to your vodkas, you have a gin and a rum. How do you see those categories progressing over the next few years?
J.H.: Since we have opened, all the products have seen growth. Our Montana 1889 whiskey follows as second behind the Huckleberry Vodka. We are small and have expansion plans underway with a newly purchased 20-acre property in Bozeman that will allow us to fill up to 5,500 square feet with more production and aged 1889 whiskey! We should see major growth in our whiskey portfolio in 2-3 years.
Gin and rum are gradually catching on and becoming more popular. Ruby River Gin is heavier with citrus than most, which allows non-typical gin drinkers to give it a try and become fans. It is one of my favorites and we have been told it is the best Gin in the northwest!
Describe some of the feedback you get from consumers.
J.H.: Since we are in Downtown Bozeman, a large part of our customer base are tourists who visit Montana in the winter to ski Big Sky and Bridger Bowl, to summer while visiting Yellowstone National Park. My favorite feedback is from a guy who was driving across Canada heading to Vancouver. A friend had given him a bottle of our Gin for Christmas. He was in Banff and realizes he is just north of Montana, sends me a message through Facebook and asks if we are open on Sunday. I tell him yes and he drives some 9 hours to come to the distillery tasting room to purchase more Gin! He could have stopped just across the border to get a bottle at the liquor store, but he really wanted to come to the source. I think that is the power of locally made products, across Montana & the US.
Industrial Safety & Training Services
We’re just a few days away from the Master Class, “Distillery Safety Management 101,” which we’re presenting in partnership with Industrial Safety and Training Services (ISTS). We caught up with ISTS president Gary Yurt to hear more about what to expect at the two-day session in Cincinnati.
What is the most commonly overlooked component of distillery safety?
Gary Yurt: We overlook general safety requirements to include OSHA compliance, employee training and required safety inspections.
What’s the biggest challenge you see among new, small distilleries with regard to establishing safety policies?
G.Y.: Creating a safety culture that everybody believes in. We hire a lot of new employees who believe that safety is a supervisor’s responsibility and that’s so far from the truth
How much time, generally, should companies commit to regular safety training, drills, etc.?
G.Y.: A company should commit an adequate amount time weekly, monthly and quarterly to required safety training. Certain OSHA standards do require “Safety Program reviews” on a regular basis, as well as Lockout Tagout, Haz-Com, Fall Protection and Confined space entry.
What are some of the most common causes of accidents in distilleries?
G.Y.: Slips, trips and falls are the leading accident causes in distilleries, also cuts and lacerations handling equipment that are sharp, also handling hazardous chemicals.
What can attendees expect to take away from the session in Cincinnati?
G.Y.: [Attendees can expect to gain] a good knowledge of safety and how each person can implement it at their distilleries, as well as an understanding of what is required by law. And I think networking will be also another huge advantage seeing what other distilleries are doing or not doing.
Attention: One Week Left to Take
TTB Customer Satisfaction Survey
Emails have been sent inviting craft spirits producers to participate in the 2018 TTB Customer Satisfaction Survey. If you receive the invitation, please take the survey—it’s hosted by SurveyMonkey and is available through June 30, 2018 or until the maximum allowable number of responses is reached. Your feedback plays an important role in helping the TTB understand our industry’s concerns, so it can shape its procedures and policies to better meet your needs. Your responses are anonymous, and it shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes to complete the survey.
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.
Do you have a new spirit release, an upcoming event, or some news to drop?