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:
March flew by with more energy and excitement than any one month in the history of ACSA. Our epic convention attracted attendees from near and far to help celebrate ACSA’s 5th Anniversary. The upbeat vibe, especially since the passage of the reduction in the FET, enveloped the Pittsburgh scene.
From the opening, to the live polling and videos capturing how FET savings are being reinvested, to The Pennsylvania Toast at the Heinz History Museum, to the stellar educational programs, to the launching of the ACSA PAC, to the packed trade show floor, to the distribution of the inaugural Annual Report, the mood was clearly optimistic for a bright future ahead. In addition, more than 75 distillers signed a letter to the 360 sponsors/cosponsors of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act in thanks for the Congressional support of our industry. That letter was hand delivered to members of Congress this past week.
The future will be determined by what we do today . For voting DSPs (regular members), your action items include voting for five members of ACSA Board of Directors [polls close at midnight on April 1st] and completing the Craft Spirits Data Project survey [PLEASE complete this study—it is the information we need to continue our battle to make the FET reduction permanent]. For ALL members of our community, make your plane reservations now to attend the Public Policy Conference, cosponsored by the Distilled Spirits Council, May 14th-16th in Washington DC.
Take advantage of our continued educational offerings. See two solid webinars that will make a difference to your distillery operations.
See what seven members of our ACSA distilling family are doing in Brooklyn this summer.
And, get some insight on label design trends and sustainability in this month’s Q&A.
Thank you for engaging with ACSA. Let’s continue to work smart and hard together. Together we will succeed.
We Still Need Your Help: Please Respond to the
2018 Craft Spirits Data Project Survey
We’d like to ask for your input once again 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.
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.
2018 ACSA Convention & Vendor Trade Show Wrap-Up
ACSA welcomed more than 1,000 members of the craft spirits community to Pittsburgh for our fifth-annual Convention & Vendor Trade Show. Attendees representing more than 300 DSPs, across 44 states and four different countries—Canada, the United Kingdom and Guatemala, in addition to the U.S.—convened at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown earlier this month to learn from 53 speakers presenting 27 education sessions and network with 117 world-class vendors on the trade show floor.
ACSA Board Member and Convention Chair James Montero, general manager of Dogfish Head Distilling, officially opened the convention, noting that ACSA sold out all available exhibitor space in half the amount of time it took last year to do the same. Attendees got to spend some extra time with exhibitors, thanks to a pre-convention meet & greet on the show floor on Sunday evening, March 4.
Keynote Address: Fawn Weaver
Keynote speaker Fawn Weaver (pictured, right), best-selling author and founder of the Nearest Green Foundation—dedicated to preserving the history of the man who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey—offered some tangible insights for entrepreneurs, distilled (pun intended) into four steps:|
1. Do stuff that scares the crap out of you every single day.
2. Find a story worth telling and don’t let anyone shut you up.
3. Never be the smartest person in the room. Surround yourself with better,
smarter, more awesome people than you.
4. Let love and purpose lead you…screw everything else!
Panel: Tax Parity for Small Distillers
Naturally, one of the biggest topics of conversation at the convention was the recent passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, lowering the Federal excise tax (FET) for two years. ACSA president Mark Shilling moderated a panel of industry leaders—including Tom Mooney of House Spirits, Nicole Austin (pictured, left), formerly of Kings County Distillery and now of Cascade Hollow Distilling; Paul Hletko of FEW Spirits, Ted Huber of Starlight Distillery and ACSA lobbyist Jim Hyland—who celebrated this momentous accomplishment, while addressing the next steps in ensuring FET relief is made permanent. “Let’s celebrate a little bit,” said Shilling, “but let’s not lose sight of what we have to do.” Though permanence is the ultimate goal, Hyland noted that the immediate reality might be a series of two-year or five-year extensions.
The Pennsylvania Toast
On the evening of Monday, March 5, convention attendees headed over to the Heinz History Center for the Pennsylvania Toast, a grand spirits tasting event which ACSA co-hosted with the Pennsylvania Distillers Guild. Sixteen Pennsylvania distilleries sampled their spirits for a packed house a few floors up, appropriately enough, from the Heinz Center’s temporary exhibit, American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (which was also open to attendees).
Participating distilleries included Bella Banbini Cello, Bluebird Distilling, Cart/Horse Distilling, CJ Spirits, Liberty Pole Spirits, Maggie’s Farm Rum, Manatawny Still Works, Luminary Distilling, Mountain Laurel Spirits (Dad’s Hat Rye), New Liberty Distillery, Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries (Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka), Philadelphia Distilling, Port of Pittsburgh Distillery, Quantum Spirits, Social Still and Wigle Whiskey. The event featured a silent auction of gift baskets donated by distillers. Fifty-percent of the auction’s proceeds supported the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. Special thanks to Blanc Printing for donating their creative and design to the Pennsylvania Toast program guide and to Glencairn Glass for providing tasting glasses for the event.
To bring the convention to a rousing conclusion, ACSA awarded 16 Gold, 84 Silver and 209 Bronze medals, as well as Best in Class and Best in Show honors at the Fifth Annual Judging of Craft Spirits Awards Dinner. The dinner was sponsored by Republic National Distributing, whose corporate mixologist Sly Cosmopoulos (pictured, right) presented the evening’s biggest award, Best of Show, to Arizona’s Elgin Distillery for its Regalo de Vida rum—which also won Best in Class award for the rum category.
Other Best of Class winners included 5 Year Rallypoint Straight Rye Whiskey from Still 360 (Whiskey), Wigle Organic Ginever from Pittsburght Distilling Co. (Gin), Tiny Cat Vodka from Fainting Goat Spirits (Vodka), Starlight Distillery Reserve Brandy (Brandy), and Tattersall Distilling’s Bitter Orange Liqueur (Specialty Spirits). A complete list of winners can be found at the ACSA website.
Cast Your Ballot in the 2018 ACSA Board of Directors Election
By now voting members of the ACSA should have received ballots for the 2018 Board of Directors Election. The successful candidates will help govern the association, one that is dedicated to elevating and advocating for the community of craft spirits producers. Together, leading an organization that is built by and for craft spirits producers, we can change the face of the industry. Please submit your completed ballots no later than April 1, 2018. Here are this year’s candidates:
This month we published 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.
Save the Date: ASCA & Distilled Spirits Council Public Policy Conference, May 14-16, 2018
We’ll be teaming up with the Distilled Spirits Council for a joint Public Policy Conference, May 14-16, 2018 in Washington, D.C. 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. For more information, contact Carason Lehmann at ACSA ( firstname.lastname@example.org) or Drew Floyd at the Distilled Spirits Council (email@example.com).
A Thank-You Visit to Capitol Hill
Earlier this month, ACSA Executive Director Margie Lehrman, Executive Assistant Carason Lehmann and lobbyist James Hyland (Pennsylvania Avenue Group), hand-delivered a letter to the Congressional offices of the 360 sponsors and co-sponsors of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, thanking for their efforts in passing the law. It included the signatures of more than seventy-five craft spirits producers across the country.
Bar Convent Brooklyn Craft Distillery Lineup Announced
On June 12 and 13, ACSA will be in Brooklyn, N.Y., for Bar Convent Brooklyn, the inaugural U.S.-based edition of Europe’s largest bar industry trade show, Bar Convent Berlin. Our booth will highlight spirits from America’s small producers and seven distilleries in particular will be on hand to showcase their products. We’re proud to announce the participating craft spirits producers:
Mark your calendars for these key educational opportunities coming up in March and April. This month, we’re spotlighting two webinars, as well as some convention and pre-convention highlights you won’t want to miss in Pittsburgh.
CRAFT SPIRITS CLASSROOM: Quenching Your Thirst for Knowledge
TWO Upcoming Programs
The New Tastemakers: How to Use Sensory Perception to Increase Brand Enjoyment
Does your branding give the right flavor cues? We now know that flavor experience, and therefore brand enjoyment, is influenced by all of our senses—not just our taste buds. Join Cynthia Sterling, founder and creative director of Sterling Creativeworks , to learn how the latest research on sensory perception can help us design packaging and messaging that create authentic and memorable experiences for consumers and drive brand loyalty. As a branding specialist, Cynthia helps today’s smartest marketing minds build brands that capture attention, delight consumers & build brand loyalty. She is the author of the book Branding: Distilled, a comprehensive guide to packaging for craft spirits. After the webinar, we’ll save some time for Q & A.
When: March 28, 2018 3-4 PM EDT
Where: Online Webinar
Who: Cynthia Sterling, F ounder and Creative Director of Sterling Creativeworks
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 Minneapolis-St. Paul region famously has produced some of the world’s most iconic musical talent—particularly a certain purple-clad individual—but it’s also becoming a rising star among Midwestern distilling areas.
In Minneapolis proper, Du Nord Craft Spirits has been capturing a bit of its home state’s terroir in every bottle since the company launched five years ago. Fruit from an orchard in Lake City, Minnesota ultimately becomes the juice that flavors the distillery’s award-winning liqueur, Apple Du Nord. L’etoile Du Nord proves it is a true star of the north with a base of Minnesota sugar beets and corn. That same corn serves as the foundation of Café Frieda coffee liqueur, which incorporates fair-trade-certified Peace Coffee Yeti cold-press blend roasted less than a mile from the distillery. The city is also home to Tattersall Distilling, whose products scored a string of victories at this month’s ACSA convention. A visit to the distillery provides the opportunity to sip Best of Specialty Spirits winner Tattersall Bitter Orange Liqueur, as well as silver medalists Tattersall Aquavit, Tattersall Amaro and Tattersall Fernet, and a number of bronze-winning liqueurs and gins. Another local favorite, Lawless Distilling Co., houses a bar showcasing Lawless’s gins, vodka and rum. Apple brandy, bourbon, gin and vodka are some of the specialties marketed by another Minneapolis-based producer, Crooked Water Spirits.
Over in St. Paul, 11 Wells repurposed space in the historic Hamm’s Brewery, all part of revitalization efforts of the city’s Payne Avenue Corridor. 11 Wells’s small distillery inside the Hamm’s campus’s old Blacksmith and Millwright Shop buildings produces wheat and rye whiskeys and a range of rums. There’s plenty happening outside the cities proper, as well. The weekend tours at J. Carver Distillery in the nearby town of Waconia, are quite the popular attractions. J. Carver’s offerings run the gamut of whiskeys, gins, brandies, vodkas and liqueurs. The company is also one of the growing number of U.S. distillers producing their own interpretation of the Italian pomace brandy, grappa. St. Louis Park, meanwhile, is home to The Dampfwerk Distillery Co., whose focus is European-style fruit brandies, including both unaged and barrel-matured versions. Spring Grove, Minnesota is a bit farther out, but certified farm distillery RockFilter‘s organic whiskeys are worth the trip.
Minneapolis has been upping its speakeasy game of late, with such hidden-in-plain-site establishments as Volstead’s Emporium (the name being the dead giveaway) and Marvel Bar. Then there’s Parlour, downstairs from the trendy North Loop dining spot, Borough—which made an appearance on Bon Appetit’s Top 50 Best New Restaurants in America for 2013. For a decidedly whiskey-forward drinking and dining experience, you’ve got to make sure Dalton & Wade is on your itinerary. The menu features one of the most extensive whiskey lists in all of Minnesota.
Welcome Newest Voting and Affiliate Members!
ACSA extends a warm welcome to a few of our newest members:
This month, we caught up with Jack Vogel (pictured, below), General Manager-Spirits of Fort Dearborn Company, to talk about label design and sustainability trends across the craft spirits industry.
What are some of the key design trends in labels?
With so many product introductions in the craft spirits category, brands are getting more creative with their label designs. Labels are a critical part of the brand in getting it noticed on shelf and selling a product for the first time. It’s an opportunity for a brand to tell their story and convey the passion and quality of their product. With the rise of premiumization, we’re seeing the use of multiple finishing options, such as matte and tactile coatings, embossing and foil stamping along with specialty papers. We even print labels on a real wood veneer material. Shrink sleeve labels are also being embraced more by spirits brands. Another growing trend is personalization. With digital printing, brands can create unique and individualized labels to tell a story across a number of bottles as well as add variable printing such as signatures and batch and bottle numbers.
How has label technology evolved in terms of sustainability?
In terms of sustainability, there has been a movement to downgauge the materials. This has a positive impact on the supply chain by delivering more labels per roll, reducing changeovers and shipping weight. Other developments include: recyclable materials, materials that facilitate the recycling process and ones that contain up to 100% post-consumer waste.
What are some of the key questions/demands you get from craft distillers?
With many craft distillers being new to the industry, most often we’re asked to help them explore and understand the possibilities of what can be achieved through their labels. Many times that includes new developments for us to push the limits with their labels. We also offer 3D mock-up capabilities to help distillers see the various enhancement and price options using their bottle and design.
What are some of the biggest trends you see in craft spirits?
We have seen continued growth in the craft spirits market. Premiumization, with consumers continuing to embrace premium, artisan brands with an appreciation for unique ways to tell their story. With younger consumers, some of the biggest trends are sustainability, experimentation and personalization.
Did You Know?
The TTB has issued 2,616 DSPs! Find the full list here.
Since National Gin & Tonic Day is approaching, let’s take a look at the history of this refreshing mixed drink. Its origins reportedly date back about 300 years when a Scottish doctor discovered that quinine—the signature ingredient in tonic water—was an effective remedy against malaria. The British East India Company started giving the the mixture to soldiers in India and other tropical colonial regions.