Monthly Mash November 2017

The Monthly Mash
Volume 2.1
Member-Owned, Industry-Driven
ACSA Mission:
To elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers.
From the Desk of Margie A.S. Lehrman, Executive Director
This week of Thanksgiving reminds us there’s lots for which to be thankful. We have our passionate entrepreneurs, culminating in a vibrant community of over 1,500 craft spirits producers. We have our ACSA Board of Directors who give so much of their time and wisdom to advocate on your behalf. We have hope for a reduction in the Federal Excise Tax as language was adopted and passed in the Senate Finance Committee just last week. And, we have our ACSA family of distillers, suppliers, and friends of our industry who have joined us, the only national trade group run by and for independent craft spirits producers.
In this issue you’ll learn about the results of the work of the legislative affairs committee, together with our industry partners, in our fight to reduce the FET; be encouraged to register now to take advantage of an early-bird rate for our upcoming annual convention to be held in Pittsburgh in early March; be schooled on the economics of our industry with highlights from the Craft Spirits Data Project; and be reminded about New York’s cool vibe.
Help us welcome our newest members.
And, don’t miss out on learning a bit more about one of our industry friends and supporters: Tom Potter of NY Distilling Company and Chad Pollock of Backwards Distilling Company.
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!
Margie A.S. Lehrman
Executive Director
So Close, but Not Quite There: STAY TUNED
The craft distilling industry received great news last week. The U.S. Senate Finance Committee decided to include S. 236, ACSA’s legislative proposal to reduce the Federal Excise Tax (FET) on craft producers, those producing 100,000 or fewer proof gallons, in the major tax bill going through Congress. Under the bill, the FET would go from $13.50 to $2.70 per proof gallon. ACSA thanks Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) for making this a priority in the Senate markup with his amendment. We also are deeply appreciative to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) for the years of work they have put into advancing this issue. Thank you to the many craft distillers that lit up the phone lines and flooded the e-mail inboxes of the Congress over the past few weeks to get this done.
The full U.S. Senate will consider the bill after the Thanksgiving holiday. Of note to distillers, the tax relief is for a period of two years in 2018 and 2019. While that may sound like a short time frame, many tax provisions expire on a regular basis and their proponents have to return to Congress to extend it or have it made permanent. The entire tax bill sunsets for individuals in eight years. We are very confident, that if enacted, our industry can get this lowered permanently. We are a long way, however, from winning the issue entirely. To our disappointment, the U.S. House did not include any tax relief for craft producers. The full House passed their bill last week. If we can maintain our provision in the Senate, the two Houses will have to work out differences. ACSA will continue its efforts in Washington and coordinate with our craft distillers to get this into law in 2018.
New Features for 2018
For Vendors
  • More time with attendees. The trade show floor opens the day of pre-registration on Sunday, March 4th from 4:00pm to 8:00pm so you can enjoy some quieter moments before the convention becomes crowded.
  • All the booths are in one central location
  • Four exclusive “opportunity” booths with a prime location (call or email for details)
  • 14 “bargain” booths that are available near main trade show area (call or email for details)
For Attendees
  • More time with businesses who support DSP efforts. Come to preregistration on Sunday, March 4th to enjoy a libation while unhurriedly walking the trade show floor. Connect with old friends and learn from the suppliers who can enhance your businesses.
  • Expanded educational sessions to meet your every need
  • Complimentary evening of entertainment at the Heinz History Center, cohosted with the Pennsylvania Distillery Guild. Your registration fee includes free entry to American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition and a Tasting of Pennsylvania Craft Spirits.
  • An unveiling of ACSA’s new and improved website
All ACSA Members (and non-members) can take advantage of early bird pricing. Plus, affiliate Members receive a 10% discount on a booth. Contact ACSA for the discount code, email Teresa McDaniel and/or call (502) 807-4249.
Not yet a Member? Join here!
Craft Distilling is on the Rise:
Nearly 6 Million Cases of Craft Distilled Products Sold in 2016
Harry Kohlmann Ph.D., CEO of Park Street, presents the Craft Spirits Data Project
Last month, the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), Park Street, and the IWSR published its second annual Craft Spirits Data Project © 2017. The hip tasting room at the Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, New York set the stage for Mark Shilling, ACSA President, to welcome the group; Margie A.S. Lehrman, Executive Director, to provide the highlights of the study; and Harry Kohlmann, Ph.D., to lend details surrounding the data.
The Craft Spirits Data Project revealed that the industry grew in several places. There are nearly 20,000 full time employees in craft spirits, which represents a growth of 47.8% over the past year. The number of active craft distilleries in the U.S. grew by 20.8%, with 1,589 distilleries. Exports grew 8.2% since 2015, with 566,000 cases exported in 2016.
ACSA extends a warm thank you to Kings County Distillery for hosting this media event, to Alexandra Clough, Gather PR for organizing it, and to the financial analysts and media who attended. A debt of gratitude is also owed to our collaborators: the teams of Park Street and the IWSR for partnering with ACSA to collect, analyze, and report this historic data.
Find the full press release on the ACSA website or download the 2017 Craft Spirits Data Project to read the detailed findings.
Regional Focus: New York City, NY
New York City is home to some of the best bars and bartenders in the country. The city that never sleeps has plenty of places to grab a drink at any hour of the night. From curated beverage programs to cheap dive bars, there’s a drink for everyone. New York City has always been a hub for drinking and the city has some historic watering holes, but the rise of craft beer and spirits in the city has led to bars tailored to every whim. There are craft cocktail bars throughout the five boroughs with New Yorkers also making the trip to tasting rooms within the distilleries or breweries. Craft is HOT in NYC!
Little Branch  in Manhattan’s West Village taps into the speakeasy aesthetic of the Roaring 20s. A live jazz band plays most nights, pairing perfectly with classic cocktails. Located in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn,  Until Tomorrow  dishes out unique and experimental cocktails. Interested in a savory or herbal drink? This neighborhood cocktail joint has you covered.  As Is  in Hell’s Kitchen is one of New York’s best craft beer bars but they also dish out draft cocktails, prepared by expert bartender Brandon Duff. If you’re seeking delicious craft beer and cocktails, this is the spot for you. Long Island City, Queens is home to  Dutch Kills , an unpretentious cocktail bar and tavern. Let the bartenders know which spirits you’d like in your cocktail and they’ll whip you up a special drink. Or, choose one of the great house cocktails. Cobble Hill, the hip Brooklyn neighborhood, contains several great cocktail bars including  Clover Club , a classic cocktail bar. Pop in for brunch or a late night drink. The cocktails seem traditional but typically have a unique twist with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Cacao Prieto , located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, produces delicious chocolate and liquor. Cacao Prieto sources Dominican cacao that is used in beans-to-bottle spirits and chocolate bars. Cacao Rums and Liquors are made from organic cane sugar and Dominican cacao beans. A few neighborhoods north is  Kings County Distillery , which hosted ACSA’s media event for the  Craft Spirits Data Project . Kings County Distillery located within the Brooklyn Navy Yard produces a variety of whiskeys, bourbons, and moonshine. The Gatehouse Tasting Room, at the entrance of the Navy Yard, is open every day of the week. Sample the Kings County spirits straight or in classic and experimental cocktails.  NY Distilling Company  in Greenpoint, Brooklyn draws on the distilling and spirits history of New York City, producing quality whiskey and gin. Visit the Shanty, NY Distilling Co.’s bar, for craft cocktails featuring their own products and some of their favorite spirits.
Welcome Newest Voting and Affiliate Members!
ACSA extends a warm welcome to a few of our newest members:
Find out more about becoming a member  here .
Save Your DSP Money and Join a Passionate Community
Become an ACSA Member Today
Joining the American Craft Spirits Association means that you’ll have opportunities to receive critical updates, learn during our webinar and convention education sessions, compete in our spirits judging, participate in our legislative efforts to reduce the burdensome federal excise tax, and more!
A Q&A with Your ACSA Team
We asked two members of the ACSA family to answer a few questions about their experience in the craft spirits community and the challenges facing the industry. Read below to find responses from Chad Pollock ( pictured below), the head distiller of of Backwards Distilling Company (located in Mills, WY) and Tom Potter ( pictured left), co-founder of New York Distilling Co. (located in Brooklyn, NY) and a founding member of ACSA.
What is your background? How did you get into distilling?
TP: “I got into distilling by way of brewing. I was the co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery in 1987 and I was chairman and CEO until 2004. I took some time off and in 2008 I got really excited about the craft spirits scene and joined with Allen Katz and my son Bill to start NY Distilling Company. I felt like the very positive energy around craft spirits reminded me of the early days of craft brewing and that’s what got me excited about launching in craft distilling.”
CP: “My background is in automotive. I was pursuing a career in custom car fabrication. A passion for absinthe is what inspired us to open a distillery. From there it was just a matter of learning.”
What are some of the similarities and differences you’ve found between craft beer and craft spirits?
TP: “Craft brewing in the 1980s was pioneer work. The retailers, distributors, and consumers didn’t really know or care about craft beer. It wasn’t like we were meeting a need; we were creating a need. It took a long time for the market to appreciate craft beer. And then it really started to take off. When I started working in the spirits scene, it seemed that craft spirits were at least 20 years behind. And I think craft spirits is catching up. There’s a lot of room to grow. But, one of the biggest differences is now there is a much better receptivity. Consumers, distributors, and retailers are much more interested and aware of the opportunities for local distilleries. And one of the reasons is that they’ve got the craft beer as a model.”
What are some of the challenges facing our industry?
TP: “It’s crucial for the little guys to legitimately own craft. The challenge is to create a tent that’s big enough to bring in as many independent companies as possible. Including traditional and radical innovative companies. The challenge is to have a large tent and to welcome everyone’s help but then also to have standards. And I think ACSA has struck a good balance so far by embracing the big tent but saying that we do have standards. It’s crucial to have transparency.”
CP: “Over saturation is one of the biggest challenges facing our industry. The rate at which people are entering the industry is much higher than the market share craft spirits have. This will result in some sort of a shakeout in the industry as some distilleries can’t sell enough to survive.”
How would a reduced FET impact your business?
TP: “It would be huge. I think it would be good for the industry as a whole, beyond just small distilleries. I think the industry will be healthier when the small guys are healthier. Specifically, for us, the amounts are pretty significant. It would represent a couple of hires right away, in production and in marketing.”
CP: “It would save us thousands of dollars a year and that can go towards expanding our barrel inventory, or pay our mortgage, and could allow us to hire another full time employee. We would probably opt for a full time salesman to help us grow and expand sales.”
How would you describe the craft spirits scene in New York City?
TP: “It’s fantastic. We benefit from being in the deepest, richest spirits market in the world. The bad part of that is it’s highly competitive. Every global company wants to do well in New York. On the other hand, you have an unbelievable richness of independent operators. People who don’t answer to corporate headquarters when picking out the menu. The craft spirits market has been pretty collegial and there’s a pretty positive camaraderie. All of us would like to be the most successful local distillery but I think we also all recognize that for better or worse we’re going to share reputation. The success of the category will definitely help us all.”
How would you describe the craft spirits scene in Wyoming?
CP: “Almost nonexistent. Wyoming is definitely a beer drinking state and the response to craft spirits has not been great so far. We have fans and there is a small population of people who are excited to see this happening but the vast majority just want to stick to their big brand beer and spirit and, for most, price is the determining factor for their choices. That being said we have grown to have quite a few new distilleries.”
Did You Know?
  • The TTB has issued over 2,525 DSPs! Find the full list here.
  • Employment in the craft spirits industry grew by 47.8% over the past twelve months, with nearly 6,000 new full-time jobs. Find more info from the Craft Spirits Data Project here.
  • Looking for cold weather cocktails? Try these “rich and buttery” drinks via Supercall
  • Did you miss these drink holidays for the month of November?
November 7: World Gin Day
November 8 : National Cappuccino Day
November 8: National Harvey Wallbanger Day
November 19: National Macchiato Day
November 20: National Beaujolais Day
November 23: National Espresso Day
Social Media
Do you have a new spirit release, an upcoming event, or some news to drop?
Follow our social media channels and tweet at us (@craftspiritsus), connect with us on LinkedIn, or post to our Facebook Page and we’ll be sure to share it!
ACSA Board of Directors 2017-2018
Treaty Oak Brewing and Distilling Co. (TX)
Vice President
Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (CO)
New Liberty Distillery (PA)
Privateer Rum (MA )
Dogfish Head Distilling (DE)
Central & Mountain
Blaum Brothers Distilling Company (IL)
Garrison Brothers (TX)
Santa Fe Spirits (NM)
Headframe Spirits (MT)
Du Nord Craft Spirits (MN)
Osocalis Distillery (CA)
Rogue Ales & Spirits (OR)
Bently Heritage Distillery (NV)
Woodinville Whiskey Co. (WA)
Ex Officio
[*Appointed by the Board of Directors]
Westland Distillery (WA)
Vermont Spirits Distilling Co. (VT)
Few Spirits (IL)
Thank you to our Sponsors!

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