ACSA Board of Directors Fall Retreat in Portland, Oregon
Earlier this month, your Board of Directors gathered in Portland, Oregon to discuss ACSA’s strategic plan for the coming year, as well as develop ideas to enhance the long-term trajectory for the organization. We’d like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to House Spirits Distillery for hosting the retreat and to our very special guest, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), co-sponsor of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.
Regional Focus: New Mexico
The Southwest has been an up-and-coming region for craft spirits activity. New Mexico has been an emerging example of this wave, with a 30 percent increase in the number of distilleries operating in the state between 2017 and 2018, according to the Craft Spirits Data Project.
Colin Keegan founded Santa Fe Spirits in 2010 and, since then, it’s garnered dozens of industry awards for Colkegan Single Malt Whiskey, Wheeler’s Gin, Apple Brandy, Expedition Vodka and Silver Coyote Pure Malt Whiskey. Santa Fe also makes Atapiño Liqueur by soaking roasted piñon nuts in a barrel of Silver Coyote. Another of the distillery’s efforts to capture the flavors of the Mountain West is Slow Burn, a gin liqueur smoked with hickory and apple wood.
About 40 miles from Santa Fe in Algodones, New Mexico, Algodones Distillery is busy crafting spirits such as Claro Clear Diamond Vodka—distilled five times from corn—as well as Ginebra Southwestern Dry Gin, which combines juniper with piñon and other high desert botanicals. Also in the pipeline at Algodones are Enebro, a juniper liqueur made from Ginebra but sweetened for sipping on the rocks, and Meloso, a barrel-aged Ginebra. And keep an eye out for Luna Blue Corn Moonshine, Nina Baby Blue Corn Bourbon and Pacana pecan-flavored whiskey, all in progress.
The central-southern part of the state is home to Glencoe Distillery, in the town of the same name. Glencoe prides itself on representing “the spirits of the West, embodied in the mountains by smoke, outlaws, horses and grit,” with products such as GlenWillis American Single Malt Whiskey, GlenWillis Apple Wood Smoked Single Malt Whiskey, GlenWillis Aquila agave spirit, GinWillis Gin and Clearly Silver, Cleary Cucumber, Clearly Cherry and Clearly Lemon flavored vodkas. There’s also Sacred Grounds Coffee Liqueur, made with coffee from Sacred Grounds Coffee and Tea House, owned by two of the distillery’s co-founders.
Albuquerque’s Tractor Brewing Co. this year launched its distilling operations and is currently crafting vodka, gin and whiskey. Its tasting room in the city’s Wells Park neighborhood also will be selling cocktails made from Tractor’s spirits. Consumers also soon will be able to purchase bottles of the spirits at the Wells Park location.
Another distillery to watch, opening soon in Taos, is Highborn Spirits, which will release a range of whiskey crafted in the high desert.
We showcase notable books of interest to the craft spirits community.
Hacking Whiskey: Smoking, Blending, Fat Washing and Other Whiskey Experiments
Author: Aaron Goldfarb
This is not your ordinary whiskey book, it’s a collection of ingenious ideas and shortcuts to help you temper your whiskey to greatness in the privacy of your own home. Aaron Goldfarb, a whiskey geek (and writer), is reporting from the field, where he’s gathered tips, recipes and insider secrets about the weird yet delightful ways in which whiskey is being used today—things like making cheap homemade blends that taste fancy, infusing whiskey with marijuana smoke, adding it to infinity bottles, and doing bone marrow luge shots, to name a few.
From the authors of the best-selling and genre-defining cocktail book Death & Co, Cocktail Codex is a comprehensive primer on the craft of mixing drinks that employs the authors’ unique “root cocktails” approach to give drink-makers of every level the tools to understand, execute and improvise both classic and original cocktails.
“If Dora the Explorer turned twenty-one, split herself into
three people, and decided to write the Magna Carta of booze books,
this would be the result. And, unlike every other book you’ll read this
year, Cocktail Codex is packed with actual knowledge you can
use in the real world. Please, please, can Cinema Codex be next?
This month, it’s all about glass packaging as we chat with Michael Niehaus, Midwest/East Coast Sales Director at Saverglass.
What are some of the unique solutions that you offer at Saverglass?
Michael Niehaus: Saverglass offers the largest selection of “stock” high end/premium liquor bottles and decanters in the industry—which we sell in quantities as small as one pallet. We are also the industry leader in producing “custom” bottles/decanters of all shapes and sizes—supplying unique/iconic brands from the largest spirits companies in the world to the local craft distiller in your town. We have production facilities in North America (brand new facility), Europe and the Middle East. One of our unique capabilities is that in addition to making bottles and decanters, we also offer full decorating services (screen printing, hot stamping, spray coatings, acid etching, metallization, sand blasting, applying accessories, etc). Our “Qualiflex” program is very unique, as we are able to offer customization (example: add embossing, etc) of our stock Saverglass bottles (example: Driftless Glen, New Riff, Trails End, Vikre, Pavan, etc) and custom bottles in small production run quantities (10,000 to 13,000 bottles). In addition we can produce colored glass through our coloration feeder. Another unique offering we have is stock glass stoppers, which is an excellent option to upgrade your packaging to give it a unique upscale look. We recently have begun to offer case-packing to our North American customers. So, Saverglass is able offer full turn-key services for all of your glass packaging requirements.
What do you see as the biggest trends in packaging for the distilled spirits industry?
Customization, without a doubt. With more and more stock bottles available on the market, our customers are looking to stand out on the shelf. Our design teams work closely with customers and their packaging designers/agencies to develop unique eye-catching designs. Another trend is complete decoration of the bottle—whereby the customer receives a “complete” package—where all they or their co-packer needs to do is “fill it and cap it”. The end result is a premium package with consistent uniform packaging quality/display that draws attention to the customer’s brand!
From your perspective, how has the craft spirits business evolved over the past few years?
We are noticing a trend in the industry that craft distillers are investing more in their packaging than in the past. Year’s ago, many customers were purchasing a popular stock bottle on the market and applying a label and going with it. Now, with the growing craft market and so many new product offerings, shelf space is at premium. Distillers are upgrading their packaging, coming up with unique bottle designs that help their brands stand out on the shelf. In the past, distillers would balk at investing in custom molds. Now, they are starting to see the strong benefits of doing so. One example is Crystal Head Vodka—how many times have we all been in the liquor store and we have heard customers commenting about that design? It’s been widely reported you have four seconds to catch your potential customers attention at the shelf. Well, that brand has been a huge success that we at Saverglass have been blessed to be part of! If you can get them to pick it up and talk about it, you’ re well on your way! I was recently in a bar with a large customer and he and I commented on the crowded bar back shelves that was well back lit—we both noticed how easy it was determine some of the brands by their unique iconic shapes. That is easiest way for a new brand to gain recognition—invest in the premium custom packaging, get your brand to stand out on the shelf.
What are some of the biggest questions you get from craft spirits producers looking for packaging solutions?
Turn-key solutions! In the past, we offered stock bottles/custom bottles and then offered decoration services. Our business has evolved—the market demanded it—to now offer case packing services, warehousing, logistic solutions, etc. Our Qualiflex program addressed mold development expense. We are now able to minimize that expense at the start up phase. Then later as the brand/volume grows the customer can justify the cost of full molds to reduce unit pricing.
What are the biggest challenges related to sustainability in packaging?
There isn’t a better sustainable packaging component than glass. It’s completely recyclable. The majority of the communities in the US have recycling systems/programs in place. So this is a non-issue for the distilled spirits industry!
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 2,873 DSPs! Find the full list here.
The history of eggnog is a little hazy. No one’s 100 percent sure why it’s even called eggnog. There are a few theories: Some say it derives from an Old English term for strong beer, while others say it may come from “noggin,” an archaic term for a small cup. Another assertion is that it’s a corruption of “egg and grog.” A little less mysterious is its history with alcohol. Originally, sherry was the liquid of choice to mix in the ‘nog in England. But across the pond, rum was the prevailing beverage in Colonial America. It was also a lot more economical than sherry, so it’s a no-brainer that the spirit found its way into the traditional drink of the holiday season. For more, check out The Spruce Eats.