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:
Although temperatures may be falling across the U.S., this was a HOT month for ACSA. There was no shortage of energy and activity, and ideas continue to heat up as we enter the last quarter of the year.
Finishing touches were put on our Distillers Convention and Vendor Trade Show with registration now open for vendors and attendees alike. Craft on Ice is our theme for that event taking place in Minneapolis February 10-12.
We opened registrations for our Florida regional program. Learn from past attendees why you MUST consider attending Distillery Safety Management 101 that will take place in Orlando from November 15th and 16th.
New York City hosted the release of our Craft Spirits Data Project. Over two dozen financial analysts and media gathered to hear from Harry Kohlmann, Ph.D,, with Park Street and Adam Rogers with IWSR. We fielded a number of great questions about our growing industry, hitting on reasons as to why we are seeing the numbers of new distilleries continue to increase. A warm thanks to our member DSPs who participated in that research.
Just weeks before, we were also on Capitol Hill to raise our glasses in the Senate.Your ACSA President and Immediate Past-President, Chris Montana and Mark Shilling, together with Dave Woods from Wiggly Bridge Distillery, walked the halls to share with Senate offices the importance of permanency of the reduction of the Federal Excise Tax. While the reception was festive, the meetings just prior reminded us of the need to rally ALL OUR MEMBERS AND SUPPLIERS as the FET reduction past December 2019 is clearly not a “done deal”. Stay tuned on how you can and should help in this battle.
Then we take you on a tour of Wisconsin. Our research shows we have at least 30 active distilleries in this state whose motto is FORWARD. It is also the home state of our election chair, Renee Bemis from Driftless Glen in Baraboo. Make a point to visit some of these distilleries.
Finally, do you know the latest on closures? If not, you’ll find our visit with TAPI enlightening.
Attention Industry Suppliers/Vendors: Booth Space for ACSA Convention Still Available But Vanishing Fast
There’s still some booth space available for ACSA’s 6th Annual Distillers’ Convention & Vendor Trade Show, but it’s selling fast. Reserve your booth now to ensure that your company’s products and/or services will be able to be front and center before a gathering of craft spirits producers from across the country. We offer 8’x10′ single booths and 8’x20′ double booths where suppliers to the industry can showcase their products, services and solutions before a gathering of craft spirits producers from across the country.
Distillers: Don’t Miss the Early-Bird Registration Deadline!
Join fellow producers and other industry experts for the largest gathering of licensed craft spirits producers in the U.S. Register now to take advantage of our early-bird registration rates and discount room block! We’ll be in Minneapolis, MN February 10-12th with some cool pre-convention programs planned.The early-bird registration rates expire October 31, 2018. And book your room now to take advantage of the exclusive discount rate of $119/night.
Register for ACSA Regional Safety Education Program in Orlando, Florida
Join us as we head to Orlando, Florida for our next Regional Education Program, Thursday, November 15 to Friday, November 16. ACSA has once again partnered with Industrial Safety and Training Services to present “Distillery Safety Management 101.” Learn about hazard recognition, requirements of written policies, regulatory training, general OSHA compliance and much more over the course of two days. The registration fee is $399 for ACSA members and $699 for non-members. The fee for any additional participants from your company is $299 for members and $529 for non-members. We’ve negotiated an exclusive discount room rate of $119/night at the Hyatt Place Orlando/Lake Buena Vista. Book before the discount rate expires on October 24.
Here’s What Attendees Had to Say About the Long Beach, California Edition of ‘Distillery Safety Management 101’
“Between the engaging speakers, and the conversations with fellow distillers this was one of the best professional advancement classes I have ever taken. I cannot wait until they roll out the more advanced material so we can collectively, as an industry, take workplace safety seriously. [Speakers] Gary and Kevin [Yurt] are very are very dedicated, and passionate about safety. I really anticipated a very boring and dry class, only based on the material. I was quite surprised to find that they are very engaging, and funny guys who convey how important safety truly is. Stop what you are doing, right now. Whether you are a distiller, blender, operator, DSP owner, interested in owning a DSP, assistant, or anything in-between, this class is as essential as the still that makes your distillate. Knowledge is power!”
—Jake Holshue, Old Trestle Distillery (Truckee, California)
“We’re implementing what we learned immediately. [The class] is a valuable first step toward making your distillery safer, but also to get your shop in compliance with OSHA standards. The presenters were top notch.”
—Todd Leopold, Leopold Bros. (Denver, Colorado)
Hot Off the Press: The 2018
Craft Spirits Data Project
ACSA, Park Street, and the IWSR are pleased to announce the results of the 2018 Craft Spirits Data Project. We unveiled highlights of the Project this week at the Third Annual Craft Spirits Economic Briefing at Fine & Rare in New York. The Craft Spirits Data Project, which was first introduced in 2016, is a first-of-its-kind research initiative that aims to provide a solid and reliable fact base for evaluating performance and trends in the U.S. craft spirits industry.
The ongoing Project, which seeks to quantify the number, size and impact of craft spirits producers in the U.S., is an effort led by ACSA, Park Street and the IWSR, with collaboration from key industry groups including the American Beverage Licensees (ABL) and Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA).
Key findings and highlights revealed during the briefing include the following:
1) The craft distilling industry sold nearly 7.2 million cases in 2017, up 23.7% in volume over 2016, with $3.7 billion in sales and 29.9% growth by value. The market share of U.S. craft spirits reached 3.2% in volume and 4.6% in value in 2017, up from 1.2% (volume)/1.4% (value) in 2012 and 2.6% (volume)/3.8% (value) in 2016.
2) The number of active craft distilleries in the U.S. grew by 15.5% over the last year to 1,835 distilleries. Active craft distillers are defined as licensed U.S. distilled spirits producers that removed 750,000 proof gallons (or 394,317 9L cases) or less from bond, market themselves as craft, are not openly controlled by a large supplier and have no proven violation of the ACSA Code of Ethics.
3) Craft Spirits industry investment has doubled over the past two years. In 2017, investment by the U.S. craft spirits industry increased by more than $190 million to $590 million in total, doubling from $299 million in 2015. These investments primarily covered the build out of tasting rooms and other visitor experiences, equipment to increase production capacity and associated labor costs.
4) Exports are up 5.7% since 2016 with more than half a million cases exported. Exports of U.S. craft spirits reached 598,000 cases in 2017, adding more than 7.7% of additional volume to U.S. craft distillers’ total sales.
5) Distillery and tasting room sales make up 40% of all sales for small craft distilleries, while out of state sales make up 62% for larger craft distilleries. Direct sales at the distillery are important for all craft distillers but especially important for small craft producers (between 0 and 10,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually). Out of state business is particularly important for large producers (between 100,001 and 750,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually).
6) Some states are “craftier” than others, with California, New York, Washington, Texas and Colorado leading the pack. Geographically, the market remains concentrated. The top five states by number of craft distilleries—CA (156), NY (134), WA (122), TX (108) & CO (99)—make up 33.7% of the U.S. craft distiller universe, and the next five states — OR, PA, NC, OH, FL—account for an additional 18.4% of the market. The remaining states represent 47.9% of the market.
7) Federal Excise Tax (FET) reform is helping to stimulate craft spirits growth. Surveys of craft distillers indicate investments in equipment and staff in the U.S. craft spirits industry are accelerating in 2018 and are expected to continue to accelerate in 2019 due to the impact of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which became effective January 1, 2018 and reduced the Federal Excise Tax on distilled spirits from $13.50 to $2.70 per proof gallon for the first 100,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually.
As part of the ongoing effort to ensure that the Federal excise tax cuts that were part of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act are made permanent, ACSA members and staff joined the Distilled Spirits Council, Wine America, the Wine Institute, the Brewers Association and the Beer Institute for a reception celebrating “Beer, Wine, Spirits and Jobs” at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington D.C. Many craft spirits producers’ fine products were among the offerings that Senate staff in attendance had the chance to enjoy during the September 12 reception.
Regional Focus: Milwaukee & Madison, Wisconsin
Wisconsin, especially the greater Milwaukee area, may have a reputation as a beer town–its baseball team is called The Brewers, of course—but its spirits game is quite strong and only getting stronger. The state is, after all, known for its brandy Old Fashioneds and some of the newer producers are staying true to that heritage with fruit distillates of their own. There’s also quite a bit of grain and botanical activity going on as well.
Great Lakes Distillery has been part of the Milwaukee craft beverage scene since 2004, producing spirits that offer consumers a taste of Wisconsin. The distillery’s Rehorst Gin (named for founder Guy Rehorst), uses botanicals sourced in the state, while its Cranberry Liquor uses fruit from central Wisconsin bogs. Great Lakes also produces, in extremely limited batches, its Artisan Series fruit brandies.
Twisted Path Distillery opened in Milwaukee’s Bayview neighborhood just under four years ago and has been making certified organic vodka, gin and rum ever since. The distillery also offers an eclectic range of liqueurs based on experimental recipes developed in the tasting room. Twisted Path’s first whiskey release is due out this year.
Whiskey is a major focus of the activity at Central Standard Craft Distillery, with the 95 percent rye Central Standard Rye Whiskey and a salute to the first U.S. President in the form of Washington Rye. Central Standard also makes small-batch bourbon based on a nineteenth-century recipe, another bourbon that’s finished in Cabernet barrels and a Scotch-style malt whiskey made in collaboration with nearby Sprecher Brewing Company. New American Gin, Wisconsin Rye Vodka and a coffee vodka made in collaboration with Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. are among the other highlights.
Drive about 45 minutes from central Milwaukee to the town of Burlington and you’ll encounter AeppelTreow Winery & Distillery, whose name is a bit misleading, given that its core, non-distilled products are ciders and perries. It puts its apples an pears to good use in its spirits line, producing brandies from both. The distillery does dabble in grains, producing a whiskey from sorghum.
Yahara Bay, in the state capital of Madison, is another distillery that specializes in brandies, including Preiselbeere Schnapps (cranberry brandy), an Eastern European-inspired Slivovitz (plum brandy), a Kirschwasser (cherry brandy) and Yahara Bay Apple Brandy. Vodka, gin, rum and a series of innovative liqueurs complete Yahara Bay’s collection of offerings.
Madison is also home to Old Sugar Distillery whose patio outside its Main Street tasting room is a real treat on a pleasant day, as it includes a view of the state’s capitol building. Outside or inside, drinkers enjoy cocktails made from local-grape-based Brandy Station, the Greek-inspired anise-flavored Americanaki Ouzo, Cane & Abe Rum and Queen Jennie Sorghum Whiskey.
Madison’s State Line Distillery boasts a cocktail lounge serving up drinks made from the distillery’s Gin, Vodka, Apple Brandy and Coffee Liqueur, made from Kin-Kin Brazilian cold brew. State Line’s barley, wheat and rye-based whiskey is due to come of age in 2020, so you’ll want to mark your calendars.
In Cambridge, Wisconsin, Dancing Goat Distillery is famous for its “Pie” liqueurs, including Travis Hasse Apple Pie, Cherry Pie and Cow Pie—the latter a blend of chocolate, caramel, vanilla, Wisconsin dairy cream and Caribbean Rum. Its Limousin Rye Whiskey is aged in three different types of oak and solera blended.
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin is where Too Tall Distilling hangs its hat, producing a London dry gin, a barrel-aged gin, vodka and coffee liqueur. The first batch of its Whisky (spelled the Scotch and Canadian way) is due to be released in the first or second quarter of 2019.
In nearby Dane, Henry Farms Prairie Spirits is best known for its award-winning, five-year-aged J. Henry Wisconsin Bourbon, made from heirloom corn developed nearly 80 years ago at the University of Wisconsin and grown on the family’s namesake farm.
Wollersheim Distillery in Prairie du Sac is the spirits arm of the winery of the same name, producing both grape and apple brandy, as well as gin, rye whiskey and absinthe. The property was first cultivated a century and a half ago and was established as Wollersheim Winery in 1972. It got its distillery license in 2010.
If you’re feeling really adventurous and want to journey beyond the greater Milwaukee and Madison areas, there are plenty of world-class distilleries to be found in other parts of Wisconsin. Grain-to-glass Driftless Glen Distillery in Baraboo makes its flagship Bourbon Whiskey, as well as Single Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Its portfolio also includes a rye whiskey, Rivershine moonshine, both flavored and unflavored vodka, 5 Year Reserve Brandy and gin. Hendricks Family Distillery in Omro is the operation behind potato-based Pure Class Vodka and Pure Class Light—the latter with one-half the calories and one-third the alcohol content of Pure Class proper. Meanwhile, Distillery Partners in Plover produces Northern Oasis Spirits for Schierl Family Distilling. Among those is Lakeview Vodka, Riverbank Spiced Rum and Lone Duck Cinnamon Whiskey. In the western part of the state, not too far from the Minnesota border in the town of New Richmond, 45th Parallel Distilling makes its eponymous Vodka, Midwest Vodka, Midwest Gin, and Border Straight Bourbon Whiskey, distilled on-site in 45th Parallel’s pot still and aged for four years.
If you want to get a taste of Milwaukee’s nightlife, a good place to start is Boone & Crockett at its new location overlooking the Kinnickinnic River. The craft cocktail bar has a bit of a frontier feel to it, with taxidermy on the walls, offering a vintage vibe while you sip on classic and barrel-aged concoctions.
Boone & Crockett’s former location is now the home of The Lost Whale, a very green-minded cocktail bar that just opened in June 2018. The bar uses compostable straws and recycled-fiber paper products and mixes drinks with food items that would have otherwise gone to waste. Speed is also a big part of The Lost Whale’s mission, delivering drinks to hard-working people in a fast and efficient manner.
Finally, the Prohibition-era aesthetic is alive and well in Milwaukee and the best place to soak some of that in is at the very appropriately named Bugsy’s Back Alley Speakeasy. It’s a trip back in time that removes guests from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day city life, if only for a moment.
In this new monthly feature, we showcase notable books of interest to the craft spirits community.
I’m Just Here for the Drinks: A Guide to Spirits, Drinking and More Than 100 Extraordinary Cocktails
Author: Sother Teague
Publisher: Media Lab Books
Sother Teague, one of New York’s most knowledgeable bartenders and Wine Enthusiast’s Mixologist of the Year (2017), presents a brief history of both classic and lesser-known spirits with modern-day wit and old-school bar wisdom, accompanied by easy-to-mix drink recipes you’ll soon commit to memory. Better than bellying up to some of the world’s best bars with a veteran bartender, this series of essays and conversations on all things alcohol aims to reveal how the joy of drinking changed both history and culture and will likely inspire you to make a little history of your own.
Corsair Distillery owner Darek Bell’s insightful guide focuses on smoked whiskey, malt, and beer with an emphasis on techniques to maximize smoke flavor and intensity. Eighty different woods and other smoke fuel sources were used to create flavor profiles for the distiller or brewer looking for creative recipes.
If you’re a fan of peaty Scotch, Fire Water hints at the tantalizing promise that smoked American whiskeys might
This month we talk packaging trends with bottle closure supplier Tapi USA.
What are some of the most popular materials distillers are requesting for closures?
Wood top closures remain the king as it suggests to the consumer the spirits have been aged in wood. Additionally, we are seeing an increase in creativity with injected molded pieces and heavy metal zamac pieces for the tops. With the shanks, more and more distillers are moving to synthetic since the benefits outweigh those of natural cork.
What do you see as the top 3 trends in spirits packaging?
The three we see are: customizing standard stock size bottles and stoppers to make them unique to their brand, selecting high-quality stock items that are attractive and easily accessible and unique high margin products that require small packaging runs.
How have distillers’ closure needs evolved over the past several years?
We’ve seen a real trend with both craft spirits producers and large liquor companies shifting to synthetic shanks on their bar tops. In addition, distillers are exploring foreign markets and are experiencing some pushback against natural cork. That being said, we like and still sell millions of natural cork stoppers.
From a design perspective, what are distillers looking for for whiskey versus vodka, versus gin versus brandy, etc.?
It comes down to economic factors and the price point of each SKU. If you are on the economical side you would lean toward a plastic stopper to hit your margins. If you are making a high-end product you are typically looking for wood or metal. Clear tops seem to be more category-specific to vodkas although you can find them on other products.
What would you say are the biggest priorities among distillers when they’re looking for closure solutions?
Functionality, aesthetics, availability of stock items and margins
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 2,806 DSPs! Find the full list here.
The word brandy is the diminutive of “brandywine,” which was based on the Dutch term brandewijn, a shortened form of gebrande wijn, which means “burned wine.” The Scandinavian spirit brennivín comes from the same root. The Korean spirit soju has a similar meaning: “so” means “burned” and “ju” means “alcoholic drink”—sometimes used interchangeably with “wine.”
Halloween is just around the corner. The folks at Country Living have scared up these absolutely chilling recipes.