ACSA’s Mission: To elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers.
From the Desk of Margie A.S. Lehrman, Chief Executive Officer
Dear Friends in the Craft Spirits Community:
It’s raining. Actually, buckets of drops are falling as fingers hit this keyboard. Checking the current weather, it appears this storm system stretches over 1,800 miles. Whoosh. That’s a lot of rain. Grey, gloomy and wet—it could be depressing but for knowing that we desperately need rain as our reservoirs are extremely low due to a lack of snow this winter in D.C. and its surrounding states.
As a kid, I recall my farming relatives in Illinois listening attentively to the daily radio weather forecasts. I learned early on about the importance of moisture in soil; planting, growing and harvesting were dependent upon the current condition. Reading Prairie Farmer during my undergrad days (I thought I wanted to pursue a law degree with a focus on agriculture) I read about how one might maximize fields productivity through irrigation. Stories about new and improved seed, predominantly corn, also caught my attention.
Here I am—eons later—still thinking about corn.
Did you know that according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the U.S. intends to plant 92 million acres of corn next year? If last year is any indicator, corn will continue to highly dominate the grain used in U.S. spirits production with TTB reporting that last year, 189,957,302,011 pounds of corn were used. Contrast that amount to 91,977,997,989 pounds of corn used in spirits production just 10 years prior (2022). With a 107% increase in one decade, it underscores the importance of our farming community, corn boards and grower associations to production of corn in the U.S.
The Heartland Spirits Competition—an event hosted by more than 20 corn organizations and organized, developed and executed by ACSA—is now open for registration. If you produce whiskey and are in one of the states supporting this competition, you may enter to win Best in State honors in addition to a receiving a medal. This year, as a new feature, we are also accepting RTDs if produced using corn as one of its ingredients. Another new feature is that of farm distillery (not in a legal/regulatory sense) but if you raise your own crop for production of your spirits, you may be eligible to medal as the Farm Distillery for Heartland Spirits 2023. Cool, right?
This month’s Mash is fully of interesting articles. In case you missed it, we’ve recapped our stellar packaging webinar and conversations with Sonat Birneckert from KOVAL Distillery and Lucy Farber from St. George Spirits. If I wasn’t craving a cocktail prior to watching our president, Gina Holman, whip up a spring libation, I certainly am now! Read on to see what you might be missing.
The weather may not be letting up, but my mood is brightened by reflecting on what we’ve done and what’s up ahead. Sunshine is clearly in our future!
HEARTLAND WHISKEY COMPETITION
Registration Now Open for Fourth Biennial Heartland Whiskey Competition
If you make whiskey, here’s an exciting opportunity to claim bragging rights!
The American Craft Spirits Association, along with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and related corn growers associations in another 20 states, are excited to announce that registration is now open for the fourth biennial Heartland Whiskey Competition. The competition celebrates the cream of the crop—CORN, the key ingredient for eligible entries into this competition.
This competition is open to whiskey entries from all 50 states, but entries from the following states will have a chance to win Best of State: California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.
You must register your whiskey by July 15 and have it received by July 29 to earn your right to display a new gold, silver or bronze medal. This event only happens every two years so don’t let this opportunity pass you by.
Enter early and receive a 25% discount on each spirit entered!
ACSA is excited to announce that Jordan Cotton of Washington, D.C.-based Cotton & Reed is the incoming chair of the ACSA political action committee (PAC) and is also our newest member of the Board of Directors. Jordan has worked closely in ACSA governance, serving on the government affairs committee, and we look forward to his energy, vision and guidance as we begin the 2023-2024 term of office.
We are also extremely grateful to our outgoing PAC chair Stephen Johnson, who served as chair since the PAC’s inception in 2018.
ACSA’s public policy advocacy on behalf of its members is critical to making sure our community’s voice is heard on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures. A crucial piece of this strategy is a strong political action committee (PAC). ACSA created a PAC years ago to make sure the voice of our small businesses in an emerging industry is heard.
This week, we hosted a webinar titled Sustainable Packaging: How to Align Your Packaging with Your Sustainability Goals with Balaji Jayaseelan, Berlin Packaging’s vice president of sustainability. Jayaseelan led a workshop in which he broke down what makes a package sustainable; shared case studies, trends and opportunities; and shared his insights and experience on sustainability resources and actions businesses can take to make their spirits packaging more sustainable.
In case you missed it, all of our webinars are archived here and they are free to ACSA members ($59 each for non-members).
This year ACSA is marking its 10th anniversary, and each month we’re celebrating with a new initiative. This month we welcomed the ACSA Member Spring Cocktail Showcase. All month in our Craft Spirits Weekly newsletter, we shared cocktails perfect for spring. In the video above, J. Carver Distillery founding partner and ACSA Board President Gina Holman shows us how to make a Springtime Aquavit Gimlet, and here are some more cocktail recipes:
Listen to a Conversation with Lucy Farber of St. George Spirits
Our latest guest on The Craft Spirits Podcast is Lucy Farber, the operations manager for St. George Spirits in Alameda, California. She’s also a board member for the American Craft Spirits Association and one of the tri-chairs for ACSA’s education committee. In this episode, Lucy chatted about her early days at the distillery; being a part of a reinvention when ownership transitioned from founder Jörg Rupf to Lance Winters; some of her biggest challenges throughout the years; her decision to run for ACSA’s board; and her passion for education.
The March/April issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine is here and this issue highlights all of the medalists from our Third Annual Craft Spirits Packaging Awards. We also explore the challenges and opportunities of exporting; how artificial intelligence is weaving its way into the world of craft spirits; and much more.
Want to get your products and services noticed? Be a part of upcoming issues of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine, the all-digital, bi-monthly publication of the American Craft Spirits Association! Check out our media kit to see what’s in store.
If you’re not already sending news and updates about product releases and general happenings at your distillery, please add firstname.lastname@example.org to your mailing list.
Thanks to Sonat Birnecker Hart of KOVAL Distillery
On April 18, Sonat Birnecker Hart of KOVAL Distillery joined us in the V.I.P. Lounge for a virtual gathering. In a wide-ranging conversation, Hart discussed the current realities of exporting craft spirits, consolidation in distribution, rising costs and much more. Stay tuned for updates on our our next guest, and click here to learn more about additional premiums.
Pre-Order ‘The ACSA Guide to Starting and Operating a Distillery’ E-Book
In mid-June, the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) is launching an exclusive e-book, “The ACSA Guide to Starting and Operating a Distillery.” The peer-reviewed guide is a comprehensive compendium of expert insights detailing all of the tools and techniques that new distilleries need to get their businesses up and running and help ensure a prosperous future. In addition to serving as a textbook for craft spirits producers in their first one to three years in operation, it’s an invaluable resource for onboarding new members of your team, as well as a reference for existing staff to gain a more holistic view of how a distillery operates.