Make Your Voice Heard on Capitol Hill!Register Now for the 2019 Public Policy Conference
We’ll be returning to Capitol Hill for the 2019 ACSA and Distilled Spirits Council Public Policy Conference, July 22-24 at Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. This is a critical year legislatively, with FET tax relief from the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act set to expire at the end of 2019, so we’ll need all hands on deck to ensure craft spirits producers voices are heard and Congress acts on our biggest priorities. Registration is complimentary, but attendees are responsible for their own travel and lodging expenses. We’ve secured a discount rate of $209/night at the Phoenix Park Hotel.
A robust social media strategy is critical for every successful operation. Join Suzanne Henricksen, founder of the Crafty Cask, for distiller-specific social media tips and best practices.
About Your Presenter
Suzanne Henricksen is the founder of The Crafty Cask, a media and consulting company that works solely with craft alcohol producers to refine/tell their stories, improve their marketing efforts and educate consumers to grow brands and categories. She has a background in consumer marketing and a passion for craft alcohol education and exploration. Having worked in California wine country and then in Corporate America marketing for over 12 years, The Crafty Cask became Suzanne’s way of bringing a deep passion for the people, products and stories of craft alcohol together with expertise in marketing and storytelling.
When: Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 3 p.m.-4 p.m. EDT
Where: Online Webinar
Who: Suzanne Henricksen, Founder, The Crafty Cask
How Much: $39 for ACSA members, $59 for non-members
The TTB has issued a circular offering guidance to the beverage alcohol industry on social media regulations. Please read the circular and be aware of all of the necessary compliance criteria when implementing your own social media program.
Following its successful launch in 2017, the second Heartland Spirits Whiskey Competition returns to Chicago’s CH Distillery on June 4. The competition is open only to products made with corn. ACSA-sanctioned-and-supervised judging will include best-of-state awards for Heartland states, including Colorado, Illinois, Indiana,Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. We will also have best-of-category and medalists in each category. The competition is made possible through the generous funding and support of your state corn grower associations.
Although Vermont is one of the least populated states in the nation, The Green Mountain State is home to a thriving number of craft distilleries. According to the most recent Craft Spirits Data Project, there were 24 active craft distilleries in Vermont as of August 2018. From venerable stalwarts to up-and-coming ventures, here are some notable spirits companies in Vermont.
Founded in 1999, Vermont Spirits touts itself as Vermont’s original craft distiller. Located in the small village of Quechee, the distillery was originally best known for its maple vodka, Vermont Gold. Today Vermont Spirits distills a dozen spirits including Crimson Vodka (made from Vermont apples) and No. 14 Bourbon (also made with maple syrup). The distillery has a tasting room and retail store open seven days a week.
Caledonia Spirits makes gin and vodka under the Barr Hill label, a nod to the nature preserve covering 256 acres near Greensboro. The distillery makes its products from regional raw materials, with honey playing an important role. The twice-distilled vodka begins with hundreds of barrels of raw Vermont honey in late summer, and both gins are made with juniper and honey. Caledonia Spirits is nearing completion on a new 27,000-square-foot facility in Montpelier, which will replace multiple buildings the distillery has called home in Hardwick.
Mad River Distillers produced its first spirit in 2013 inside a renovated horse barn turned distillery. Today, Mad River makes more than a half dozen spirits, with a focus on whiskey, rum and brandy. Hopscotch is Vermont’s first single-malt whiskey and is part of a collaboration with a rotating selection of brewers. Mad River’s Maple Cask Rum is finished in spirit-conditioned maple barrels, and Mad Apple, a dry brandy, is distilled from 100 percent Vermont apples. Mad River operates a tasting room and tours at its production facility in Warren, and also has a tasting room in Burlington that serves more than 30 cocktails.
Smugglers’ Notch Distillery is the alchemy of a father and son dream. Owned by Ron and Jeremy Elliott, Smugglers’ Notch produces a variety of spirits, including a Hopped Gin which passes through locally sourced Cascade hops. The Bourbon Barrel Aged Rum ages for three years in charred white oak barrels and an additional year in bourbon barrels. Smugglers’ Notch is based in Jeffersonville but also operates tasting rooms in Waterbury Center and Burlington.
From its Middlebury distillery and aging facility, Stonecutter Spirits crafts deep and complex whiskey and gin. Heritage Cask Whiskey is distilled in Kentucky and then aged for three and a half years in bourbon barrels in Vermont. The whiskey rests for an additional four months in California cabernet barrels. Single Barrel Gin is made with cardamom, orange peel, coriander, juniper, licorice root, rose petals and green tea, then aged in bourbon barrels. Stonecutter also runs the bar Highball Social in Burlington.
And as for spirits companies to watch in the future, Lost Lantern Whiskey aims to be an independent bottler of craft whiskey. Its founders left New York City last year in favor of touring distilleries and national parks via an extended road trip. Based in Weybridge, Lost Lantern plans to shine a light on the nation’s best craft whiskeys and will release single casks and create blends made from whiskies sourced from multiple craft distilleries.
At ACSA’s 6th Annual Convention & Vendor Trade Show, Helena, Montana’s Gulch Distillers won Best in Show for its Burrone Fernet. We caught up with co-founders Tyrrell Hibbard and Steffen Rasile and chatted about their journey to the top honor.
Tell us a little about Gulch’s history.
Tyrrell Hibbard: Gulch Distillers was started out of a passion for distilled spirits and mixology. The two of us bonded over a shared vision of creating craft spirits in Montana by capturing local ingredients and flavors and putting our story into the bottle. After a few years of bouncing ideas and encouragement off of each other, we took the plunge and jumped into production. Creating true small batch spirits in a small distillery has allowed us to be very nimble and focus on quality and take unique opportunities as they present themselves.
What would you say your vision/philosophy is as a distillery?
Steffen Rasile: We have a guiding principle to be true to our place. We grew up in this community, it is very much a part of us and our identity. Gulch Distillers takes its name from Helena, which exists at the convergence of over a half dozen gulches. Our vision extends from this principle, to create products that celebrate our place and to share our successes with our community. Part of that vision is also enriching our community, which we do through philanthropy, community events, partnerships and cultivating cocktail culture. We have had to be very nimble as a business and as a production facility to stay true to that vision. As a result we have adopted an open-minded philosophy that forces us to consider unlikely products, partnerships and processes.
You won for your fernet. Do you see a major untapped opportunity for American craft-distiller-produced herbal liqueurs?
TH: Herbal liqueurs were a big reason we got into this business in the first place. The amaro category is so broad and each spirit reflects the place it was made. The idea of place has always been one of our driving principles, and we feel our spirits represent Montana very well. You see these herbal liqueurs popping up on menus across the country because they each bring something different to the table. We love seeing these liqueurs come to the market, but consumer tastes have a way to go—we are educating 90 percent of the people who come into our tasting room on what Fernet is and how to enjoy it. We thought a lot about the bartender when crafting Burrone Fernet. Though it is delicious on its own, it also brings a lot of complexity to cocktails that really excites the drinker.
How do you position craft liqueurs in the market against larger, better known import brands?
TH: Since each amaro has a different profile we have positioned ourselves as another Fernet option. We have found that if you are a lover of fernet you are probably willing to try another expression in the category. Ours is a distinctly Western expression of an Old World liqueur. Bars that have more than one fernet often have as many as they can get their hands on. We are not trying to bump Branca off the shelf, we want to be right next to it.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned in the craft spirits business?
SR: The biggest lesson we have learned is that selling the spirit is just as important as the quality of the product you put in the bottle. Some people have the idea that if you make it, people will buy it. This has not been our experience; you have to get out there and tell the story of your product and make your product meaningful to consumers. Customers feed off the passion we have for our spirits and they understand what we are going for when we walk them through our product line. Engaging our customers has been critical in the development of Gulch; without their enthusiasm and support we would not have been able to take the product risks that have brought us to where we are.
Any new projects/products in the pipeline you care to share?
SR: We have been making single malt whisky since we first turned on the still. That product is still in barrels and it will make its way into a bottle when we feel like it is ready. We are also working on a new amaro that uses 100 percent Montana grown ingredients.
What was your immediate reaction when your product was announced as Best in Show?
TH: We enter our products into these competitions mostly to get feedback from industry professionals and to see how our work stacks up against other craft spirits. This feedback makes its way back into the factory where it informs our processes and helps us improve as distillers. With no expectations of placing in the awards, we were shocked and honored to win the Gold medal, then floored to win Best in Class. When Best in Show was announced I was in disbelief, and then astonished. To receive that honor when up against so many respected brands and products that we love and admire was a real thrill, particularly with our most polarizing spirit!
What do you recommend to other distillers looking to enter next year’s awards?
SR: Make yourself relevant, but be authentic. You need to create a product that is worthy of someone’s shelf space and true to yourself, your place, and your operation. You need to tell a story to keep your product on people’s minds. But most of all you need to believe in what you are doing and take pride in what you are making.
2018 Annual Report Now Available
ACSA’s 2018 Annual Report is now available, The report includes a look back at all of our activities throughout 2018, as well as key government affairs initiatives, 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 Carason Lehmann at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include the subject line “2018 Annual Report.” Also, the report is now available for download in PDF form at the ACSA website.
We showcase notable books of interest to the craft spirits community.
Spirits, Sugar, Water, Bitters: How the Cocktail Conquered the World
Author: Derek Brown with Robert Yule
A cocktail—the fascinating alchemy of simple alcohols into complex potables—is an invention as unlikely as it is delicious, and an American innovation whose history marches in step with that of the Republic. In Spirits Sugar Water Bitters, nationally recognized bartender and spirits expert Derek Brown tells the story of the cocktail’s birth, rise, fall and eventual resurrection, tracing the contours of the American story itself. In this spirited timeline, Brown shows how events such as the Whiskey Rebellion, Prohibition, and the entry of Hawaii into the United States shaped the nation’s drinking habits.
Floral Cocktails: 40 fragrant and flavourful flower-powered drinks
Author: Lottie Muir
Publisher: Ryland Peters & Small
No longer the reserve of the cocktail garnish, flowers are taking center stage in the most delectable drinks. From a subtle rose petal vodka to a heady honeysuckle syrup, adding a floral liqueur, essence or syrup to a cocktail adds a depth of flavor and complexity which will dazzle and delight. Lottie Muir, creator of The Midnight Apothecary pop-up cocktail bar, set in a roof garden in London, has created more than 40 ways to include edible blooms in drinks. Recipes include a Gorse Collins with a beautiful, delicate almond, and honey flavor and a Berried Treasure, inspired by a French 75, using Elderflower Liqueur to provide sweetness mixed with gin, lemon juice, and Champagne.