The Monthly Mash: August 2022

Volume 7.8

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:

Have you ever overheard a conversation that piqued your interest and you couldn’t focus on anything else? Recently that happened to me, and it was relevant for a couple of reasons. The subject matter was unsolicited calls, specifically the volume which was being sent to mobile phone voicemails. The storyteller was adamant that the listener needed to contact the National Do Not Call Registry. If you haven’t used this service, try it. While it doesn’t prevent all robocalls, it helps cut down the volume. My personal favorite is a monthly call to my cellphone: someone believes they can help me reduce my student debt even though my student loans were paid off decades ago. It is equally annoying and disruptive when those calls arrive. It struck me, however, that ACSA plays an important role. It can best assist you by weeding out the clutter to point you to those items which are of utmost importance to your business and our craft spirits industry. So, read on.

To help us deliver services you need, I’m delighted to announce the appointments of key team members. Michael Walker will consult as our State Policy Advisor; Ken Brady begins as Director of Membership and Marketing; and Stephanie Sadri will guide our Meetings and Conventions. Learn more about them.

We’ve made your role in helping our industry easy! Complete the Craft Spirits Data Project survey, register for our annual public policy conference, submit an education proposal for our annual convention, register for the annual packaging awards competition, and consider how you might participate in the STEPUP Foundation program.

Hopefully, you’ll find something of interest in the announcements below. If not, let us know what you’d like to hear about in this monthly communication. We’re here to serve you. Even better, however, if you have a brilliant idea how I might convince the student loan caller that my loans were repaid, let me know! I’ll be forever indebted!

Until next month, be well.




ACSA Opens Call for Presentations for 2023 Convention

The call for presentations for ACSA’s 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show in Portland, Oregon, from Feb. 10-12 is now open! ACSA prides itself on professional education providing the greatest possible learning experience for our industry. Each individual call for presentations will be personally vetted by the ACSA Education Committee. Click here for further instructions and submit your presentation proposal by Sept. 20.
Click Here

Come Jam with Us! 

Do you play a musical instrument? Are you planning to attend ACSA’s 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention & Vendor Trade Show in Portland, Oregon, Feb. 10-12? If you answered yes to both, then we’d love for you to join your fellow musically inclined craft spirits producers for an informal acoustic jam session. You don’t need to be a virtuoso, you just need to own an acoustic instrument and love to improvise with it. And if you don’t play an instrument, but can carry a tune, we’d love to have you sing with the group. If you’re interested, contact and indicate which instrument you plan to bring or if you’d like to sign up as a vocalist.

There’s no need to be intimidated. It’ll be a low-key, largely impromptu affair whose only goal is fun!


Craft Spirits Data Project: Please Take This Important Survey

Sometimes investors want to know if our industry is healthy. Sometimes the media has questions about our growth. Sometimes legislators want to know how our small businesses contribute to the economy. Sometimes it’s all of the above and more!

In order to help us and our hand-picked partner, Park Street, provide the answers, please help us complete the 2022 Craft Spirits Data Project—the annual economic analysis which demonstrates how our craft industry is faring. The economic forecast is only as good as a retrospective look. Please complete the survey NOW to provide the data points necessary to evaluate our economic health.

Click Here

Deadline Extended: STEPUP Foundation Accepting New Applications Until Oct. 1

The STEPUP Foundation is now accepting applications for 2023 interns, mentors, DSPs and wholesalers until Oct. 1, 2022.

STEPUP stands for Spirits Training Entrepreneurship Program for Underrepresented Professionals and its mission is to provide underserved and underrepresented individuals with hands-on training and education, encouragement, and opportunities to enter the spirits community through a comprehensive internship program like no other in the alcohol beverage industry.

STEPUP, working with distilleries and wholesalers throughout the United States, provides a comprehensive, hands-on training program with a living stipend and provides job exposure for those of different races, color, national origins, genders and sexual orientations.

If you or someone you know might be a good fit as an intern, mentor, host DSP or wholesale distributor, please apply here!

Click Here to Apply

ACSA Urges FDA to Cease and Desist Audits of Craft Distillers Who Made Hand Sanitizer

In a recent letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Craft Spirits Association urged the federal government to cease and desist all audits of craft distillers who produced hand sanitizer solely during the early stages of the pandemic due to a nationwide shortage. According to an ACSA survey and conversations with distillers, more than a dozen distilleries across the nation have received letters from the FDA regarding formulation.

If you are a craft distiller who has been contacted recently by the FDA about hand sanitizer, please send a note to Your contact information will be confidential as ACSA is only trying to accurately represent the scope of the problem and its impacts to small businesses.

Click Here to Learn More and Read the Letter

Survey: Your Thoughts on TTB’s Proposal to Add American Single Malt Whiskey to Standards of Identity

The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) published a notice of proposed rulemaking that would add American single malt whiskey to the standards of identity for distilled spirits. The proposal follows years of petitions and comments from distillers, the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission (ASMWC) and the American Craft Spirits Association, among others. TTB has invited comments from the public on this proposed rule.

To help us respond to TTB, please take this survey by Sept. 6.

Click Here to Take the Survey

Register Now for the 2022 Virtual Public Policy Conference

Registration for the 2022 ACSA/DISCUS Public Policy Conference is open until Sept. 9. This virtual conference from Sept. 20-21 is an opportunity to make your voice heard on the issues most impacting your distillery! We’re looking forward to joining the best and the brightest from the distilled spirits sector to meet virtually with lawmakers and advocate on the issues impacting distilleries across the country.

On Sept. 20, join us for a legislative issues overview and state delegation meetings to prepare for Congressional meetings.

On Sept. 21, we will meet virtually with officials from Capitol Hill and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau before setting off for virtual Congressional meetings. We will close the conference with a virtual closing toast – offering the chance to connect with one another and raise a glass with industry luminaries.

We hope you can join us Sept. 20-21, and make sure to register by Sept. 9!

Click Here to Register

ACSA PAC Needs Your Support

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) and to maintain this presence, we need your support, particularly during a mid-term election year.

The easiest way to engage and learn more is to go to our website and log in to ACSA.

Should you have any questions about ACSA’s PAC, or ACSA’s public policy initiatives, please write to

Click Here to Learn More


Registration Opens for Third Annual Competition

Registration is now open for the third annual Craft Spirits Packaging Awards! Presented by the American Craft Spirits Association and CRAFT SPIRITS magazine—and sponsored by the Glass Packaging Institute—the competition celebrates excellence and creativity in the design of craft spirits labels and packaging. Medalists will be announced at ACSA’s 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show in February and will be featured in the March/April 2023 issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine. Entries will be judged by an independent panel of industry experts.

The deadline for entry is Oct. 14.

The competition is open to all producers of craft spirits. No physical samples are required for entry (some winning entries may be asked to ship samples for photography). International entries are welcome.

Packaging companies and/or designers may enter on behalf of craft spirits producers. Awards will be given to the distillery and credit will be given to the company/designer in CRAFT SPIRITS magazine.

A panel of design experts will judge labels and packaging in the following categories:

  • Brandy
  • Gin
  • Ready-to-Drink
  • Rum
  • Specialty Spirits
  • Vodka & Grain
  • Whiskey
  • Portfolio (Recognizing outstanding packaging across a range of three or more products. Must be entered separately from individual entries.)
  • Best in Show

Cost for ACSA Members: $40 per entry; $100 per portfolio entry

Cost for Non-members: $55 per entry; $140 per portfolio entry

Click Here to Enter

Sponsored by


ACSA Appoints Seasoned Strategic Hires to Guide 

Organization Into Next Phase of Growth

As ACSA approaches our tenth anniversary, we are proud to announce several strategic new hires. The expanded team will help lead us through our next decade of growth and service to the country’s craft spirits community.

We are pleased to announce the addition of Michael Walker as State Policy Advisor. In his new role, Walker will be identifying state legislative issues and liaising with state distillery guilds to develop legislative strategies. Walker joins ACSA’s legislative team with nearly 25 years of experience at the intersection of the public and private sectors, including more than 11 years serving in the legislative and executive branches of government. Most recently, he served for well over a decade with Constellation Brands as VP of its external affairs/public affairs department.

“I look forward to assisting the ACSA team and their passionate members navigate the dynamic state policy landscape the craft spirits industry operates in, as well as helping the organization accomplish their goals and objective,” Walker said.

Additionally, Kenneth Brady has been named our full-time Director of Membership and Marketing, responsible for nurturing and growing ACSA’s community of members and sponsors. He’ll also be developing and executing a marketing vision for ACSA. Brady previously served in a part-time capacity as ACSA’s Non-Dues Revenue and Marketing Strategist. He draws upon many years of experience in marketing, branding, communication/engagement, business development and membership in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, with past roles at associations, technology companies and a chamber of commerce.

“I am gratified to be part of the craft spirits community and will strive to elevate and promote the profession with great passion,” Brady said.

Also joining the team is Stephanie Sadri as Director of Meetings and Events. She is a familiar face within the craft spirits community, as Sadri has managed the logistics of ACSA’s events—including the annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show and Public Policy Conference—for several years as an employee of global meeting planning company Helms Briscoe. Sadri now joins the ACSA staff full time and she will be in charge of all things events, from planning to exhibitor development. This seasoned hospitality and events industry veteran has built her career at venues like Invesco Field—where she worked not only on Denver Broncos events, but on the Democratic National Convention—as well as Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Oxford Hotel and The Curtis Hotel. Sadri is Immediate Past President of Meeting Professionals Internationals (MPI), on whose board of directors she’s served for nine years. She’s also in the Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame and has been awarded Smart Meetings Planner of the Year, and the MPI Rising Star Award.

“I am beyond excited to join the team full time and continue to champion the amazing work that ACSA does for the incredibly vibrant craft spirits community,” Sadri said.

Walker, Brady and Sadri all officially assume their new roles starting Sept. 1.

“ACSA works day-in and day-out to enable craft spirits producers to operate in a business-friendly environment, from manufacturing through sales and distribution,” said ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrmann. “Equally important is engaging all stakeholders, with the goal of bringing together our vibrant community to learn and celebrate our innovation. Adding Michael, Ken, and Stephanie to the team will help fulfill those goals and move us to that next level.”

Finally, it is with mixed emotions that ACSA announces the departure of Carason Lehmann, who served for more than six years with the organization—most recently as Membership & Events Director—and has been instrumental in building ACSA to what it is today. Lehmann is embarking on the next chapter of her distinguished career as a wedding event planner at Soeur Events in Charleston, S.C. Her contributions to the association have been innumerable and Lehmann will be greatly missed by her ACSA colleagues.

“I am so thankful to Margie and ACSA for taking a chance on me six years ago,” Lehmann said. “It is extremely bittersweet to be leaving such an incredible organization, especially the members, who I’ve been able to build connections with throughout the years. I’ve learned a tremendous amount and it has fueled my lifetime love and passion for good hospitality.”



Q&As with Lucy Farber, Mark A. Vierthaler and Kelly Woodcock

In the latest issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine, we checked in with the newest members of ACSA’s Board of Directors: Lucy Farber of St. George Spirits in Alameda, California; Mark A. Vierthaler of Whiskey Del Bac in Tucson, Arizona; and Kelly Woodcock of Westward Whiskey in Portland, Oregon. Below is an excerpt of those Q&As.

CRAFT SPIRITS: As a newly elected member, what are your top priorities for the coming year or two?

Farber: I would like to see the group use the power of our growing membership to address issues which affect us all—both large ones such as DtC, and small practical ones such as the cost of shipping those packages. As well as the challenges with label and formula approvals, and outdated federal regulations which are mostly ignored, yet can suddenly be randomly enforced or called out during an audit.

Vierthaler: I believe one of the key functions of a new board member is to get up to speed as quickly as possible. We (ACSA) are going to be celebrating a decade of advocacy and support for the craft spirits industry next year. That means catching up on a decade’s worth of impact-work, plus learning our current goals, tactics and implementation plans. The overarching issues to focus on will be furthering DtC legislation and work towards parity with the wine industry, as well as concerted efforts to open our doors to underrepresented groups. As a bearded white guy, I recognize the majority of our industry looks like me. We can utilize our positions of privilege to elevate others’ voices and work towards eliminating the hurdles of entry for others.

Woodcock: I’m really excited to continue working on DtC issues across all states helping to provide more distilleries access to this critical business-building tool. At Westward, since the pandemic, we’ve really learned how critical DtC can be in building our business and I want everyone to have parity access.

CRAFT SPIRITS: Any advice or words of wisdom for your peers in the distilling community?

Farber: Be flexible. Pay a ton of attention to details. Strive for something special. Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t make it right, or legal. Don’t be in it just for the money. Enjoy the ride.

Vierthaler: Be willing to fail. The head of operations at the first distillery where I cut my teeth would often say, “Distilling is 75% science and 25% magic.” What he meant was, taking risks and making mistakes is how you build an amazing product and an amazing brand. But only if you’re taking the time to track how and why things failed, and then pivot from there.

Keep your ego in check. There’s always someone out there more talented than you. More driven than you. More successful than you. I’ve been in the spirits industry for more than a decade—distilling for almost half of that. Every time I feel I have an expert’s grasp on something, I either meet someone with exponentially more knowledge than me. Or I spectacularly screw something up. Be confident in your abilities and know when to stand your ground. But don’t ever think you know everything. That’s how you stagnate as a distiller and never grow past where you are now. The day you wake up and say, “I think everything is absolutely perfect,” is the day to retire.

Woodcock: This is a hard one. I’m not sure what to say except that what we are all doing is really hard. Building a small business and being a craft distillery are both enormously challenging on their own but we have this community within ACSA that can help us all be stronger individually. That excites me and I hope it’s exciting for all of us.
Click Here to Read the Complete Q&As


Read the Latest Issue of CRAFT SPIRITS Magazine

The July/August issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine is here, and our cover story explores the current state of on-premise two years after the pandemic began. This issue also features stories about barrel recipes, NFTs tied to spirits and more.

Click Here to Read the Latest Issue

Join Us in the V.I.P. Lounge
Our V.I.P. Lounge members receive each issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine one week early, and our $40- and $60-per-year supporters are invited to virtual meet-and-greets with craft spirits icons, like our recent hangout with Lisa Wicker of Widow Jane. To unlock additional bonuses, like a set of CRAFT SPIRITS-branded Glencairn glasses, join us in the V.I.P. Lounge today.
Click Here to Join the V.I.P. Lounge

Download the CRAFT SPIRITS Magazine Media Kit
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.

Download the Media Kit

Share Your Story With CRAFT SPIRITS Magazine
If you’re not already sending news and updates about product releases and general happenings at your distillery, please add to your mailing list.


ACSA extends a warm welcome to our new and returning members and sponsors:

Find out more about becoming a member here.

Did You Know?

The TTB has issued 4,272 DSPs! Find the full list by clicking on Spirit Producers and Bottlers here.

Don’t miss these upcoming drink holidays:

  • Sept. 1: National Bourbon Heritage Month
  • Sept. 10: International Canned Cocktail Day
  • Sept. 13: National Cachaça Day
  • Sept. 15: National Crème de Menthe Day
  • Sept. 20: National Rum Punch Day

©2024 American Craft Spirits Association; All Rights Reserved. Member Owned, Industry Driven.

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