The Monthly Mash: December 2023

Volume 8.12

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:

At this time of year, I’m uncertain whether I should be looking back, as media suggests in its “Best of 2023” features, or looking ahead and setting goals for 2024. When my daughters were young, I would spend an entire afternoon with a girlfriend drafting, contrasting and comparing resolutions for the year ahead. Unfortunately, many carried over year after year, with little progress being made. I was determined to drink the right amount of water daily, awaken at 5 a.m. to pack in an hour of exercise before my little ones awakened, read at least two books a month, and carve out time to volunteer. Funny, as I commit to new resolutions, I am undeterred and believe that in the year 2024, I WILL drink the right amount of water; I WILL find time to read two books (and/or publications such as CRAFT SPIRITS magazine); I WILL discover an hour of exercise before I begin the day has a positive impact; and I WILL work with the most amazing ACSA and STEPUP Foundation volunteers.

Look back on our 10th anniversary year with this retrospective of the many special activities we introduced. But keep reading to see what is up ahead, from our awards programs to our annual distillers’ convention and vendor trade show. Don’t miss out on the early bird discount which expires on Dec. 30!

If you resolve to find more time to volunteer, consider a position on the ACSA Board of Directors. Nominations are open and await you tossing your name into the hat. If you want an easier task, complete the membership survey now to let us know what is important to you. Learn how others have volunteered through the STEPUP Foundation announcement.

You’ve told us market channel access is important. Learn how DtC can be a win-win for all parties involved by registering and attending the upcoming ACSA/Sovos Ship Compliant webinar.

Don’t be caught in the dark with compliance matters. Read a primer on recycling matters in New Jersey and California. Also, make sure to review the TTB announcement regarding end-of-year reporting.

Wishing you an especially happy, healthy and prosperous new year in 2024. For those who make resolutions, wishing you much success in accomplishing those goals. And, if you’ve mastered the appropriate daily water intake, I’m open to any suggestions!




Nominations Open for ACSA Board of Directors

Do you see problems within the spirits industry? Do you want to commit to helping solve them? Join ACSA’s Board of Directors! We are accepting nominations until Feb. 5, 2024.

Members of the ACSA Board of Directors play an integral role in shaping the craft spirits industry. Throughout a three-year term, each member shares a common goal of carrying out ACSA’s mission to elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers.

The voting membership will elect five board seats in March 2024. ACSA expresses its gratitude for the following directors whose terms will expire upon election and certification of the new board in April 2024:

  • Gina Holman, J. Carver Distillery, MN (Central/Mountain region)
  • Jake Holshue, Spirit Works Distillery, CA (Pacific region)
  • Colin Keegan, Sante Fe Spirits, NM (Central/Mountain region)
  • Jessica J. Lemmon, Cart/Horse Distilling, PA (East region)
  • Tom Potter, New York Distilling Co. NY (East region)

For questions, contact ACSA Election Chair, Renee Bemis (Driftless Glen, WI) at

Learn More About Nominations


Last Chance to Save with Early Bird Rates

ACSA’s 11th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show is just two months away! Join us in Denver, Colorado, Feb. 26-28, where our theme, MOVING MOUNTAINS TO HELP YOU SUCCEED, is all about reaching new heights by working together to secure a bright future for craft spirits. You won’t want to miss this convention!

For the best rates, register by Dec. 30 for early bird discounts. ACSA members also get a deep savings!*

This is the place where producers and the top industry suppliers connect to find solutions to specific business issues and complex challenges within the craft spirits community. Learn from the industry’s best and brightest, who will share their wisdom. From distillers, owners, marketing teams, front of the house, bottlers, brand managers, and sales teams, to equipment and ingredient purveyors, label designers, packaging experts, insurance and compliance experts, to educators and learners, among others … there’s something for anyone who is invested in craft spirits.

*Please note that ACSA members must login to access discounted rates.

Need to join or renew? Click here or contact us.

Register Now

Program at a Glance

A detailed agenda of the event is coming soon. Here’s a quick glance at what’s in store:

Sunday, Feb. 25

*Distillery 101 Course (Day 1)

*Distillery Tour: North Denver

Distillery Tour: Central Denver

Committee Meetings

Vendor Set Up

STEPUP Graduation (by invitation only)

Monday, Feb. 26

*Distillery 101 Course (Day 2)

Vendor Trade Show

Meet the Candidates Breakfast

TTB Bootcamp

Guild Meeting

PAC Reception

Off-Site Welcome Reception

Tuesday, Feb. 27

Vendor Trade Show

Education Tracks

Awards Luncheon

Spirits Tasting Hospitality Suite

Wednesday, Feb. 28

Education Tracks

Keynote and Town Hall

Closing Reception

*Additional fees apply.

Reserve Your Room at the Hyatt Regency

Reserve your room today at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center and join the community of craft spirits producers and suppliers at ACSA’s 11th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show.

The hotel is conveniently located across the street from the convention center in the heart of downtown Denver.

Please note that this is our official block with the hotel, and ACSA does NOT use third parties to reserve or book hotel rooms for our annual convention.

Book Your Hotel Stay

Get Your Brand in Front of Top Craft Spirits Producers

If you’re going to invest in and attend only one industry event in 2024, this is it! ACSA attracts decision makers, business owners, distillers, key DSP team members, and suppliers. This is ACSA’s hallmark event, providing you with robust educational opportunities, business connections, networking and a lot of fun! Check out our convention sponsorship opportunities.

See Sponsorship Opportunities


Judging for ACSA Competitions Begins in January

Thanks to everyone who entered ACSA’s Judging of Craft Spirits and the Craft Spirits Packaging Awards! An esteemed panel of judges will blind-taste spirits for the 10th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits on Jan. 9-10. A HUGE shout-out to Soujourn Imports and LibDib for providing services to enable products to deliver to Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse in Denver, the host for the competition. Also in January, another panel of judges will evaluate all entries in the Fourth Annual Craft Spirits Packaging Awards, which is presented by ACSA and CRAFT SPIRITS magazine, and sponsored by the Glass Packaging Institute.

Medals for both competitions will be announced at ACSA’s 11th Annual Convention and Vendor Trade Show in Denver this February.

ACSA, Elected Officials Honor Tobacco Barn Distillery

ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman (left) and former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (right) with Dan Dawson, Scott Sanders and Sean Coogan of Tobacco Barn Distillery
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, U.S. Congressman and former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Kevin M. Atticks joined ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman this month in formally honoring Tobacco Barn Distillery with the 2023 Heartland Whiskey Competition’s Top Farmer-Distiller award at Tobacco Barn’s tasting room in Hollywood, Maryland. Tobacco Barn, the inaugural recipient of the Farmer-Distiller award, received a custom wooden plaque produced by Thousand Oaks Barrel Co. of Manassas, Virginia.

“You cannot understand the history of American whiskey without understanding Maryland’s role. The team at Tobacco Barn Distillery has reached back into our history and used it to inspire a new era of leadership in the whiskey business not just here at home, but all across the country,” said Gov. Moore. “I’m proud to support Maryland’s whiskey industry and the excellent work being done across Maryland’s agricultural sector.”

The Heartland Whiskey Competition, generously sponsored by state corn marketing associations, took place in early August, in St. Louis. ACSA facilitated the judging process and its recent Board President Chris Montana, owner of Du Nord Social Spirits in Minneapolis—served as Judging Director. Judges selected from the Missouri and Illinois spirits industry by ACSA were chosen for their knowledge of craft whiskey.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signs a barrel while Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Kevin M. Atticks and Scott Sanders of Tobacco Barn Distillery look on.


New Recycling Laws in California and New Jersey Begin in 2024

New recycling laws in California and New Jersey will take effect in 2024. As we approach the new year, we asked Michael Walker, ACSA’s state policy advisor, to outline how these laws will affect craft spirits producers who make spirits or sell spirits into these states.
Learn More


2024 Tax Return and Report Due Dates Now Available

The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recently reminded all TTB-regulated industry members that they may be responsible for paying federal excise taxes and filing operational reports. Click here to view the schedule of due dates.


We’d Like to Hear From You

If you’re a member of ACSA, you should have received an email with a quick online survey. As 2023 comes to a close, we’d like to know what you’d like to see more of from ACSA. The survey should only take 10 minutes to complete. Your data will be collected anonymously, and will only be used by ACSA. Help us make 2024 our best year yet. Your honest feedback is invaluable to our board members and staff.

If you didn’t receive the survey, please reach out to


Celebrating the Distillers’ Decade

This year, ACSA celebrated its 10th anniversary and we honored the milestone with exciting events and programs each month. Here’s a quick review of some of the highlights:
January: Episodes of The Craft Spirits Podcast featured a special series of conversations with some of the founding members and first board members of ACSA.
February: ACSA held its 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show in Portland, Oregon. All attendees received a printed issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine that included a timeline of the past 10 years.
June: We released “The ACSA Guide to Starting and Operating a Distillery,” e-book. 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.

August: We announced the medalists from the Heartland Whiskey Competition

October: The country’s top craft spirits producers poured for consumers and select members of the trade during the first-ever American Craft Spirits Festival at Binny’s Beverage Depot in Chicago.
November: Forty of the country’s craft spirits producers and industry partners ascended Capitol Hill Nov. 8 to engage legislators on key federal priorities during the American Craft Spirits Association’s (ACSA) Legislative Fly-In in Washington, D.C.
December: On Dec. 5, we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the passing of the 21st Amendment in a virtual toast via Zoom. Thanks to our toastmasters Lew Bryson (author, “Tasting Whiskey” and “Whiskey Master Class”), Gina Holman (J. Carver Distillery, ACSA board president) and Amy Stewart (author, “The Drunken Botanist”).

As we begin ACSA’s second decade, we are thankful to all of our members, advisors, staff and volunteers who have helped build our foundation over the past 10 years!

There’s Still Time to Be a Part of Our 10th Anniversary Time Capsule

You still have a chance to be a part of history and submit your items for ACSA’s 10th Anniversary Time Capsule. We’re looking for any small memento from your business from the past 10 years, a token that captures your specific place in our dynamic industry. Examples include the following:

  • Business cards
  • Press releases
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Collateral materials (including leave-behinds that you’ve used with your state legislature)
  • Labels
  • Tasting room cocktail or sample/flight menus
  • Drone photo of your distillery (please label)
  • Hand sanitizer labels
  • Company newsletters
  • Printed convention programs from ACSA’s inaugural convention in Denver in 2014
  • A branded paper coaster
  • Photo of your branded merchandise
  • Small branded merchandise (such as keychains, pens, stickers, temporary tattoos, etc.)
  • Branded closures

Space is limited, so please ensure all contributions are on the small side.

PLEASE NOTE: Do NOT submit anything breakable, such as bottles or glassware. We also cannot accept any actual alcohol products.

Send your contributions to:

American Craft Spirits Association

Attn: Time Capsule

P.O. Box 470

Oakton, VA 22124


STEPUP Foundation Announces Third Class of Interns, Mentors, Participating Distilleries and New Donor Partners

ACSA and the Spirits Training Entrepreneurship Program for Underrepresented Professionals (STEPUP Foundation) are proud to announce the third class of interns, mentors, and participating distilleries, along with several new funding partners for the upcoming 2024 class.

Donor Partners

The STEPUP internship program is primarily funded through Cornerstone Partners and other major donors. As the program gears up for its third year, the organization welcomes a host of generous new donations from partners across all tiers of the industry and distillers small and large. Newly added donors at the Bricklayer level in 2023 include: DuNord Foundation, Sagamore Spirit Distillery, Catoctin Creek Distilling Co., Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery, Westward Whiskey and Prestige-Ledroit Distributing Co. These new contributors join STEPUP’s existing donors like Diageo North America, which serves as a Cornerstone Partner and has made a $1.2 million commitment over three years.


The 2024 STEPUP interns include Alexcia Pugh and Erica Paul. Pugh hails from Birmingham, Alabama, where she started a career in research and development in the solubility division with a focus in oncology. A graduate of Dillard University, Pugh is thrilled to use her skillset, passion for formulation, and her wish to add a different outlook to the craft spirits industry to turn her hobbyist interest in spirits into a career. Paul’s journey into craft spirits started with a sensory evaluation and urban planning course at Alabama A&M University. Following internships and employment opportunities with leading food manufacturers and more, she has a plan to merge agriculture and food science with craft spirits. She aims to use alternative farming methods to craft a sustainable spirit that embodies the intricacies of her journey.


Returning once again as a host distillery, Baltimore-based Sagamore Spirit Distillery is driven to craft the world’s best rye whiskey. As a champion of American rye whiskey and inspired by Maryland rye, its mission is to establish Sagamore Spirit as the premier distiller of the modern American spirit.

Black Button Distilling of Rochester, New York, was founded in 2012 by master distiller Jason Barrett and was the first distillery to operate in “The Flour City” since Prohibition. As a grain-to-glass craft spirits producer, Black Button is a licensed New York State farm distillery and uses nearly 100% New York State-grown ingredients that come from within 50 miles of the distillery.


Melinda Maddox, production manager for Old Elk Distillery, has more than two decades of management in the hospitality industry under her belt and is working toward a decade of operations and production management. Maddox is currently on the path to becoming Old Elk’s master blender. She was a finalist in the 2023 Women of Whiskey Awards for Production Manager of the Year.

Formerly a master distiller and general manager at Bently Heritage Estate Distillery & Public House, Johnny Jeffery is now utilizing his wealth of experience in the spirits industry as an independent consultant with Feiba Peveli LLC. Jeffery is a former ACSA board member, Good Deeds co-founder, contributor to the STEPUP curriculum and a member of the first STEPUP Selection Committee.


As a top wine and spirits distributor in the nation, Republic National Distributing Company’s (RNDC) national reach helps suppliers by building strategic relationships with on- and off-premise customers to elevate their brands and reach their target consumers. RNDC currently operates in the District of Columbia and 37 states across the United States, with the expected addition of the New York market in 2022.

Learn More


Free Webinar: DtC Shipping Can Be a Win-Win-Win

When: Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, 3-4 p.m. Eastern

Who: Michael Walker, ACSA State Policy Advisor; Alex Koral, Sovos ShipCompliant; and Margie A.S. Lehrman, ACSA CEO

What: Please join ACSA and Sovos ShipCompliant for a conversation about the opportunity that direct-to-consumer (DtC) spirits shipping presents for the industry as a whole. This webinar will be of interest to craft spirits producers who see the growth opportunity that DtC spirits shipping represents and are eager to learn more about how to help regulators see the win-win-win opportunity.

Cost: Complimentary to ACSA members and non-members alike

Register Now

Free Webinar From Our Archives: Changing Lives with Challenging Conversations

Research has shown that understanding the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, and reaching out to someone at risk, can be the difference in saving a life. But talking about difficult subjects like depression and suicide can be scary and uncomfortable. In this webinar, participants will learn how to have these difficult conversations and help connect someone at risk with life-saving care. You do not have to be a mental health professional to help save a life. This webinar, presented by Matt Vogl, will give you the confidence and skills to help you do just that.
See Webinar


Read the New Issue of CRAFT SPIRITS Magazine

The latest issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine includes:

  • A cover story exploring packaging considerations for producers of spirits-based RTDs
  • Insights and best practices for kegged cocktails
  • Details on the latest operations software for craft distilleries
  • And much more!
Read the Issue
Want to receive each issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine early?

ACSA members and V.I.P. Lounge members receive each digital issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine the week before the rest of our readership.

Check Out 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 NEW 2024 media kit to see what’s in store.

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 4,759 DSPs! Find the full list by clicking on Spirit Producers and Bottlers here.

Don’t miss these upcoming drink holidays:

  • Jan. 1: National Bloody Mary Day
  • Jan. 11: National Hot Toddy Day
  • Jan. 17: National Hot Buttered Rum Day
  • Jan. 25: National Irish Coffee Day
  • Jan. 31: Brandy Alexander Day

Social Media

Follow our social media channels and tweet at us (@craftspiritsus)tag us on Instagram, connect with us on LinkedIn, follow us on YouTube or post to our Facebook Page and we’ll be sure to share it!

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

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