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:
You cannot turn on a news program without being reminded that leadership is hard, particularly in today’s environment. Peace, stability, economies, environments and public health are but a few of the massive challenges facing our leaders, both domestically and abroad. Living near the U.S. Capitol, I often wonder if being an elected official is worth it—the stress of solving problems big and small; the missed time with family and friends; the salary compared to what is being asked; the rancor and animosity hoisted by those on opposite sides of the issue; and the sheer volume of daily demands. Surely, one can find better things to do.
It got me thinking about why anyone runs for office. Power, limelight, fame, ego, anger, self-worth or simple opportunity might be motivators. I want to believe, however, that others seek office because of a strong desire to make a difference—to help better the world in which we live. These individuals see a noble calling.
ACSA will soon conduct its election for its national board of directors with the nominees due by midnight on March 8. The current board, like elected bodies everywhere, has faced significant challenges. Reduction in the federal excise tax (FET) rate was no easy task and took years of educating Congress to its significance for your small businesses. Direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipping is high on the list of new opportunities and ACSA leadership understands the battle ahead. Other modernization steps are needed to help us compete. While the overall discussions and decisions for our craft spirits industry may not be as daunting as solving humanitarian crises, the decisions are nonetheless critical to moving our industry forward. ACSA board members must be strategic thinkers, know how to fund and divide resources, show diplomacy and give valuable time.
I know there are many more members of our DSP community who can and should run for office. I know there are many more members who have what it takes to lead us into the next phase of our spirited industry. This is my personal plea to consider running for a position on the board of directors. For more details, read below.
As always, there are other opportunities to engage with ACSA and support the organization that supports you. Submit your spirits in our judging competition (and tolearn more about last year’s Best in Show honoree, read an article from CRAFT SPIRITSmagazine or listen to an episode of The Craft Spirits Podcast). Register and come to our annual convention and vendor trade show in July. Attend a webinar. And learn more about one of our sponsors, Amoretti.
Reflect on your own noble calling and determine if it is time for you to self-nominate for a board seat. Leadership is hard, but working collectively lessens the pain and provides unparalleled pride and satisfaction.
March 8th Deadline Nears for Board of Directors Nominations
Memorable leaders have commonalities: They know how to motivate, inspire and are visionaries for change. The ACSA Board of Directors will soon conduct its national elections to fill five board seats, with openings in the East, Central/Mountain and Pacific regions. Here are some things to keep in mind as you contemplate whether you should run.
Am I qualified to run?
At a minimum, if you own, work at/for a distillery which is an ACSA member in good standing, you are qualified to run. Keep in mind that the board is a body in which the whole is equal to the sum of its parts. That means that we are looking for complements to the members who already serve (see a complete list of our Board of Directors below).
As a reminder, the terms of office are expiring for:
To be clear, we are seeking broad representation with clear, independent thinkers—people who can represent a wide variety of interests and views. Visionaries. Strategic thinkers. Members of communities previously underrepresented.
How long is the term of office?
The term is for three years and will begin when the board is installed sometime in April.
How many meetings will I need to attend?
On average, there are five meetings per year with an in-person meeting during our annual convention. There is also a board retreat which may or may not be in person, depending upon the pandemic and ability to travel.
How much time does it really take?
It depends entirely upon the committees on which you serve or if you will play an additional leadership role. Some board members provide hours of time each week while others may spend a few hours per month. The more members who work and work hard, the greater the accomplishments.
I’m busy with my distillery; why should I join the ballot?
All board members are busy with their distilleries. That’s the point of ACSA; we are a trade group formed and guided by active craft distilleries.
Is there a financial obligation?
Technically no. However, full board participation in our offerings is both encouraged and anticipated.
We’re headed to New Orleans on July 21-24, 2022, for the 9th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show, but there is only one month to save on registration with our early bird rates. ACSA is planning a stellar convention with three-plus days in the Crescent City, where you will gain from tailored educational content from top professionals (see below for a sneak peek) and have opportunities to mix and mingle with suppliers and friends in our craft spirits community! Register now, and we can’t wait to see you in New Orleans this summer!
WHEN: July 21-24
WHERE: New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Early Bird Rates (now until April 1)
Member Attendee: $625*
Additional Member Attendees (from same distillery): $425 per person*
Non-Member Attendee: $825
Additional Non-Member Attendees (from same distillery): $475 per person
*ACSA members must be logged into ACSA’s website to receive discounted attendee pricing. If you have trouble logging into your ACSA account please contact Carason Lehmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a reminder, ACSA affiliate members receive a 10% discount on their vendor trade show booth. If you have any questions regarding exhibitor registration or need the discount code, please contact Ashley Guillermo at email@example.com or 702-301-7802.
We’ve lined up nearly 40 hours of convention education for you to strengthen your knowledge in tracks including business, technical and sales/marketing. We are still in the process of approving presentations, but here’s a sneak peek of confirmed* sessions:
Build the Brand Organically: Plowing Through the Drudgery of Sales – Robin Robinson (Brand Sherpa, Author, Educator) and Rose Robinson (Market Manager, NY, Hotaling & Co.)
Responding to the Poor 2021 Malting Barley Harvest: Tying Analytical Observations to Impacts in the Distillery – Gabe Toth (The Family Jones) and Harmonie Bettenhausen (Hartwick College Center for Craft Food and Beverage)
Managing the Finance & Accounting Function at a Craft Distillery – Tyee Carr (Westward Whiskey)
*Note: convention education schedule is subject to changes.
Looking for More Education?
Register now for ACSA’s New Distillery Start-Up 101 Pre-Convention Class on July 20-21. This two-day class will address topics including basic distillery safety; equipment selection; oak extraction and aging; material selection; flavor chemistry and biochemistry; pros and cons of tasting rooms; working with distributors; building a sales team; general business management; and MUCH MORE! Learn more here.
Book Your Hotel in New Orleans
Stay in downtown New Orleans at ACSA’s host hotel, Hilton New Orleans Riverside hotel, and enjoy the prime location on the banks of the Mississippi River, adjacent to New Orleans Convention Center and steps from the French Quarter. Stay in a spacious guest room with views of the vibrant city or relaxing riverfront.
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.
Time is running out to enter ACSA’s 9th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits competition! Sign up before or on March 15 to save $25 per entry. The final deadline for entries is March 25, and all spirits must be received by March 31. We’re headed to High Wire Distilling Co. in Charleston, South Carolina, this April 5-6 for your spirits to be tasted and evaluated by a panel of top professionals in the following categories:
Specialty Spirits (absinthe, agave-based products, amaro, aquavit, liqueurs and shochu)
Checking In With 2021 Best In Show Honoree: Milam & Greene
Wondering what it means to capture a gold medal and Best in Show honors in ACSA’s Judging of Craft Spirits? In the latest issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine, we profiled Milam & Greene Whiskey of Blanco, Texas, whose Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Port Wine Casks took top honors in last year’s competition.
“That award,” says Milam & Greene CEO Heather Greene, “was just so special because it was like … ‘this team, they know what they’re doing.’”
We also chatted with the Greene for a recent episode of The Craft Spirits Podcast. Read and listen to learn more about the creation of this artfully finished spirit.
Last week, ACSA hosted its quarterly roundtable with state distilling guilds. Co-chairs P.T. Wood (Wood’s High Mountain Distillery in Salida, Colorado) and Gina Holman (J. Carver Distillery in Waconia, Minnesota) presided over the meeting via Zoom. In addition to ACSA programs, events and initiatives, the group discussed food safety inspections and recent news from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s report on competition and the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
ACSA, Hospitality Sector Held Day of Action for RRF
Also last week, ACSA and other leaders in the hospitality sector called on industry advocates across the country to participate in the #HelpHospitality Day of Action to urge their members of Congress to provide additional funding for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).
“The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provided critical relief to a wide range of hospitality businesses severely impacted by the pandemic including community restaurants and bars, and distilleries, breweries, wineries, cideries and meaderies with tasting rooms,” the coalition said. “The federal program was hugely successful, but the demand far exceeded the available funds.”
Day of Action participants called, tweeted and emailed their members of Congress to urge them to cosponsor the Continuing Emergency Support for Restaurants Act (S. 2675) and include the legislation in the upcoming government spending package.
Treasury Releases Competition Report for Alcohol Market
The U.S. Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, released a new report this month on competition in the markets for beer, wine, and spirits.
While commending the proliferation of new firms over the last several decades, the report also details challenges to the growth of small businesses and new entrants into the marketplace. It contains a series of recommendations to better level the playing field for small businesses and new marketplace entrants by enforcing existing laws that promote competition and modernizing outdated alcohol regulations. The report, Competition in the Market for Beer, Wine and Spirits, is a product of Executive Order 14036, Promoting Competition in the American Economy.
“We’re very pleased that the Biden administration has listened to the concerns of small independent distilleries,” said Margie A.S. Lehrman, CEO of the American Craft Spirits Association. “We believe the report will initiate the federal government and state governments to take a fresh look at antiquated alcohol laws that are working against small businesses and curtailing access to our products for consumers.”
Last August, ACSA submitted comments to the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in response to the executive order. (Click here to see the comments.)
The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) this month published a final rule that will implement Phase 2 of its rulemaking on modernization of the labeling and advertising regulations for distilled spirits and malt beverages. Click here to learn more.
In the rule, TTB noted that it received comments in support of including American Single Malt Whiskey as a standard of identity. However, the rule states that “because these issues were not specifically put forward for comment in Notice No. 176, the public and the industry were not given an opportunity to comment on the standards of identity suggested by the petitioners. TTB has determined that actions on these petitions would be premature without seeking public comment on the petitioned-for standards of identity. Accordingly, TTB will consider these comments for future rulemaking.”
Important Year Ahead; 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.
What: As the world emerges from restrictions, a new customer culture is taking shape. A culture that will drive advantage, hospitality and retail revenues for the distilleries that recognize the opportunity on their doorstep. In this webinar, we take a look at how regeneration, community resilience and movements like the 15-minute city are driving the redesign of the visitor experience and the strategy for the newest of urban distilleries in high density areas.
Nearly 30 years ago, the Barsoumian family (a pair of brothers and their wives) teamed up to start a company. From humble beginnings, they grew Amoretti into the ultimate pastry, savory and beverage ingredient manufacturing company. We recently caught up with Debra Coletti, Amoretti’s product consultant & account manager, to learn more about the company’s offerings.
ACSA: What does the company name Amoretti mean?
Debra Coletti: Amoretti is a play on amore. Amoretti is the result of dedication, hard work and very long hours. Amoretti is like a child to the Barsoumian family, so they named the company Amoretti (their little love).
Is it true that the company’s original vision was to sell a truffle that never came to market, and you all have since gone on to have thousands of products?
Yes, our first product was a truffle with an amazing almond filling and a pistachio crust. Although the truffle was not our best success, the almond filling was. Customers requested that we make it in bulk. It subsequently became item No. 1 for us. Over the years, customers have requested we make other specialty items and we obliged. We now have close to 5,000 items, most in 6-7 pack sizes.
Do cooking and baking products make up the bulk of your products? When did Amoretti expand into beverage products?
Sweet treats remain to be a staple business for us. Bakeries, chocolatiers, ice cream manufacturers, coffee shops and savory chefs continue to purchase the bulk of our ingredients although the scales are starting to even out with increased demand from the craft market. We entered the alcoholic beverage market around 2015. When we saw that breweries were using our ingredients, we realized there was an untapped market to grow in. We now supply thousands of breweries worldwide with some of our finest ingredients.
Which of your products do craft distillers and/or cocktail bars typically gravitate towards, and how are they using them?
Craft distillers usually find the most success with our extracts. Because there is no sugar and no color, they tend to be the easiest to work with. While our Artisans and Craft Purees give phenomenal flavor, the natural colors in them do not allow the same shelf life that many distilled spirits would normally have. We also make two amazing drink mix lines, the Beverage Infusions and our Martini Mixes, that are great for tasting rooms and bars. The shelf stable bottles provide a fresh fruit flavor without requiring refrigeration.
What’s the best way to search/buy your products?
Amoretti.com is the best resource with product info, package sizes, digital brochures and testimonials. We are available through Amazon, as well, for those who need their orders quickly.
We have some great options for cocktails. Our hopes will be to get some video footage at distilleries as a resource to others. COVID has limited our visits to customers and has delayed this project. We hope to have it up and running again in the next few months.
Are there any upcoming products you’re excited about and/or able to tell us more about?
The Beverage Infusion line is by far my favorite. We historically have not made too many “combo” flavors but we have broken the mold with the Beverage Infusion line. Strawberry Lemonade tastes like something your southern grandma made you as a child. The Prickly Pear Lime is like nothing you have ever experienced. We’ll soon have an Irish Coffee, Moscow Mule and Mojito that I’m stoked to try. Aside from this line, I’m excited to see what distillers are coming out with. I’ve been sending a lot of samples for summer- and fall-flavored moonshines, so I can’t wait to see those!
The latest issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine is here, and it includes stories on the scarcity of glass bottles, jenever’s heritage, a closer look at the medalists from the second annual Craft Spirits Packaging Awards, and much more!
We are very pleased to announce the first of our series of virtual happy hours for V.I.P. Lounge supporters at the $40 and $60 levels. Craft spirits icon Lance Winters of St. George Spirits will be joining us for the first edition on Thursday, March 17, at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. Sign up for the V.I.P. Lounge to ensure that you get a chance to hang out with Lance via Zoom.
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.