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:
If you attended our 10th Anniversary Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show, the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) played a role in helping you live longer! I’m not kidding.
Apparently, celebrating every good thing—both large and tiny—helps us live a sustained life. It’s no secret that social support can contribute to our overall well being. According to a recent article in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, three key factors must be present to transfer that feeling of social support.
First, the event must mark personal achievement. Celebrating 10 years of our trade group’s dedication to helping you, our industry, move forward is super cool. If you were unable to join us in Portland, see what you missed by reading on.
Second, the event must involve food and drink. A big shout out to the Oregon Distillers Guild for hosting a spectacular happy hour and all those who submitted spirits to our ACSA Judging of Craft Spirits. Oh yes, between donuts and short ribs, we were indeed well fed. And how about that Crabby Snacks RTD?
And finally, the event must include other people in the celebration. I think the nearly 1,000 of us who gathered would agree that it was memorable for a variety of reasons. Take a good look at the photos below to see how education, ping pong, a concert and an anniversary video joined us in a salute to our craft spirits industry!
What new things will we be able to celebrate in future years? In large part, it depends on our governance. Our elections are now open for five Board of Directors seats. If you are a member in good standing, please take a moment to discuss the candidates with your team. What candidates will best advance your own interests?
Recognizing positive achievement is fundamental to creating social support and thus, enjoying a life of joy and happiness. Get involved with ACSA, especially now in our 10th anniversary year. If you are not a member, become one. If you haven’t submitted spirits in our judging competition, do so. If you haven’t attended a webinar, what are you waiting for? How about our CRAFT SPIRITSmagazine—are you a regular reader? And, if you haven’t registered and attended our ACSA convention, mark your calendar now to be in Denver next February 26-28. Until then, get to know your fellow distillers through committee involvement.
If you are an American craft spirits owner, investor, producer, employee or supplier, ACSA is THE trade group that has your back. We will be there for you to celebrate your success but even more importantly, in times of hardship, as has been demonstrated over the past decade. With your continued support, we will do everything we can to increase the lifespan of your business and your personal feeling of being supported. Promise!
ACSA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Elections Open to Fill Five Board Seats
The election for new members of the ACSA Board of Directors is opening with a deadline of March 20. This is your chance to exercise your right to vote and have a say in which leaders will fill five board seats for the next three years.
If you’re a non-member who wants to have a say in the future leadership of ACSA, there’s no time like the present to join us today so that you can vote next year!
Cheers to ACSA’s 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show
In early February, hundreds of members of the distilling community gathered in Portland, Oregon, to learn, network and celebrate the craft spirits industry at ACSA’s 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show. Together, we celebrated a decade of ACSA; explored a trade show floor budding with energy; learned countless tips and strategies to help craft distillers thrive during our educational sessions; mingled and made new friends at various networking events; and so much more! Here are a few highlights from the experience in and around the Oregon Convention Center.
On the trade show floor, more than 140 exhibitors displayed their latest offerings and products designed for producers of craft spirits. We opened the trade show floor one day before kicking off our educational sessions to give attendees ample time to visit booths.
Our educational sessions featured more than 30 hours of learning, covering a wide range of topics for everyone from a novice to the most seasoned attendees. The three main tracks included sessions on technical/production, sales/marketing and business/compliance. Prior to the convention, we also held a 1.5-day Distillery Startup 101 class.
Our agenda also included panels for Women of the Vine & Spirits and the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which conducted both a boot camp and a Q&A session over breakfast titled Rise and Regulate: Coffee and Conversation with TTB.
On the first evening of the convention, we welcomed some of ACSA’s key founders and past presidents for a spirited conversation on the association’s past, present and future. ACSA president Becky Harris moderated a panel that included Ralph Erenzo, co-founder of Tuthilltown Spirits; Paul Hletko, founder of FEW Spirits; Ted Huber, co-owner of Starlight Distillery; Pennfield Jensen, ACSA’s inaugural executive director; Tom Mooney, founder & CEO of Westward Whiskey; and Mark Shilling, founder of ShillingCrafted and partner in Big Thirst Consulting.
Craft Spirits Packaging Awards
During a luncheon, we announced the medalists of the third annual Craft Spirits Packaging Awards, which celebrates the best in craft spirits labels and packaging. CRAFT SPIRITS magazine editor in chief Jeff Cioletti emceed the awards and Scott DeFife, president of the Glass Packaging Institute, which sponsored the awards, announced that Best of Show honors go to James Ownby Reserve, a bourbon produced by Ole Smoky Distillery of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The complete list of medalists is available here on ACSA’s website, and photos of each medalist will be published in the March/April issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine.
Also during the awards luncheon, ACSA board members and staff surprised attendees with a rousing flash mob to the tune of “Brave” by Sarah Bareilles.
During lunch on the final day of the convention, ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman presided over a town hall meeting. Tom Mooney introduced keynote speaker and renowned bar industry personality Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who shared his story and offered advice on how craft distillers can work with bartenders. During the town hall, attendees heard from a wide range of ACSA board members, committee chairs, advisors and partners who provided updates on ACSA’s strategic plan, the Craft Spirits Data Project, education initiatives, ACSA’s PAC, potential legislation affecting craft spirits producers and much more.
Please Take a Few Minutes to Complete Our Town Hall Survey
During the town hall at our convention, we raised a few questions. To help us best serve the community of craft spirits producers, please take a few minutes to complete this survey, even if you already answered these questions as part of our convention survey.
Ashley Grayson, Erin Lee, Amy Salter and Yakntoro “Yaki” Udoumoh
In a small gathering, the STEPUP Foundation held its first graduation ceremony for inaugural interns: Erin Lee and Yakntoro “Yaki” Udoumoh. STEPUP also welcomed its second class and current 2023 interns, Ashley Grayson and Amy Salter. Westward Whiskey and the Woodlark Hotel also hosted a Happy Hour, Cocktails For A Cause, which donated all net proceeds ($3 per cocktail) to the STEPUP Foundation. Visit stepupinternship.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how to support or participate in the program.
Becky Harris, Kelly Woodcock, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, Margie A.S. Lehrman,
Tom Mooney, Steve Johnson and Oregon Rep. Rob Nosse
During a reception at Westward Whiskey for members of ACSA’s PAC, we raised our glasses to support our continuing efforts to strengthen the business environment for craft spirits producers. Special thanks to our guest speakers U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and Oregon Rep. Rob Nosse!
Networking and Social Events
Throughout the course of the convention, we offered numerous opportunities for attendees and exhibitors to network over drinks, hors d’oeuvres, singing and dancing. On our pre-convention distillery tour, we visited New Deal Distillery, McMenamins Edgefield Distillery, Westward Whiskey, Freeland Spirits, Stone Barn Brandyworks and Pilot House Distilling.
Near the end of the first day of the trade show, attendees enjoyed a happy hour hosted by the Oregon Distillers Guild where they could grab hors d’oeuvres, chat with our exhibitors and enjoy spirits from the Beaver State, with contributions from multiple Oregon distilleries.
To wrap up the first day, we held a hospitality suite where we sampled spirits that medaled in ACSA’s Judging of Craft Spirits Competition in 2020—the year we were originally supposed to be in Portland. We were thrilled to give those medalists the moment in the sun—and in our glasses—that a nascent pandemic unfairly denied them. Thanks again to the Oregon Distillers Guild for helping us ensure our event was fully in compliance with all local laws and regulations. We also enjoyed hearing our attendees sing karaoke!
At the legendary McMenamins Crystal Ballroom, we toasted to 10 years of ACSA as popular Portland-based singer/songwriter Ruby Friedman performed a private concert to mark the milestone.
To close the convention, we enjoyed rounds of ping pong and a Super Bowl party at Pips & Bounce, followed by a closing reception at Rogue Eastside Pub & Pilot Brewery where we celebrated all things craft spirits!
10th Anniversary RTD: Crabby Snacks
To help commemorate our 10th anniversary, a group of Oregon-based producers collaborated to concoct Crabby Snacks, an RTD riff on a classic Canadian Caesar, combining jalapeño lime-flavored vodka, crab juice and natural flavorings. Special thanks to everyone who made this happen, including Freeland Spirits, Pilot House Distilling, Rogue Spirits, Aimsir Distilling, Straightaway Cocktails, 503 Distilling and the Oregon Distillers Guild.
Add Your Mementos to Our Time Capsule
If you didn’t get a chance to add to our time capsule, it’s not too late!
As this is a milestone year for the association, we’d like to mark the occasion by collecting meaningful artifacts from this remarkable moment in time and sealing them in a time capsule. And we’d love for your memories to be a part of it. 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 business cards, press releases, labels, menus, etc.
Space is limited, so please ensure all contributions are on the small side, and please do NOT submit anything breakable, such as bottles or glassware. We also cannot accept any actual alcohol products.
Please send your submissions to:
P.O Box 470
Oakton, VA 22124
Special Thanks to Our Convention Sponsors
ACSA gratefully acknowledges the generosity of those who have provided support for our 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show, including:
Please save the date and join us next Feb. 26-28 for our 11th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show in Denver!
BETTER WITH AGE: ACSA’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY
Watch a Video Tribute to a Decade of ACSA
All year long, ACSA is celebrating the distillers’ decade as we mark our 10th anniversary. During the convention, we premiered a video with recollections from ACSA members and supporters. Click here or above to watch it now!
We’ll be celebrating all year long with a new initiative each month. We’ll welcome RTD Month in March. If you have any upcoming RTD releases in the works, please send a note to email@example.com with details and photos.
CRAFT SPIRITS CLASSROOM
Webinar: From Vines to Orchards & Everything in Between: Innovations in American Brandy
Tuesday, March 21, 3-4pm ET
Complimentary to ACSA members, $59 for non-members
Our panel of notable producers will explore the opportunities and challenges of expanding the homegrown U.S. brandy market, making a convincing case for fruit-based distillates—from American interpretations of traditional eau de vie to the wood-aged Stateside spiritual cousins of classic French products like Cognac and Calvados. We’ll ponder a veritable fruit stand of bases, whether grown on trees, bushes or vines.
Joe O’Sullivan, Master Distiller, Clear Creek Distillery/Hood River Distillers
Jeff Yosowitz: Founder/Owner/General Counsel, Star Union Spirits
Pre-Order ‘The ACSA Guide to Starting and Operating a Distillery’ E-Book
This spring, 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.
The February issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine is here, and our cover story celebrates a decade’s worth of key moments in the history of the American Craft Spirits Association. This issue also includes stories about the distilling scene in Portland, Oregon; espresso liqueurs; differences among oak species; and more.
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. To unlock additional bonuses, like a set of CRAFT SPIRITS-branded Glencairn glasses, join us in the V.I.P. Lounge today.
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.