The Monthly Mash: January 2022

The Monthly Mash

Volume 7.1

Member-Owned, Industry-Driven

ACSA 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:

I’m not a hoarder. Seriously, I am not. Just because I have mountains of books does not indicate I cannot and will not donate, gift or toss those relics no longer of use. The problem is that I truly believe my collection is key to my happiness. I recognize recipes are easily accessible on the internet, yet there is something incredibly pleasurable about curling up with a good hardcover cookbook, examining ingredient lists, evaluating steps for preparation, and salivating over colorful photos.

Also, why give away the literary classics? Isn’t their appeal timeless? Novels have the power to transport us to a different time and place, particularly appealing during the past couple years under the cloud of COVID. Language texts, legal treatises and leadership and management books round out my collection. Oh yes—there is also a pile of self-help annotated journals.

Why the focus on dismantling my library? January was my month to take stock and determine what is important, both on and off those office shelves. That exercise spanned both my personal and professional life. Whoosh—glad that it’s done! This month, we’re highlighting ACSA’s “classics” from our recently announced annual convention, to our Judging of Craft Spirits, to our Call for Nominations for the ACSA Board of Directors. You can also learn more about one of our sponsors (WV Great Barrel Company), read the new issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine and listen to the latest episode of our podcast.

With January soon in our rearview mirror, I’ve scheduled the month of February to take stock of my digital library, equally overrun with content. With literally thousands of saved emails, however, that is certain to be a harder task, maybe better suited to 2023? Let me know your secret for archiving and/or deleting electronic communications. Any advice to lend?



Call for Nominations Now Open

Do you have what it takes to serve on ACSA’s Board of Directors?

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.
ACSA expresses its gratitude for directors whose terms are about to expire:

  • Ryan Christiansen, Caledonia Spirits (Eastern)
  • VACANT (Eastern)
  • Amber Pollock, Backwards Distilling Co. (Central/Mountain)
  • Jeff Kanof, Copperworks Distilling Co. (Pacific)
  • Molly Troupe, Freeland Spirits (Pacific)
If you are interested in running for a board seat, please contact Election Chair, Renee Bemis, Driftless Glen, located in Wisconsin, at renee@driftlessglen.comYou may self-nominate or be suggested by another member of our craft spirits community. Renee will contact you for additional information, so please supply all relevant contact information.

Nominations must be received no later than Tuesday, March 8. National elections will take place shortly thereafter via electronic voting with board seats installed in April.

Benefits of serving as a volunteer leader include:

  • Playing a significant role as a thought leader in advancing the craft spirits industry. It continues to grow at an unprecedented rate (The most recent Craft Spirits Data Project estimates there are nearly 2,300 craft spirits producers now operating in the U.S.)
  • Having an opportunity to enhance the value of ACSA and the craft spirits community
  • Accessing up-to-date information about the challenges facing the alcohol industry
  • Exchanging ideas and perspectives with other DSPs
Desired attributes for the ideal candidates include:
  • Being committed and aligned with ACSA as a DSP voting member in good standing
  • Possessing relevant expertise in the disciplines of organizational management. Examples include: marketing, fundraising, guild or chapter relations, finance, lobbying, export and strategic supplier alliances
  • Committing to participate in 4-5 board meetings a year via teleconference and 1-2 in-person meetings. ACSA board members are asked to provide leadership support to governmental affairs, membership, education, convention, judging of craft spirits, DtC and, special events and/or campaigns
  • Demonstrating positive leadership attributes, including but not limited to emotional intelligence, ability to work collaboratively and engage in appropriate debate and discussion when needed
  • Being a visionary and strategic thinker as ACSA enhances membership services and benefits

Won’t you consider serving your industry community?

ACSA Sets Date for 9th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show

We’re thrilled to officially announce we’re headed to New Orleans on July 21-24, 2022, for the 9th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show. 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 and be given 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!

: July 21-24

: 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

10×10 (single booth) – $1,900
10×20 (double booth) – $3,300

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 or 702-301-7802.

Register Now for ACSA’s Judging of Craft Spirits

ACSA’s 9th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits competition is now open for entries! 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.

Register your spirits by Feb. 14 to save big with the early bird rate!

Fees for ACSA Members
Early Bird: $225 per entry
General Fee: $275 per entry
Late Riser: $300 per entry

Fees for Non-Members

Early Bird: $325 per entry
General Fee: $375 per entry
Late Riser: $400 per entry

General registration fees begin February 15 through March 15. The late-riser fee will be from March 16 until registration closes on March 25. All spirits must be received by March 31.

Submit your spirits in the following categories:

  • Brandy
  • Gin
  • Ready-to-Drink
  • Rum
  • Specialty Spirits (absinthe, agave-based products, amaro, aquavit, liqueurs and shochu)
  • Vodka & Grain
  • Whiskey

How to Enter

To enter, please complete the following steps:
  • ACSA members must be logged in to receive the discounted member rate. Login here.
  • If you’re not a member of ACSA, sign-up and save hundreds of dollars on competition fees, webinars, convention registration, and more!
If you forgot your login or need to check membership status, please contact

Judging Protocols & Submission Guidelines

  • While membership in ACSA is not a prerequisite for entering in the competition, to enter your spirits you must be eligible for voting membership as defined by ACSA.
  • ALL products must have a valid COLA from TTB.
  • You must identify whether your spirit is third party (using spirit distilled off-site) or Made from Scratch (distilled on premise).

How Distilleries Can Close the Books on Hand Sanitizer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is winding down its emergency guidance on hand sanitizer production and recently sent to distillers a notice of intent to inactivate outdated drug listing records. The notice is essentially the FDA telling distillers to clean up their books after the Dec. 31, 2021 deadline to cease production of hand sanitizer and ahead of the March 31, 2022 deadline to cease distribution of hand sanitizer. If you have ceased production and have yet to delist your product, deregister your company and deactivate your labeler code, please follow the instructions here.

ACSA Submits Comments to TTB

This month, ACSA submitted comments to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in support of its proposed Modernization of Permit and Registration Application Requirements for Distilled Spirits Plants. In addition to the comments, ACSA also proposed some reporting revisions above and beyond those contained in this proposed rulemaking.

ACSA Announces Change of Address

In case you missed it, ACSA is moving closer to our nation’s capital! You can now reach us at:
American Craft Spirits Association
P.O Box 470, Oakton, VA 22124

The 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.

Would you please consider a donation to the PAC of $500, $250, $100? Or give whatever you can afford so we can continue to support key candidates in 2022 and have the voice of craft distillers heard in the halls of government. The easiest way to engage and give is to go to our website and log in to ACSA and donate directly.*

Should you have any questions about ACSA’s PAC, or ACSA’s public policy initiatives, please write to
*Contributions to ACSA PAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Contributions from foreign nationals, federal government contractors, corporations and labor unions are prohibited. We are not soliciting contributions of more than $5,000 from individuals, or soliciting contributions from corporations, labor unions or other federally prohibited sources. Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year.

Q&A with Cate Crabtree of

WV Great Barrel Company

The idea for Caldwell, West Virginia-based WV Great Barrel Company was born after a flood in 2016 devastated the nearby city of White Sulphur Springs. We recently caught up with Cate Crabtree, the cooperage’s sales & marketing manager, to reflect on the company’s past and learn more about its offerings.

ACSA: It must be surreal to look back on the flood. What does WV Great Barrel Company mean to its community and West Virginia?

Cate Crabtree: Our founders realized during a massive volunteer flood recovery effort that they needed to do more than just rebuild homes if they wanted to effect long-term change in this region. They needed to create jobs. An economic driver. And a way to add value in West Virginia to a sustainable natural resource. But it’s more than that. I always say, the one thing I’ve learned from living and working in West Virginia for the past few years is this: If you want to make a real, positive impact on people’s lives, the best thing you can do is start in the place where you are.

It’s not just West Virginia, though. I think this is a message that the craft distilling community embraces and lives fully, so we’re in good company. We’re proud of our story, we’re proud of the commitment of our team, and we’re proud of what we set out to do and the way we’re doing it. This legacy is continuing today, in fact. One of our founders, Tom Crabtree, is in Mayfield, Kentucky, right now, guiding the leadership of Homes and Hope for Kentucky, as they follow the same path to recovery that was designed here in West Virginia after the 2016 flood.

You source tight grained Appalachian white oak from a 200-mile radius. What makes it ideal for aging spirits? And what’s your approach when it comes to sustainability?

These are important questions to us, to distillers, and to whisk(e)y drinkers. As Travis Hammond over at Smooth Ambler says, “It’s hard to be a tree in West Virginia.” That’s true for most of Appalachia. The terrain is mountainous and rocky, and the winters are cold. So the tree has to work a little harder, keep a little more sugar stored away for the winter, and grow a little more slowly. That means more growth rings per inch, or tighter grain. Tight grain means a higher concentration per square inch of wood sugars and flavor extractives that the spirit can reach as it travels into and out of the wood during aging. The sustainability piece is of course front of mind for us. As a company that was founded to create a brighter future for our community, we take stewardship of this land seriously. We’re engaged with state foresters and loggers who sustainably, selectively harvest with the health of the forest in mind. The white oak population in this region is growing faster than it’s being harvested, by a significant margin, so managing the forests is quite important. And then here at our cooperage, we’re continuously improving, and one of our focuses has been maximizing the percentage of wood from each tree that goes into the barrel.

What are some other ways, specifically as it relates to production, that make your barrels stand out?

Our infrared toast—and the way we’re making it accessible to every distiller on every barrel—is probably our most exciting innovation. To see the difference between a non-toasted barrel and an infrared-toasted barrel in a head-to-head comparison just after six months or a year—the color and flavor difference is pretty amazing. And more and more, distillers see the value of the infrared toast and ask for it specifically. But really our entire process is designed to build a barrel more precisely and consistently, which ultimately gives the distiller more control over their own process, and of course a tighter, better-performing barrel. (You can see the process here.)

You have a connection to Smooth Ambler Spirits, right? Tell us a little more about that.

We have a founder in common, and a founding vision. Tinsley Azariah—better known as “TAG”—Galyean had a dream over a decade ago to create a really stellar product here in West Virginia that would be known around the world. It was meant to be an economic driver and bring tourism to the region, but it was also a way of creating a new narrative about Appalachia: the idea of “Appalachian Knowhow” and the combination of hard work, skill and integrity that goes into it. That was Smooth Ambler. We’re absolutely continuing that. But what’s interesting is that—because of the founders’ commitment to creating jobs that were safe in this community and because of this same commitment to making a really stellar product, we’re bringing a new level of technology and innovation—not just to West Virginia but to our entire industry. It’s not always what people expect when they visit a cooperage in West Virginia. But without a doubt we’re changing that expectation.

Are there any upcoming projects you’re excited about and are there any particular spirits-related trends you’re paying close attention to in 2022?

We’re seeing a lot of interest in toasted finishing barrels, some with specialty woods that our mill sources for us. Our first collaboration of this kind was with Smooth Ambler, naturally. It’s an Old Scout Toasted Barrel Finish Rye, and it’s on the market now. They just reached out for another round of toasted barrels the other day, so I’m excited to see how they’ll use these. We’re also working with Bardstown Bourbon Co. on a cherry/oak toasted barrel finish. They tested out a few bourbons and ryes and ultimately settled on a blend of six- and seven-year 95/5 Ryes. So far these projects have been true collaborations between our team and the distillers (and in the case of the Smooth Ambler project, a local liquor store collaborated as well).

Of course, regional sourcing of materials remains important to distillers, and we have a few distiller partners for whom we build barrels with white oak from particular states. We’re also seeing a lot of distillers playing around with toast and char recipes that suit their climate, in addition to mash bill and desired flavor profile. For me, these are some of the most rewarding aspects of my job. There’s an incredible spirit of generosity and collaboration in this industry, and we’re here for it.

Listen to The Craft Spirits Podcast
Our latest guests on The Craft Spirits Podcast are Christopher Pellegrini and Stephen Lyman of Honkaku Spirits, which is devoted to bringing intensely artisanal Japanese spirits to discerning American customers with a particular focus on koji-based spirits.
From the Pages of CRAFT SPIRITS Magazine
Read the Latest Issue of CRAFT SPIRITS Magazine
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!
Join Us in the V.I.P. Lounge
Our latest V.I.P. Lounge members received a special thanks in the latest issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine, which landed in their inboxes a week early. To unlock additional bonuses, like a set of CRAFT SPIRITS-branded Glencairn glasses, join us in the V.I.P. Lounge today.
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.
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.
Welcome Newest Members!
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 3,886 DSPs! Find the full list here.
  • Don’t miss these upcoming drink holidays:
Feb. 7: Pisco Sour Day
Feb. 22: National Margarita Day
Feb. 24: World Bartender Day

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

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