The Monthly Mash: July 2020

The Monthly Mash

Volume 5.7

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 our Craft Spirits Industry:

Sounds evoke memories.

Oftentimes, you can be transported to another time, another place. For example, what do you think of when you hear a summer locust? I’m at a family farm in western Illinois, longing to fall asleep at night to escape the blasted heat in an upstairs bedroom that lacked air conditioning. I would lie there wondering when the night sky would allow the sun to break free and dream about my Aunt Bonnie’s French toast that would only be available at the light of dawn. The patter of rain on a tin roof returns me to a summer camp in the Adirondacks, when I’d patiently await silence, the signal that it was safe to return to the freshwater lake without fear of being struck by lightning. A bullfrog serenade immediately causes my skin to tingle as I’m reminded of mosquito bites from ponds and swamps as I collected cattails. These sounds, even today, return me to a childhood full of warm, carefree summer days.

The summer of 2020 is unlikely to elicit memories of carefree days. Most small businesses are operating in an economic climate of uncertainty. Many families have adopted new, yet still unfamiliar routines. The pandemic has uprooted our lives, forcing us to eagerly await a post-COVID world. But, when will it come? No one can say for sure.

Until that time, we must conceive, plan and execute a new path forward. ACSA, with the energy and spirit of a new Board of Directors, is responding to our current needs with a focus on our future. We are thankful for the wisdom, guidance, and time of our outgoing board members: Chris Montana, immediate-past President, from Du Nord Craft Spirits (MN); Courtney McKee, Headframe Spirits (MT); and James Montero, Dogfish Head Distilling Co. (DE). The fight for FET relief continues, so if you haven’t yet, please register for our upcoming Public Policy Conference, which will allow you to meet your Congressional leadership through our virtual platform. You can share your stories on what a loss of FET relief would mean for your business.

We will create our own sounds to remember during our newest initiative, The Craft Spirits Virtual Summit: A New Journey. Joth Ricci, beverage industry prodigy, will kickoff our program with advice on how we maneuver through the difficult days ahead. Will innovation be enough? The education program was crafted to give you the information most relevant to the operation of your DSP. Learning will not be limited to the classroom. Meet us in the trade show area to interact with key industry providers and participate in one of the many polls. There will even be awards for your engagement.

Let’s create some noise with a robust return on the Craft Spirits Data Project surveys. It is imperative that we gather economic data to better forecast future needs.

Finally, be inspired through the words of strength from some of ACSA’s key sponsors, including Tapi USA and Flavorman.

This is our time to create the sounds with a tonal beauty that will evoke happy memories years from now.

Wishing you health and safety,


Register Now for Craft Spirits Virtual Summit: A New Journey

Don’t Miss Our Live, Digital Event & Trade Show Aug. 11-12

In just 11 days, ACSA will kick off its Craft Spirits Virtual Summit: A New Journey. While we would love to see everyone in person, we are thrilled to present this digital gathering for the craft spirits community to learn, network and celebrate from the safety and comfort of our own homes, distilleries and places of business.

If you haven’t already signed up, please register now and join us on Aug. 11-12. And in case you’ve missed it, here’s a preview of what to expect during the summit.

A Curated Schedule of Educational Presentations & Panels

In addition to topics focused on various aspects of distilling, sales, packaging, safety and more, we are offering several presentations tailored specifically for operating a business during these challenging times.

Below is a list of confirmed presentations:

  • Welcome Keynote Speaker, Joth Ricci (Dutch Bros. Coffee), & ACSA Town Hall
  • Developing a Strategy to Operate Your Distillery Safely – Gary Yurt (ISTS)
  • Cocktail Kits to Go: Fresh, Fast & Fun – Doug Kouma (Vikre Distillery)
  • Retrofitting – Colleen Moore (Dalkita)
  • Industry Trends – Emily Pennington (Park Street)
  • In-pack Stability of Spirit-based Drinks – Paul Hughes (Oregon State University)
  • How to Develop a DtC Program – Thomas Mooney and Kelly Woodcock (Westward Whiskey)
  • Title TBA – Mark Shilling (ShillingCrafted)
  • Get the Most From Your Grain: Key Points for the Conversion of Starch – Andrew Fratianni (DuPont)
  • How Barrels Work – Jason Parker (Copperworks Distilling Co.)
  • Gimme Some Goods & Services: Spirited Supplier Diversity – Andrea Meriweather (Bar Fare Concepts) and Rhonda Malone Cammon (Perfectly Cordial)
  • Tasting Bias – Gary Spedding (BDAS LLC)
  • The Art of Awareness: How Being More Aware Creates Inclusivity and Accessibility in Your Distillery – Hoby Wedler (Senspoint) and Maggie Campbell (Privateer Rum)
  • Title TBA – Sas Stewart (Stonecutter Spirits)
  • Title TBA – Corianna Schewel (Obviously)
  • American Single Malt Whiskey Panel – Jared Himstedt (Balcones Distilling), Steve Hawley and Matt Hoffman (Westland Distillery), and Murphy Quint (Cedar Ridge Distillery)
  • Overview of Distilled Spirits Labeling Requirements – Tracy McNeill (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Bureau)
  • Pivoting in a Time of Crisis – Heather Greene (Milan & Greene Whiskey)

The Power of Our Platform

To ensure that the summit is productive, successful and exceeds your expectations, ACSA partnered with Bizzabo, the world’s fastest growing event technology company. Long before the pandemic forced us to rethink in-person meetings, Bizzabo has been on a mission to bring people together and make virtual events more rewarding for everyone involved.

Via this powerful online platform, you will have the ability to:

  • Virtually network with distillers, suppliers and friends in the industry via webcam and online chat
  • Attend educational presentations and engage with presenters and industry experts
  • Attend a virtual trade show floor and meet “face to face” with suppliers at their booths via webcam
  • Revisit the platform after the official summit dates to review ALL presentations

Discounted Rates

We realize that many business are facing economic challenges during these times, so we are offering admission to this summit at a heavily discounted rate compared to our in-person conventions. Plus, with your group rate, distilleries can save hundreds of dollars by registering their entire team.

Member Rate

Attendee Rate (1-3 people from the same company): $199 per person
Group Attendee Rate (4-7 people from the same company): $599 total
Additional Group Attendees (over the group limit of 7): $39 (each)

Non-Member Rate

Attendee Rate (1-3 people from the same company): $399 per person
Group Attendee Rate (4-7 people from the same company): $1,200 total
Additional Group Attendees (over the group limit of 7): $59 (each)


Exhibit Hours: Tuesday, August 11th from 3:00-6:00 pm ET & Wednesday, August 12th from 1:00-4:00 pm ET

Booth Fee: $399

Watch a demo of the virtual trade show floor and how you can customize your company’s booth.

ACSA Announces Newly Elected Board Members

The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) this week announced the re-election of veteran Board members Jake Holshue of Rogue Ales & Spirits (OR) and Colin Keegan of Santa Fe Spirits (NM), as well as the election of three new distillers to the Board of Directors: Gina Holman of J. Carver Distillery (MN), Jessica J. Lemmon, of Cart/Horse Distilling (PA), and Tom Potter of New York Distilling Co. (NY). The installation follows a digital election, with voting participation from nearly 70% of the organization’s membership.

Together, returning and newly elected board members will liaise with Board President Becky Harris of Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. (VA), Vice President P.T. Wood of Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (CO), and Jeff Kanof of Copperworks Distilling Co. (WA), who were elected to Board leadership positions in April. Together with CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman, the group will address the key issues facing the craft distilling industry, including COVID-19 industry recovery efforts and Federal Excise Tax reform.

“In just three short months, Becky, P.T. and Jeff have energized our craft spirits community, leading the way to look beyond the immediate crisis and build a healthy future,” said Lehrman. “Their work, coupled with the new and newly reappointed board talent will continue to shepherd the industry in the many years to come.”

In the coming weeks, the Board of Directors will also be appointing leadership to its governing committees. Those committees include Membership, Ethics, Convention, Education, Elections, Safety, ACSA PAC, Mentorship, Judging, Government Affairs, State Guilds, Technology, DtC and Development.

The 2020-2021 Board of Directors is composed of the following individuals:


Maggie Campbell, Privateer Rum Distillery (MA)
Becky Harris, Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. (VA)
Jessica J. Lemmon, Cart/Horse Distilling (PA) (newly elected)
Tom Potter, New York Distilling Co. (NY) (newly elected)
Ryan Christiansen, Caledonia Spirits (VT)

Gina Holman, J. Carver Distillery (MN) (newly elected)
Colin Keegan, Santa Fe Spirits (NM) (re-elected)
Thomas Mote, Balcones Distillery (TX)
Amber Pollock, Backwards Distilling Co. (WY)
Colton Weinstein, Corsair Artisan Distillery (TN)
P.T. Wood, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (CO)

Dan Farber, Osocalis Distillery (CA)
Jake Holshue, Rogue Ales & Spirits (OR) (re-elected)
Jeff Kanof, Copperworks Distilling Co. (WA)
Molly Troupe, Freeland Spirits (OR)

Ex Officio – Thomas Jensen, New Liberty Distillery (PA)

ACSA would also like to thank its outgoing Board members, including:

Chris Montana, Du Nord Craft Spirits (MN)
Courtney McKee, Headframe Spirits (MT)
James Montero, Dogfish Distilling Co. (DE)
The ACSA Board of Directors and ACSA Staff

Calling All Craft Spirits Producers to Take the Craft Spirits Data Project Survey

Attention all owners/operators or team members of a distilled spirits plant:

Since the Craft Spirits Data Project (CSDP) first launched in 2016, we (together with Park Street and the IWSR) have demonstrated substantial growth in terms of sheer numbers of DSPs, and volume and value in the craft spirits industry. That information has been critically important to educate the U.S. Congress on the impact of your small business on jobs, among other items.

This year, survey results are even more vital as we continue to fight for relief, in the form of a continued (or permanent) FET reduction and additional economic stimulus, as we know many of your tasting rooms have been compelled to close.

Please complete your survey no later than Aug. 13. If someone else within your distillery is better qualified to answer, please alert him or her right away. And, as a reminder, all responses will be kept confidential with reporting in the aggregate.

Fifteen minutes of your time today could make a substantial difference in years to come. Please help us understand the state of our industry.

Registration Opens for Public Policy Conference

The 2020 DISCUS/ACSA Public Policy Conference that typically takes place in Washington, D.C. each year will take place virtually Sept. 15-16, and registration is now open.

This conference provides industry executives with the opportunity to engage directly with lawmakers in the nation’s capital and advocate for issues vital to the industry. Given the unprecedented challenges affecting the country, there is no more important time for our voice to be heard in Washington, D.C.

Though we’ll be virtual, we intend to offer the same opportunities that you have come to expect from this conference each year—to learn and share from one another and celebrate this great industry. Please stay tuned for more details.

Time is Running Out to Join & Get Rewarded

As distillers continue to operate during a difficult time of uncertainty, new and lapsed ACSA members are receiving a 15-month membership for the price of 12 months. This offer will expire on Sept. 1.

Follow us on Instagram for Craft Spirits Live

Join ACSA for Craft Spirits Live, our new Instagram Live show. In each episode, a leading craft spirits producer invites us into their distillery for 30 minutes of engaging conversation and a virtual tour—as well as an opportunity to answer all of your burning questions.


August 5: Gabe Spencer, Whistling Andy Distillery
August 12: No Craft Spirits Live due to Craft Spirits Virtual Summit
August 19: Fawn Weaver, Uncle Nearest, Inc.
August 26: P.T. Wood, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery
September 2: TBA
September 9: Thomas Mote, Balcones Distilling

Not sure how Instagram Live works? Click here to learn more.

Sponsor Spotlight: Q&A with

Leah Hutchinson of Tapi USA

Leah Hutchinson is the Midwest sales manager for TapiUSA. She previously worked the West Coast market and handles some of Tapi’s key accounts. Leah has countless years of experience in the craft distilling industry, not only working tirelessly in the early days to grow the craft community, but also as a co-founder and the first employee of the ACSA. She has worked closely with many distilleries and multiple distilling guilds and associations in promoting and advocating for the success of craft spirits producers.

ACSA: What makes Tapi’s spirits closures stand out?

Leah Hutchinson: It’s really about what makes our closures AND company stand out:

1: Tapi Group owns and operates manufacturing facilities in four countries, Mexico, Italy, France and Argentina. In each of our plants our employees are dedicated and hardworking and take a lot of pride in producing superior products.

2: Dedicated regional sales managers across North America supported by an entire team in our USA home office. From our general manager to customer service representatives and our packaging engineer, we work as a team to provide our customers with the best options in product selection, sales and service.

3: Our closures: A robust stock inventory program with 50-plus different closures available for immediate shipment from our U.S. warehouse. Fully customizable closures developed with our international engineers and sales managers from the initial concept of your brand’s identity to delivery and beyond.

What kind of impact has the pandemic had on your business

We are embracing the change and closely following local government guidelines. The safety of our employees and customers remains our highest priority.

Our sales team works remotely across the U.S. in our specific regions so that made it easy for us. Our home office team divided up the week and rotated working remotely and maintaining the office and lab while offering us support. Our dedicated warehouse employees never stopped. We had a good infrastructure in place that made it easier to meet the challenge. It was like camaraderie as we all immediately went into action with our customers, answering their calls and the demand to meet their never-before-imagined packaging requirements for the production of hand sanitizers.

On a global scale, we pivoted and quickly made modifications to meet the challenges of managing our supply chain to keep our plants running and to support our customers’ needs. Even as our facilities had to cut back production capacity in order to safely accommodate our employees, we worked with our customers to provide updates and get what they needed for bottling.

As it relates to spirits, what are some recent and/or upcoming offerings that you are most excited to talk about and why?

We are particularly excited about the Mekano, a plastic swing-top stopper. It’s the t-cork with a lock! It provides a highly functional closure system and an opportunity for unique branding.

What advice do you have for craft distilleries during these challenging times?

For those of us who’ve been around the craft spirits industry for a long time, we adopted a motto early on: Remain flexible and the bar is open!

Now more than ever, flexibility with packaging is imperative and responding quickly and working with your suppliers in a changing marketplace is key.

While many of our bars and tasting rooms are closed and many distilleries are at risk, solidarity is vital. Remaining vigilant in our quest for parity with the FET reduction and equality for all. We are a passionate and resilient community. We can and will emerge on the other side of this pandemic!

Anything else we didn’t ask that you feel is worth noting?

Yes, like so many of us, we miss our friends and colleagues coast to coast and we like a good party mixed with the opportunity to showcase our spirits and wares. Missing the shows and industry events has a big impact on us all and it’s going to be “one hell of a party” when we can get together again! In the meantime, our GM has asked us to think of ways to say hello in lieu of that handshake or hug. So, from our Team at TapiUSA to your team we’re saying, “Hello and we look forward to raising a glass again in the future.” Cheers!

Sponsor Spotlight: Flavorman CEO on Responding to Adversity

Editor’s Note: We recently received the following uplifting letter from Flavorman CEO & founder David Defoe, and are sharing it here with permission.

In 2009, Flavorman was devastated by a freak flood that shut us down for about 40 days. Several feet of water in the building had ruined expensive flavor ingredients, equipment and furniture, significantly setting back our operations. It scared me.

When I first saw the damage, I was so devastated that I’ll admit I was ready to shutter the doors for good. But as I made my survey of the building, one of my co-workers turned to me and said, “Don’t worry, Dave! We’ll clean up and start over—heck, we’ve already started.” And just like that, I went from being overwhelmed by despair to inspired by hope and motivation.

As we continue to grapple with the impact of this global pandemic, I suspect that some of you may be feeling similarly to how I felt in 2009. That’s why I want to gift you with the incredible lesson I learned on that day of hardship: Action cures fear. 

When faced with adversity, we didn’t give up.

Instead, Flavorman re-built and emerged better and stronger than ever. While we can all agree that 2020 has given us more than our fair share of challenges, as a business owner, it’s likely that you’ve dealt with a few big hurdles already—you can get through this one too. Why? Because action cures fear.

This year while working through COVID limitations, Flavorman’s actions have been focused on three goals:
  • Keep Operating: By establishing appropriate procedures to continue managing projects and operations, per usual,
  • Improve Operations: By reviewing and improving the way we do business so that we can continue to deliver quality products and services to our clients and partners, and
  • Plan for the Future: By evaluating new and emerging opportunities for growth.
So far, we haven’t missed a beat. Despite the circumstances, we’ve remained busy with product development, flavor production, and the pursuit of initiatives that we know will strengthen our business. We’re also exploring new opportunities which we will be excited to roll out soon.

Without a doubt, new clients have been appreciative of our time and attention as we forge a path forward together. In turn, we’ve welcomed the continuity and ongoing challenges that these new projects bring, as they keep us active in our efforts to innovate and deliver the next generation of flavorful drinks.

Of course, we know our current clients’ needs for flavor concentrate haven’t stopped, so we’ve been working harder and smarter to deliver the same level of excellence across our products and services. Clients that depend on our flavor supply and technical expertise to manufacture their beverages have been—and continue to be—fully supported by our production, quality, and research teams.

When the need arose, we also immediately expanded operations to begin manufacturing hand sanitizer for our community—because when the world changes around us, we adapt through action. That’s just the Flavorman way!

We’ve also taken the time to strengthen our business from the inside out. We’ve reviewed and updated our Company Handbook and procedures, improved our employee benefits package while saving money, and overhauled our technical and support teams to make operations more effective. Our Sales team has refreshed their approach to interacting with potential clients; Marketing has updated the company’s strategy and messaging; while Quality & Production have adjusted shifts and order processing to create a more streamlined process. Thanks to our incredible workforce, Flavorman will be more efficient and effective as we move forward.

Action cures fear because it challenges us not to just hope for a better collective future, but create it for ourselves. Don’t ask “what’s next?” – make it happen.

Flavorman’s actions point us closer to our mission of changing what the world is drinking. That’s what we’re passionate about and what we do best. But you’re a part of our family just as we are a part of your team—that also makes our futures very much intertwined.

Undoubtedly, this year has been disruptive for all of us. Our resilience has been challenged and we’ve had to navigate obstacles unseen by generations past. But even in uncertain times, we can still find ways to keep powering forward.

Action cures fear.
David Dafoe
“The Flavorman,” CEO & Founder

Read the Latest Issue of Craft Spirits Magazine

In case you missed it, the latest issue of Craft Spirits magazine arrived this month. Here are a few of the highlights from this issue.

Cover Story: Let’s Be Direct

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a number of states to relax—at least temporarily—their restrictions on direct-to-consumer sales and shipping for distilleries. Could this possibly be the tipping point on an issue that’s central to the future of the craft spirits business?

Best of the Best

We spotlight the Best-of-Class and Best-of-Show medalists in ACSA’s 2020 Judging of Craft Spirits.

Member Profile: Cedar Ridge Distillery

Iowa’s renowned producer has barrels and barrels that are ready for primetime.

Distilling Destinations: Seattle

A Seattle local details how distilleries are coping with the pandemic and what the craft spirits scene may look like once things (slowly) get back to normal.

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 Voting, Affiliate and Candidate Members!

ACSA extends a warm welcome to a few of our newest members and sponsors:

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

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