The Monthly Mash: July 2022

Volume 7.7

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:

Returning from the ACSA convention in New Orleans this past week, I reflected on the number of members who approached me. Many thanked ACSA for its work over the course of our existence, from the success of the craft beverage federal excise tax reductions, to hand sanitizer guidance, to safety instructions, to sales and marketing education. Others provided commentary on issues troubling their small businesses. Yet others simply wanted to acknowledge ACSA’s bold move to support a keynote address with a focus on mental health in our industry. In each conversation, the overarching takeaway and clear message was: We’re in this together.

If you didn’t attend the ACSA convention, you may be somewhat insulated from an undeniable feeling of support. There is a palpable camaraderie and shared passion for what we do. There is a common moral compass to do right by each other. And, on top of that, there is that element of fun in our warm and friendly community.

Read on to experience some highlights from our convention, from Matt Vogl’s amazing and moving keynote, to the second line march, to Mardi Gras World, to the PAC reception at Happy Raptor Distilling. Of course, a signature event was the announcement of medalists from our Judging of Craft Spirits, not to be outdone by a stellar lineup of education throughout the convention. The vendor trade show featured more than 135 booths with wares and services covering each segment of the industry.

Now, our community is calling on you to take action with the American single malt whisky poll and finding the time to provide needed data for the Craft Spirits Data Project, which is just launching. Let us know if you heard from the FDA regarding hand sanitizer. And, if you are interested in speaking, submit a Call for Presentations to be considered to present in Portland, Oregon, our next convention site. Finally, would you consider offering up your distillery to help train an intern in our STEPUP Foundation program? Might you consider being a mentor? Now’s your time to get involved.

I am so proud of the community we’ve built—together. I am so proud of the ACSA team, staff and volunteers who pulled this convention together. (And, if you weren’t aware, I want you to know that we selected the month of July in New Orleans because Covid stole from us the dates we might have preferred.) And, I look forward to what I know we will accomplish in years to come.

There is a terrific sense of comfort in being on the same team.

Be well.




Cheers to ACSA’s 9th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show!

Last week, hundreds of members of the distilling community gathered in New Orleans to learn, network and celebrate the craft spirits industry at ACSA’s 9th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show. Over the course of dozens of hours of educational sessions, we learned new tips and strategies to help our small businesses thrive. On the trade show floor, attendees explored the latest offerings and products designed for producers of craft spirits. At several on- and off-site events, attendees and exhibitors mingled and made or strengthened lasting relationships. We also announced the medalists and best of class honorees from our 2022 Judging of Craft Spirits. Here are a few highlights from our time in the Big Easy.

Town Hall, Keynote Address and Welcome Party
After official words of welcome from Ernest P. Legier Jr.—Louisiana’s Commissioner of Alcohol and Tobacco Control—ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman presided over a membership town hall on the first evening of the convention. Attendees heard remarks and updates from Becky Harris (ACSA president from Catoctin Creek Distilling Co.), Gina Holman (ACSA vice president from J. Carver Distillery), Jessica J. Lemmon (ACSA secretary/treasure of Cart/Horse Distilling), Chris Montana (ACSA past president of Du Nord Social Spirits), Mark Shilling (ACSA past president and chair of government affairs committee), Jim Hyland (ACSA public policy advisor), Colton Weinstein (Corsair Artisan Spirits), Lee Wood (Wood’s High Mountain Distillery) and Rob Masters (The Family Jones), who introduced keynote speaker Matt Vogl (CEO, VXVY Mental Health, Inc.).

In his keynote address titled “Distilling Mental Health & Crafting Support in Volatile Times,” Vogl shared his own personal story of attempted suicide and navigating the challenges of accessing support for mental health. Vogl offered practical advice to those experiencing depression and to those who suspect someone close to them may need support.

Matt Vogl
After the town hall, attendees paraded from the Ernest M. Norial Convention Center to nearby Mardi Gras World for a welcome party with live music and cocktails.

On the parade route from the convention center

Walking among the floats at Mardi Gras World

Trade Show
On our trade show floor, exhibitors from around the world displayed their products and discussed their services with craft distillers, distillery employees and distilleries in planning.

Education, Panels and More
The convention featured nearly 40 hours of educational sessions in three tracks (technical, sales/marketing and business/finance) with three difficulty levels (advanced, intermediate and suitable for all). We also hosted a New Distillery Start-Up 101 Pre-Convention Class, as well as panels for the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission and Women of the Vine & Spirits.

ACSA PAC Welcome Reception
At Happy Raptor Distilling on July 22, we raised our glasses to toast our ongoing legislative efforts to strengthen the business climate for the craft spirits industry. Our guest speaker was Walt Leger, president-elect and current executive vice president and general counsel at New Orleans & Co. Leger, who also served for 12 years in the Louisiana House of Representatives, discussed the importance of building relationships with local and state elected officials, and he urged distilleries to be a force of good in their communities.
Walter Leger, right, addresses the crowd at ACSA’s PAC welcome reception

Spirits Soiree: Awards Dinner and Banquet
On the final night of the convention, we announced the medalists and Best in Show honoree of our 9th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits. The medalists—who were hand-selected among a pool just shy of 450 entrants—were honored during an in-person awards dinner and banquet.

During the event, ACSA bestowed the evening’s ultimate honor, the Best in Show award, to Starlight Winery & Distillery of Borden, Indiana, for its Carl T. Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey.

Christian and Blake Huber of Starlight Distillery
This year, entries were submitted from 37 states and Washington, D.C., in seven main categories: brandy, distilled specialty spirits, gin, ready to drink (RTD), rum, vodka and grain spirits, and whiskey. In addition to Best in Show, Best of Class, and Innovation distinctions, the judging panel awarded 15 gold, 104 silver, and 159 bronze medals.

The 2022 Best of Class distinctions, the highest honor in each of the seven judging categories, were awarded to a mix of both established, award-winning distilleries and younger newcomers. Winning distilleries also receive hand-carved barrel heads courtesy of Thousand Oaks Barrel Co.

The competition was judged on April 5-6 at High Wire Distilling Co. in Charleston, South Carolina. Colton Weinstein and Jeff Wuslich served as judging co-chairs and spirits were judged by an esteemed panel of 30 judges.

Best of Class Winners in Each Category Included:
Brandy: Wigle Peach Brandy, Wigle Whiskey (PA)
Distilled Specialty Spirits: Wigle Amaro Vermut, Wigle Whiskey (PA)
Gin: Jaggerbush, Lawrenceville Distilling Co. (PA)
RTD: Astoria Mary, Pilot House Distilling (OR)
Rum: White Rum, Three Roll Estate (LA)
Vodka and Grain Spirits: Sweet Blend Vodka, Delta Dirt Distillery (AR)
Whiskey: Carl T. Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey, Starlight Distillery (IN)
Innovation: Sorel, JackfromBrooklyn (NY)

Special Thanks to Our 2022 Convention Sponsors

ACSA gratefully acknowledges the generosity of those who have provided support for our 2022 Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show, including:
ISTILL: Sponsor of tote bags
Image Apparel Solutions: Sponsor of t-shirts
Southern Distilling Co.: Sponsor of bag swag
Stoel Rives LLP: Sponsor of program hand fans
Adams and Reese LLP: Sponsor of lounge area
SPOD: Sponsor of badge wallets

ACSA Opens Call for Presentations for 2023 Convention

The call for presentations for ACSA’s 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show in Portland, Oregon, from February 10-12 is now open! ACSA prides itself on professional education providing the greatest possible learning experience for our industry. Each individual call for presentations will be personally vetted by the ACSA Education Committee. Click here for further instructions and submit your presentation proposal by Sept. 20.


Urgent Quick Survey: Did You Produce Hand Sanitizer?
We thought talk of hand sanitizer was over. We were wrong.

The American Craft Spirits Association recently learned that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is contacting distilling manufacturers—who produced hand sanitizer solely during the early stages of the pandemic—regarding incorrect formulation. It seems FDA is pulling and testing hand sanitizers, even when emergency manufacturers have deregistered.

Please help us understand how widespread this might be by taking a quick survey—it should only take one minute to complete. Please complete the survey by no later than Aug. 11.

Survey: Your Thoughts on TTB’s Proposal to Add American Single Malt Whiskey to Standards of Identity
The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) published a notice of proposed rulemaking today that would add American single malt whiskey to the standards of identity for distilled spirits. The proposal follows years of petitions and comments from distillers, the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission (ASMWC) and the American Craft Spirits Association, among others. TTB has invited comments from the public on this proposed rule. To help us respond to TTB, please take this survey by Aug. 19.

ACSA Supports TTB’s Proposed Rule to Eliminate Existing Standards of Fill
In a recent letter to the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), ACSA expressed support for TTB to eliminate the existing standards of fill for wine and distilled spirits, except to maintain in the regulations a minimum standard of 50 milliliters for both wine and distilled spirits and a maximum standard of fill of 3.785 liters for distilled spirits. In a poll of our members, nearly 80% of respondents were in favor eliminating the existing standards of fill. TTB issued a notice of proposed rulemaking concerning the standards of fill in late May, with comments due this month.

Register Now for the 2022 Virtual Public Policy Conference

Registration for the 2022 ACSA/DISCUS Public Policy Conference is now open! This virtual conference is an opportunity to make your voice heard on the issues most impacting your distillery! We’re looking forward to joining the best and the brightest from the distilled spirits sector to meet virtually with lawmakers and advocate on the issues impacting distilleries across the country.

On Sept. 20, join us for a legislative issues overview and state delegation meetings to prepare for Congressional meetings.

On Sept. 21, we will meet virtually with officials from Capitol Hill and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau before setting off for virtual Congressional meetings. We will close the conference with a virtual closing toast – offering the chance to connect with one another and raise a glass with industry luminaries.

We hope you’ll join us virtually Sept. 20-21!

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.
The easiest way to engage and learn more is to go to our website and log in to ACSA.
Should you have any questions about ACSA’s PAC, or ACSA’s public policy initiatives, please write to


STEPUP Foundation Accepting New Applications Until Sept. 1

The STEPUP Foundation is now accepting applications for 2023 interns, mentors, DSPs, and wholesalers until Sept. 1, 2022.

STEPUP stands for Spirits Training Entrepreneurship Program for Underrepresented Professionals and its purpose is to increase talent through the facilitation of workplace diversity. Specifically, STEPUP, working with distilleries and wholesalers throughout the United States, provides a comprehensive, hands-on training program with a living stipend and provides job exposure for those of different races, color, national origins, genders and sexual orientations.

Eligible mentors will have passion, willingness and time to guide and coach the intern throughout the internship. They must have experience in the hospitality industry, but no previous mentorship experience is required.

DSPs and wholesalers will help train and expose interns to learning the spirits business. It requires a time commitment of 8-12 weeks, dedication, and willingness to guide interns through how a spirits business runs from front to back end of operations, sales and marketing, finances, and distributorship. Curriculum and materials will be provided.

We encourage all to apply to this unique and life-changing internship program!


Q&A with Denise Jones of Fermentis

Based in the north of France, Fermentis is a business unit of the Lesaffre Group: global key player in yeasts and fermentation solutions. We recently checked in with Denise Jones—technical sales support manger for Fermentis, Americas—to learn more about the company’s offerings.

ACSA: How does Fermentis support creativity for its customers?

Denise Jones: The vast diversity of Fermentis SafSpirit™️ distiller’s yeast strains are intuitively creative. Fermentation for distillation has a couple of key purposes; to create alcohol efficiently and create flavor (or absence of flavor) for spirits in maturation development. Directly from the package, our fermentation products have remarkable native properties. They are sufficiently well-nourished to be robust from the start-up, as well as over the fermentation time. The quality of their biomass and the high content of survival factors (sterols, etc.) ensure a performant metabolic function, even under difficult and stressful conditions. Additionally, depending on their genetics, yeasts have more or less abilities to assimilate and bio-transform compounds and to generate corresponding aromas and flavors for short and long-term maturation. For neutral spirits, clean fermentations with very little congener generation. The distiller is in charge of how the variabilities in fermentation will translate into the final impression of a spirit and its creativity.

Can you give us a quick summary of what you offer craft distillers, and how many products/services you offer?

Fermentis offers yeast strains for whiskey/whisky and grain-based spirits, spirits made from starchy agricultural crops, agave spirits, rums and other cane sugar spirits, fruit brandies, and neutral spirits. The entire SafSpirit™️ portfolio of distilling strains are selected for their ability to offer success with a range of carbohydrate sources under varying fermentation conditions. Assisting distillers with the technical information helps them achieve their fermentation goals, directly addressing our goals in building a partnership for quality fermentations. We also offer nutritional products and bacterial applications for a variety of fermented beverages, further assisting distillers with diversity for their spirit production opportunities.

What is your most popular product among distillers?

Fermentis probably sells more of its whiskey strains here in the United States, each one offering something different. The SafSpirit M-1™️ strain is used to produce the most famous whiskies of Scotland, with favorable congeners suitable for barrel maturation. A Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. Diastaticus is used in all malt whiskies when enzyme additions are not allowed. SafSpirit D-53™️ is a flavorful strain that ferments a variety of grain substrates with consistent alcohol yields and it imparts a higher concentration of esters for fruitier whiskies and new-make spirits.

Also noteworthy, the SafSpirit USW-6™️, famous for performance and flavor characteristics for American bourbon whiskey fermentations. This strain has a notable, delicate congener profile well suited for maturation of bourbon and American single expression whiskies.

Another favorite is the SafSpirit C-70™️ for rums and other cane sugar spirits that are currently gaining in popularity—a robust multipurpose strain popular for fermenting all kinds of substrates with subtle congeners, used extensively in the Caribbean and Central America for producing good quality alcohol and rums from sugar, cane juice or molasses.

To answer your question in short, our favorites vary a bit by cultural differences in spirits tastes. Depending on what is mostly consumed in a specific region, the favorites change to reflect those tastes.

Are there any new or upcoming products you’re able to tell us about?

In the U.S., Fermentis now offers two selected strains for agave spirits as their latest additions to produce spirits. Both strains have been commercialized in Mexico for the production of tequila and mezcal and are considered references for this market. The SafTeq™️ Blue (the blue agave juice strain) presents a good tolerance for native agave toxins that make fermentation difficult. It produces many tequila styles, primarily tequila 100%. Resistant to high fermentation temperatures and good resistance to osmotic pressure. It generally is known to produce alcohols with neutral profiles. Fermentis also offers the SafTeq™️ Silver (the traditional strain used in Mexico). It offers good performance in juice-producing agave tequila and mezcal production, fermenting well in agave juice musts supplemented with non-agave sugars. It is a very robust strain with subtle congener production.

What can you tell us about the Fermentis Campus?

As you might have already heard, Fermentis has recently inaugurated the Fermentis Campus, a state-of-the-art facility near Lille, in the north of France. This campus not only serves as our global Fermentis headquarters but is also hosting the Fermentis Academy, which is an Applied Research and Education Center. Through Fermentis Academy, we explore and share the art of developing quality fermented beverages.

Is there anything else you’d want the craft distilling community to know about Fermentis?

Fermentis is a reliable resource for successful fermentations. If a distiller wants a clean, low-congener fermentation for neutral spirits, or if they are looking for more flavor-forward strains to help develop interesting white spirits and well matured barreled spirits, Fermentis will have a solution. Fermentis selects yeast strains well suited for different fermentation conditions (temperature ranges, pH development, stressful conditions, nutritional balance), as well as those that can offer creation or omission of congener development. Reliable quality, stable shelf-life and dependability, ease of use and cost effectiveness, consistent performance … these are all values that Fermentis products promise.


Read the Latest Issue of CRAFT SPIRITS Magazine
The July/August issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine is here, and our cover story explores the current state of on-premise two years after the pandemic began. This issue also features stories about barrel recipes, NFTs tied to spirits and more.

Join Us in the V.I.P. Lounge
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 join craft spirits icons for virtual happy hours. 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.


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 4,229 DSPs! Find the full list by clicking on Spirit Producers and Bottlers here.
Don’t miss these upcoming drink holidays:
August 16: National Rum Day
August 25: National Whiskey Sour Day
August 30: National Mai Tai Day

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

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