The Monthly Mash: July 2023

Volume 8.7

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:

Here’s some good news. Did you know that 80% of consumers would happily order cocktails or mixed drinks that include distilled spirits made by a local producer? According to a recent report from the National Restaurant Association, consumers also are “thirsty for more choice,” with 3 out of 4 millennials and Gen Z adults reporting they’d like to have more alcohol beverage options to go with restaurant takeout or delivery orders. Sounds like there is no shortage of advocacy efforts needed to support market access, one of the pillars of ACSA’s strategic plan.

It’s no surprise that consumers are essential for our businesses to take hold and flourish. On- and off-premise are two ways to introduce consumers to your brand. Another way, of course, is to encourage a visit to your distillery. Besides consumers, how about inviting your state and federal Congressional delegations to your manufacturing operations? If that thought frightens you, read on to quash your fears. A visit by Congressional staff is an ideal way to educate legislators on your business and explain the challenges you confront with market channel access. (A recent visit to Capitol Hill in D.C. illuminated the lack of understanding of your operations. Most legislators are completely baffled when we report on the hurdles you endure to make and get product to the marketplace.)

The Craft Spirits Data Project (CSDP) is an essential tool to teach others about our industry, too. Who would have believed in 2010 when there were fewer than 100 operating craft spirits distilleries in the U.S. that just a decade later there would be thousands? How many craft distilleries operate today? We cannot be sure without your engagement in our study which is now open for survey respondents. Read on to see how you can participate.

Just as consumers are integral to our industry, mentors and distilleries are vital to the STEPUP (Spirits Training Entrepreneurship Program for Underrepresented Professionals) Foundation, an ACSA DEI initiative, whose applications are open through Sept. 15. If you are within the hospitality industry and pride yourself on guiding others, the mentor position is tailored for you. If you own or operate a DSP and wish to host an intern in the 2024 cycle (beginning January 2024) complete the DSP application now! A selection committee will vet all applications beginning in late September.

For those just dreaming about a distillery or those new to the field, have you purchased “The ACSA Guide to Starting and Operating a Distillery” e-book? It is a solid collection of wisdom which could make your job a whole lot easier. Purchase information follows.

Finally, as ACSA solidifies our own brand, see who is new on staff to make our mantra of WE ARE CRAFT a reality. Meet Anna and Akshay, who will help us continue to grow our membership and make your engagement that much more user friendly.

While August might seem like a good time to kick back, particularly with the sauna-like heat throughout the country, we hope you’ll consider our call to action:

1. Invite Congressional delegations to your distillery.

2. Complete the CSDP survey.

3. Consider completing an application for STEPUP.

4. Order the ACSA e-book.

We promise that it will be time well spent. Oh, and lest I forget, here’s one more:

5. Pour or mix a cool libation and toast to our fabulous industry!




Congress in Recess: Back Home on the Range

Does your tasting room traffic increase during the month of August? Have you considered personally inviting legislators (and their staff) from your district/state, including both state and federal representatives and senators? Besides offering a tour of your facility, or pouring your spirits in the tasting room, help legislators understand the nature of our business. Advise them on the challenges with market access and how an agritourism office could help. Talk to them about the inability to use the USPS to ship a media sample or enter a spirits competition. Let them know about the challenges to expand outside your state. Share your unique story.

If you do not know who represents you in the House, you can find your representative by entering your ZIP code here. The main phone number to the House is 202-225-3121.

If you do not know who your Senators are, you can search by state here. The main phone number to the Senate is 202-224-3121.

Contact the district staff and inquire about a visit to your distillery. Key staff include the district director (located close to you) and in Washington, D.C., it is typically the legislative director and chief of staff. Staff may want to visit instead of the member of Congress or as an advance on the business. You may often encounter the scheduler as well. You may be asked to fill out a simple form in order to have a visit.

Alternatively, if you are unsure whether you want to invite them to your distillery, go to their office in your home state.

Visit their websites to determine where their district office is located. As a constituent, you matter! Tell them you’d like to speak to them regarding your small business concerns. Once you make an appointment, let us know. We are happy to provide talking points.

If you need help locating your legislators or their staff, contact


Get Out Your Pen & Calculator and Complete the Survey

Numbers Talk. The media listens. Legislators take note. Lenders begin to ask serious questions about your business plan. Distributors and retailers gain intel about the economics of your state and national landscape.

The 2023 Craft Spirits Data Project Survey is now open for your input.

What is it? The CSDP offers a comprehensive overview of the craft spirits industry and its performance over time. It serves as a category benchmark for investors, retailers, distributors, legislators and the media. If you’re unfamiliar, check out past economic data reports. You can see the incredible growth reflected in our 2016-2022 reports.

Take the Survey


Save the Date for ACSA’s 11th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show

Please save the date and join us next Feb. 26-28 for our 11th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show in Denver!



‘The ACSA Guide to Starting and Operating a Distillery’ E-book

As part of our 10th anniversary celebration, we are thrilled to announce that our e-book, “The ACSA Guide to Starting and Operating a Distillery,” is now available!

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.

The e-book also serves as:

  • A textbook for craft spirits producers in their first one to three years in operation
  • An invaluable resource for onboarding new members of your team
  • A reference for existing staff to gain a more holistic view of how a distillery operates

ACSA members, please note that you must be logged in to our website to receive discounted pricing.

Get Your Copy

Sips of Summer

We’re also continuing to celebrate Sips of Summer as part of our ongoing 10th Anniversary festivities. Recent features have included:

We’ll be taking the Sips of Summer celebration into mid-August, so please send us any of the following:

  • Cocktails and/or spirits perfect for sipping by the pool, at the beach, or during a cookout (please share recipes for cocktails)
  • What you believe is the perfect cocktail or spirit pairing with a hamburger or hot dog
  • Your go-to cocktail at a baseball game
  • Limited summer releases from your distillery
  • Photos of people having a good time on your distillery’s patio, deck or outdoor space

There’s Still Time to Be a Part of Our 10th Anniversary Time Capsule

You still have a chance to be a part of history and submit your items for ACSA’s 10th Anniversary Time Capsule. 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 the following:

  • Business cards
  • Press releases
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Collateral materials (including leave-behinds that you’ve used with your state legislature)
  • Labels
  • Tasting room cocktail or sample/flight menus
  • Drone photo of your distillery (please label)
  • Hand sanitizer labels
  • Company newsletters
  • Printed convention programs from ACSA’s inaugural convention in Denver in 2014
  • A branded paper coaster
  • Photo of your branded merchandise
  • Small branded merchandise (such as keychains, pens, stickers, temporary tattoos, etc.)
  • Branded closures

Space is limited, so please ensure all contributions are on the small side.

PLEASE NOTE: Do NOT submit anything breakable, such as bottles or glassware. We also cannot accept any actual alcohol products.

Send your contributions to:

American Craft Spirits Association

Attn: Time Capsule

P.O. Box 470

Oakton, VA 22124

Watch a Video Tribute to a Decade of ACSA

We’re celebrating the distiller’s decade as the American Craft Spirits Association marks its 10th anniversary. Watch our video for a look back at 10 amazing years.
Watch Now


ACSA Welcomes Two New Staff Members

We are thrilled to announce that in July, two new staff members joined the ACSA team. Please join us in welcoming Akshay Anikhindi, our new IT Strategist and Technology Integration Manager, and Anna Klainbaum, who comes on board as Director of Marketing and Membership. We recently asked each of them a few questions to help our community get to know them.
Tell us a bit about your professional background.

Akshay Anikhindi: I’ve been working in the nonprofit and association space for the last 15 years as a digital communications manager and IT professional. I’m passionate about working specifically with these organizations because I believe it gives me a sense of purpose within my career.

Anna Klainbaum: I’ve worked across marketing and communications my entire career, with a focus on content and brand development. Nearly every job I’ve had since I was 16 years old has been in food, wine, spirits, or hospitality, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I also have an extensive background in working with associations, so it’s wonderful to be able to bring together all of that experience in this new role.

What attracted you to the position at ACSA?

Anikhindi: Throughout my career working with different organizations, I have never worked for an association where I actually feel as if I understand the members. I’m an avid bourbon collector, and consider myself an amateur mixologist, so I am genuinely excited to represent an association whose founding members include some of my favorite distilleries like Copper Fox and Widow Jane.

Klainbaum: I had worked with the organization as a consultant in the past, and was so impressed by the staff. They are so committed to the success of the craft spirits industry, and they are a pleasure to work with.

Describe your new role.

Anikhindi: As ACSA’s IT Strategist and Technology Integration Manager, I will be wearing many different hats: managing the organization’s IT needs, website and email platforms, and providing training to the staff around these new tools.

Klainbaum: In this role I’m leading all marketing efforts and membership initiatives, working closely with each staff member to help bring together the big picture for ACSA members. I think of it as connecting the dots between all of the amazing programs we have so that members can be aware of, and benefit from, everything ACSA has to offer them.

What are some of your primary objectives you hope to achieve in the role?

Anikhindi: This role brings a unique and exciting opportunity: to help shape and drive the information technology platforms and digital communication needs of this young organization. I also want to provide support to all the various staff so that they can operate to the best of their abilities with the tools they need.

Klainbaum: Growing the membership and ensuring each and every member feels excited about being an ACSA member. I’m looking forward to strengthening the brand’s touchpoints—the website, email newsletters, social media and overall member communications

What excites you the most about the craft spirits industry?

Anikhindi: There is plenty of room for innovation and to try something different. Craft spirit distillers can forge their own path, without being burdened by a sense of heritage or forced to cater to a built-in audience. I think people are looking for something fresh and unique. I know I am!

Klainbaum: I love the people, and that it’s an industry built on relationships (as well as delicious drinks.) I have a lot of respect for the passion and entrepreneurial drive it takes to bring a craft spirit to market. So much love and energy goes into each bottle!

Any hobbies/interests when you’re not working?

Anikhindi: My two young children (5 and 2 years old) keep me busy most of the time! Otherwise, I am a big film and TV buff, occasionally find time to play video games, and have taken up golf over the last few years as a way to get out of the house. I also enjoy traveling: I’ve been to every continent except for Antarctica!

Klainbaum: Gardening, specifically learning about the native plants and animals of the Northeast, where I live. Everything’s so interconnected and there’s so much to learn. Plus, like craft spirits, there is a really cool community of people to learn from and share the hobby with.

What is most likely to be in your glass?

Anikhindi: I’m a bourbon, rye and whiskey guy, but love drinking (and making) cocktails as well. My go-to bourbon is usually the Virginia-based A. Smith Bowman Distillery’s John J. Bowman Single Barrel. I’m also a huge fan of the stuff Starlight and Nulu are putting out with the finished whiskeys.

Klainbaum: Gin and tequila are tops for me. Lambrusco also makes me quite happy!


STEPUP Applications Open for Distillers and Mentors

Uniquely created to bring diversity into our industry, the STEPUP Foundation offers underrepresented individuals hands-on training to learn our trade from the ground level up. A special part of the program involves host distilleries to provide the venue in which to teach and mentors to provide the additional motivation, positive push and guidance. If you’re on the edge wondering whether this volunteer opportunity is a good fit for your distillery (as a host) or if you’re a candidate for a mentor (can you help friends or colleagues sort through issues?), listen to those in the know. Click below to hear from those already immersed in the program. Get the inside scoop on DSPs and mentors within STEPUP!

Video 1: Become a STEPUP Host Distillery

Video 2: Become a STEPUP Mentor

Apply to be a Host Distillery
Apply to be a Mentor


Upcoming Webinar: The New Age of Agave

When: Thursday, August 10th, 3-4 p.m. Eastern

What: Agave spirits continue to be the fastest-growing category, but American craft spirits producers have been limited in their ability to fully take advantage of this trend. That’s due, of course, to the fact that the two agave products most familiar to consumers, tequila and mezcal, are off-limits to producers on U.S. soil. But, iconic Mexican traditions aside, there are considerable opportunities within agave. A panel of U.S. craft producers experimenting in the space will detail some of their processes and products, as well as marketing challenges and successes.

How Much: Complimentary to ACSA members; $59 for non-members


Nicholas Hammond, founder/head distiller, Pacific Coast Spirits

Dave Woods, co-founder/head distiller, Wiggly Bridge Distillery

Register for the Webinar
In case you missed any previous webinars, they all are archived here. Most of our webinars are free to ACSA members ($59 each for non-members).
See All Archived Webinars


Read the Latest Issue of CRAFT SPIRITS Magazine

The July/August edition of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine has arrived! The new issue explores current barrel supply challenges, alternative packaging, cold-peated whiskey and much more. It also offers an exclusive excerpt from the new e-book, “The ACSA Guide to Starting and Operating a Distillery,” as well as the latest SipSource whiskey volume figures in Data Distilled.
Click Here to Read the Issue

Want to receive each issue early?

ACSA members and V.I.P. Lounge members receive each digital issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine the week before the rest of our readership. If you’re not a member, click below to join today.
Become a Member of ACSA
Join the V.I.P. Lounge

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.
Click Here

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.


Kelly Woodcock of Westward Whiskey

Our latest guest on The Craft Spirits Podcast is Kelly Woodcock of Westward Whiskey in Portland, Oregon. She is a partner and serves as vice president, guest experiences & Whiskey Club, in which she oversees all direct-to-consumer sales programs for the state of Oregon while running Westward’s hospitality program and operations for the whiskey company’s four tasting rooms. And earlier this year, she was elected as the vice president of ACSA’s board of directors.

Listen Now


ACSA extends a warm welcome to our new and returning members and sponsors:

• Cook’s Mill Whiskey

• Lavedon

• Legendary Loure

• New England Sweetwater Farm and Distillery

• Ribbon Farm Distillers

• The Strategic Sourcing Hub

Find out more about becoming a member here.


Did You Know?

The TTB has issued 4,606 DSPs! Find the full list by clicking on Spirit Producers and Bottlers here.

Don’t miss these upcoming drink holidays:

  • August 9: World Baijiu Day
  • 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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