There is still time to respond to the Craft Spirits Data Project survey. We urge you to participate to help us provide a comprehensive report on the economics of the industry. The Craft Spirits Data Project, which ACSA conducts in conjunction with Park Street and the IWSR, provides the industry’s most detailed picture of the size, scope, growth trajectory and economic contributions of the craft distilling industry. This information will be critical as we continue our fight to keep the reduction in the Federal Excise Tax. We encourage you to follow this link and spend a few minutes answering the survey.
Make Your Voice Heard on Capitol Hill!Register Now for the 2019 Public Policy Conference
We’ll be returning to Capitol Hill for the 2019 ACSA and Distilled Spirits Council Public Policy Conference, July 22-24 at Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. We’ll need all hands on deck to ensure craft spirits producers voices are heard and Congress acts on our biggest priorities. Registration is complimentary, but attendees are responsible for their own travel and lodging expenses. The reserved room block at the Phoenix Park Hotel is sold out. However, we just secured discounted rooms at a nearby hotel. If you are in need of a room reservation, please alert Stephanie Sadri at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible and she will assist. You may attend all or a portion of this conference. Customize the experience to fit your schedule. However, if you can no longer attend, or plan to be there only part time, please email Carason Lehmann at email@example.com and/or Drew Floyd at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 17th.
As Hawaii was once a massive producer of sugarcane, it should come as no surprise that rum is a popular spirit on the islands. While large-scale production of Hawaiian sugarcane has collapsed, a growing number of distilleries are continuing to provide their own tropical spin on rum. And some distilling companies are branching out to gin, whiskey, vodka and canned cocktails. Here are some of the distilleries and cocktail bars worthy of a visit.
On the island of Oahu, native Hawaiian sugarcane plays a prominent role for Manulele Distillers, which crafts small batches of farm-to-bottle Ko Hana Rum. The distillery sits on land once owned by Del Monte, where pineapples were farmed. Now, Ko Hana grows dozens of varieties of native sugarcane, which are used to make its agricole rums. The distillery’s tasting room is inside the former Del Monte general store and post office, and tours are available Wednesday through Saturday.
Also in Oahu, Island Distillers produces the HAPA line of rum and vodkas (including coconut, hibiscus and chili pepper versions) and Okolehao, a 100-proof, native Hawaiian spirit.
On the island of Kauai, Koloa Rum Co. has been crafting single-batch, twice-distilled rums since 2009. In a 1,210-gallon still, Koloa produces rums with locally sourced ingredients including coconut, pineapple and coffee. Koloa’s lineup features six rums, all of which are cut with filtered water from nearby Mount Waialeale. The White Rum, Gold Rum, Dark Rum and Coconut Rum are all 80 proof. The Spice Rum, which is 88 proof, features notes of cinnamon, cacao, caramel and sarsaparilla. The 68 proof Kauai Coffee, which is a collaboration between Koloa and Kauai Coffee Co., is a nod to an espresso cocktail with a dry finish of light vanilla followed by hints of chocolate and coffee. Koloa also produces the 92-proof 12-Barrel Select Hawaiian Rum, which is aged for at least three years in charred American white oak barrels.
In Maui, Kolani Distillers produce its line of Old Lahaina Rum from the ruins of an 1875 vintage sugar mill in Paia. The distillery produces three rums: Silver, Gold and Dark. Created by father and son Paul and Brian Case, Old Lahaina Rums are made from local molasses. The rum is named after the town of Lahaina, where British sailors first brought their rum on Hawaiian shores in the 1700s.
Maui is also home to Hali’imaile Distilling Co., which makes a vodka, rum, whiskey and gin. Its flagship brand, PAU Maui Vodka is distilled using pineapple. Nearby, Hawaii Sea Spirits creates Ocean Organic Vodka from water sourced 3,000 feet below sea level.
Also in Maui, an established brewery is venturing into craft spirits. Kupu Spiritsfrom Maui Brewing Co. recently began distilling gin and whiskey and today will launch its canned cocktail program. The canned cocktail lineup includes Whiskey Ginger, Whiskey Cola and Gin & Tonic.
Colton Weinstein is the head distiller of Corsair Distillery in Nashville and one of the new members of ACSA’s Board of Directors. Weinstein has been active for many years with our spirits competition and most recently, as chair of the Safety Committee. We caught up with him to talk about the year ahead and Corsair’s expansion.
As a newly elected board member, what are your top priorities for the coming year?
Weinstein: I came in wanting to focus on two main points: making FET reduction permanent, and building the ACSA safety program to be the best resource in our industry. Once we have a bit of breathing room on FET, it will be time to double down and make OSHA jealous of us.
As the chair of the Safety Committee, what are some resources or events that ACSA members can look forward to in the near future?
The Safety Committee has taken a three-pronged approach to building our safety program. Behind the scenes we are working on a guiding document that will outline for our members what a good safety program looks like, the steps required to build such a program, and how to train and implement the safety protocols necessary to a well-functioning facility. In the meantime, we have been hosting safety webinars covering a wide range of topics, including insurance audits, grain handling (both on a physical and microbial level) and boiler safety. We are also in the final stages of creating a set of ‘toolbox talks’ which will serve as quick guides (slides) covering important topics in an easily digestible format. We are always looking for help on the committee, so anyone committed to safety should feel free to reach out and volunteer!
What was your reaction to the recent news that the House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation extending the reduced Federal Excise Tax for craft distillers to December 21, 2020?
Why wasn’t it made permanent? But seriously, everyday we can extend the reduction is a huge boom for our industry and distilling community. That was my immediate reaction, followed by an uneasiness that with this extension the momentum and energy behind the lobbying effort to make FET reduction permanent will slow, and we cannot let that happen.
Last year Corsair announced a major expansion. How is the progress going and what can people expect at the new space?
As everyone who has started a distillery, gone through an expansion or just tried to build something in general knows, everything is going on time, under budget and without hiccups!
While we’ve gone through a few expansions before, this new space will be quite a step up from what we’re used to, with a capacity well beyond what we’ve ever had before. We’ve got boilers I could stand straight up in, a cooling tower the length of an Olympic pool, and of course the pretty stuff like a 40-foot copper column still. We haven’t fully fleshed out the tour and guest side of the venture yet, but with Nashville growing at the rate that it is, and the tourism scene blowing up here, we are definitely going to need something more than your average walk through and look.
For you, what are the biggest challenges and/or most exciting aspects of the expansion?
For me the challenge has been wrapping my head around the sheer scale of things. At our current scale, it’s a lot easier to implement a MacGyver style fix if something isn’t working quite as it’s supposed to. At the new facility that won’t be so easy, so ensuring everything is engineered to fit together and work the way we want it to from the start is key. On the plus side, every time a new piece of equipment comes in it feels like it’s my birthday all over again. So far I’ve had about 15 birthdays this year alone!
You’re one of the hosts of the Still Talking podcast, which started more than a year ago. What have been some of the most interesting or surprising things that you’ve learned since starting that project?
Oh no, who spilled the beans about my secret life?! The podcast has been great, and the best part has been the response from Listener. The energy and participation we get from fans is beyond what we ever imagined. Going in the idea was to start recording the conversations we were already having amongst ourselves about the industry. We had no clue whether people would be interested or not, but the response was almost immediate and overwhelmingly positive. It has given us a chance to start a conversation beyond our circle and learn how other people around the industry are operating and what their perspectives on all the nuances of the job are. Mostly it has taught me that it’s not just us, the whole industry has a pretty good sense of humor.
Are there any upcoming products coming from Corsair that you’re excited about?
Corsair celebrated its 11th anniversary this year. For the past decade we took the approach of more SKUs and the crazier the better; we had a lot of home runs over the years, but also a pretty big wall of shame. The past year we’ve been dialing it back a bit, focusing on a few core products and really honing in on them from a quality perspective. That’s not to say we’ve taken a full 180, and once the new facility comes online we’ll get right back at it.
2018 Annual Report Now Available
ACSA’s 2018 Annual Report is now available, The report includes a look back at all of our activities throughout 2018, as well as key government affairs initiatives, highlights from the most recent Craft Spirits Data Project and ACSA’s full annual budget. If you would like to receive a copy of the report, please e-mail Carason Lehmann at email@example.com and be sure to include the subject line “2018 Annual Report.” Also, the report is now available for download in PDF form at the ACSA website.
We showcase notable books of interest to the craft spirits community.
Modern Moonshine: The Revival of White Whiskey in the Twenty-First Century
Editors: Cameron D. Lippard and Bruce E. Stewart
Publisher: West Virginia University Press
The craft of making moonshine—an unaged white whiskey, often made and consumed outside legal parameters—nearly went extinct in the late twentieth century as law enforcement cracked down on illicit producers, and cheaper, lawful alcohol became readily available. Yet the twenty-first century has witnessed a resurgence of artisanal distilling, as both connoisseurs and those reconnecting with their heritage have created a vibrant new culture of moonshine. While not limited to Appalachia, moonshine is often entwined with the region in popular understandings.
The first interdisciplinary examination of the legal moonshine industry, Modern Moonshine probes the causes and impact of the so-called moonshine revival.
Are You Afraid of the Dark Rum?: and Other Cocktails for ’90s Kids
Author: Sam Slaughter
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Are You Afraid of the Dark Rum? is a tongue in cheek cocktail book for the former ’90s kid and those just discovering how cool old-school Nickelodeon and Delia’s once were. With recipes for alcoholic versions of childhood favorites like Ecto-Cooler and Mondo as well as creative pop-culture inspired originals like the Rum and Stimpy and Semi-Warmed Kind of Cider, this is a perfectly giftable mix of humor, nostalgia, and tasty recipes.