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:
160 days. 31 hours. 256 sessions. That represents my personal dedication to fulfilling one of my 2020 goals: I will meditate DAILY. And, much to my own dismay, with a head-start during the month of December, I began and I’m continuing to meditate.
Little did I know then that meditation would be central to keeping me sane during this journey through the pandemic. Refocusing my breathing has compelled me to refocus my mind. Taking a few minutes each day (actually, I’m averaging seven) enables me to understand the reality of life — things change ALL the time, even for example, the length of my breath. Sitting still allows clarity of what is happening around me. And, with that, one of the biggest lessons came today:
We don’t need to search for creativity; we just need to pay attention to what already exists. —Headspace May 28, 2020
Removing the barrage of clutter from spammers who know how to “fix” ACSA’s current issues, to endless phone solicitations to invest in new products, to e-mails demanding I must read this one article, gives me focus on their collective messaging: IF I buy into their product or service, any impact of the pandemic will disappear. Hmmmmm….I’m guessing not.
Working with a trusted team of ACSA volunteers, from board members to our rank-and-file supporters (both DSPs and suppliers) has allowed us to pay attention to our current needs and be deliberative (and creative) in response.
We moved our Board elections to a virtual platform vote and installed new officers. We will soon hold a virtual membership Town Hall to give our Board of Directors nominees the opportunity to address members “in person” before we open the ballot in early July. We know that cash flow is tough so we added a full quarter of a year to annual memberships and are allowing others to join with that added benefit.
We’ve produced a bevy of COVID-19 resources to simplify guidance and new regulations surrounding business operations, whether it is on the PPP or hand sanitizer production. And, how about Five x 5 Solutions Vodka Old Fashioned?
While I’m not in the habit of using this space to proselytize, I encourage any reader to consider meditation. In some ways, it’s not much more than the advice that was lent to me as a new mother many years ago when I was flummoxed at the action of one of my daughters, “Just remember to breathe!” Yes indeed, it helps with both perspective and creativity.
Wishing you health and safety,
Newly-Appointed Veteran Board Members to Steer ACSA
The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) this week announced the election of Becky Harris of Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. (VA) as the President of the Board of Directors. She has served as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors since 2019. P.T. Wood of Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (CO) and Jeff Kanof of Copperworks Distilling Company (WA) have also been elected as the organization’s Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively. Together, Harris, Wood, Kanof and the current Board of Directors will work with CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman to address the key issues facing the craft distilling industry, including COVID-19 industry recovery efforts and Federal Excise Tax reform.
“I am honored to be chosen by my fellow board members, a group of incredible leaders within our craft distilling community, as president, and I am excited to build on ACSA’s technical and legislative leadership during such a challenging time,” said Becky Harris. “I have already worked closely with the Board of Directors as head of our COVID-19 Task Force, where we have helped the organization build exhaustive resources on sanitizer best practices, PPP and SBA loan assistance, and direct shipping, and I look forward to continuing this work as our industry recovers. I know the road ahead may be long, but I am eager to help our community of more than 2,000 craft distilleries in any and every way possible.”
“As Mayor of my hometown of Salida, CO, and a small business owner myself, I understand the hurdles we all face on the road to economic recovery, and I am looking forward to helping our fellow craft distillers,” added P.T. Wood.
“As a lawyer and the owner and operator of a craft distillery, I’m excited to utilize my legal experience and my deep understanding of the challenges we all face in the current climate to move our industry forward,” added Jeff Kanof.
ACSA will be holding its regular Board of Directors election in the coming months digitally, once the candidates have the opportunity to address the membership, which typically happens at the organizations’ Annual Convention and Trade Show and was postponed due to COVID-19. Additionally, 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, Mentorship, DtC and Development.
The Board of Directors is comprised of the following individuals:
Maggie Campbell, Privateer Rum Distillery (MA)
Becky Harris, Catoctin Creek (VA)
James Montero, Dogfish Head Distilling Co. (DE)
Ryan Christiansen, Caledonia Spirits (VT)
CENTRAL & MOUNTAIN
Amber Pollock, Backwards Distilling Co. (WY)
Colin Keegan, Santa Fe Spirits (NM)
Colton Weinstein, Corsair Artisan Distillery (TN)
Courtney McKee, Headframe Spirits (MT)
Chris Montana, Du Nord Craft Spirits (MN)
Thomas Mote, Balcones Distillery (TX)
P.T. Wood, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (CO)
Dan Farber, Osocalis Distillery (CA)
Jake Holshue, Old Trestle Distillery (CA)
Jeff Kanof, Copperworks Distilling Co. (WA)
Molly Troupe, Freeland Spirits (OR)
Ex Officio – Thomas Jensen, New Liberty Distillery (PA)
ACSA Board Elections Virtual Town Hall Slated for June, Voting Set for July
ACSA Board of Director elections were scheduled to take place in April, once the candidates had the opportunity to address you during our ACSA Town Hall, which would have occurred during our annual convention. With our Journey to Craftlandia postponed due to the pandemic, our elections were similarly impacted.
Here is the new plan:
ACSA will be holding a virtual Town Hall in June so you can both meet our new officers and get acquainted with the slate of candidates. Each nominee for the Board seat will be given 3 minutes to share their platform—namely, why they are the right candidate to represent your interests within the industry. Voting will then open in July with the new Board fully installed by August 1, 2020.
As distilleries and suppliers navigate these uncertain economic times, the ACSA membership committee and Board of Directors understand the difficult decisions businesses are making each day during the COVID-19 crisis. And, in light of the economic downturn, we are offering 15 months of membership for the price of 12 months! Won’t you consider joining us?
The American Craft Spirits Association is more than a trade group; it’s where you can learn, create and come together in our community of craft spirits producers and suppliers. We have so much to offer, so join today and discover your ACSA membership benefits! Register here to determine fees that would be applicable to your specific entity. If you have any questions about what a membership would mean to you, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be delighted to answer questions.
ACSA recently kicked off Craft Spirits Live on Instagram Live. Each week, we’ll connect with a leading craft spirits producer for distillery tours and engaging conversation.
June 3: Molly Troupe, Freeland Spirits
June 10: Mark A. Vierthaler, Tenth Ward Distilling Co.
June 17: Murphy Quint, Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery
June 24: Colin Keegan, Santa Fe Spirits
July 1: Michael Myers, Distillery 291
July 8: Heather Shade, Port Chilkoot Distillery
July 15: Jeff Kanof, Copperworks Distilling
July 22: P.T. Wood, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery
click here and make sure you’re following @craftspiritsus on Instagram.When we start a live video, our profile picture will appear at the top of the feed with a colorful ring around it and the word Live. Tap or click our profile picture to view our live video. You can watch the live videos on the Instagram app or on Instagram.com. And you can also watch a replay in our Instagram Stories for up to 24 hours after the interview.
COVID-19 At A Glance
During the COVID-19 pandemic, ACSA remains steadfast in its mission to elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers. In case you’ve missed them, here’s a look at some of our recent initiatives.
Guidelines for Reopening Tasting Rooms During COVID-19
As many areas of the country are loosening restrictions on social distancing and opening up the economy, tasting room practices will need to adapt to meet various directives. ACSA has compiled the following health and safety guidelines for reopening distillery operations during COVID-19, from published government guidance documents including those from the FDA, CDC and OHSA.
Recently, ACSA leadership met with the FDA and the biggest takeaways were the importance of following current FDA guidelines and the necessity to register if you are producing hand sanitizer, packaging or labeling for distribution (either for sale or donation). You must also register with the FDA if you are manufacturing ethanol for use by others in making sanitizer.
If you are concerned about improper production or labeling of hand sanitizers, we owe it to our industry to help that DSP who may be out of compliance. ACSA has developed a complaint process to allow you to anonymously file a complaint. ACSA will evaluate the claim and communicate with the distillery manufacturing the hand sanitizer, in an effort to determine the nature of the violation and help lend guidance to bring the product into full compliance. As we push for modernization and seek further regulatory relief, it is critical that we adhere to government regulation in all aspects of our business operations. Please use this form to lodge a complaint.
Save the Date: Friday, June 5, 3 p.m. ET
Financial Planning in the New Normal
What comes next after Covid-19? Jeff Clark of Live Oak Bank will offer insight on the challenges and opportunities that come from change, what banks will be looking for as we move forward and how distillers can be proactive as we financially plan for the future. Further details and registration information will be available Tuesday, June 2.
Access Our Archive of Complimentary COVID-19 Webinars
In case you missed them, all of our COVID-19 webinars are complimentary and available to download at the following links. Please note that some of the webinars may have some suggestions that are outdated as the guidance around hand sanitizer has rapidly changed. Please review the newest FDA and TTB guidance to ensure you are following the prescribed protocol.
Caroline Calhoun is the general manager of FIVE x 5 Solutions, where she has previously served as a customer support representative, customer success manager, product manager and development manager. We caught up with her recently to see how FIVE x 5 Solutions is adapting during the pandemic.
ACSA: What services does FIVE x 5 Solutions offer to craft distillers?
Caroline Calhoun: FIVE x 5 Solutions is the maker of DISTILL x 5, the leading distillery management software. Our job is to be the extra set of hands in the distillery, tracking inventory, putting together CFR-required daily report and monthly federal reports, and everything in between, for distillers in the U.S. and around the world.
How are you all adapting during the pandemic?
Our team is lucky in being able to easily transition to fully remote work. For the safety of our team, we stopped working in the office before quarantines rolled out, and have developed a great distributed environment. We have a weekly virtual happy hour, multiple video conference meetings per week, and have even been able to transition our monthly education sessions to video conference. We’re really disappointed to miss the opportunity to connect with friends and clients at the annual trade shows this year, but we’ve been really impressed by the industry’s approach to keeping everyone safe.
We took a peek at the company and your own Instagram accounts and noticed you all are posting some beautiful cocktail photos and recipes. Can you tell us a little bit more about those? And tell us more about this VODKA Old Fashioned.
The infamous Vodka Old Fashioned! The Fx5 Company Cocktail series started from a desire to highlight some of the incredible spirits our clients make, and to put our bartending skills to the test. It’s been a great way to spotlight some of our amazing industry partners, and I’ve gotten some delicious drinks out of it, too!
The Vodka Old Fashioned was something I knew would be polarizing for all of us whiskey drinkers. While my go-to cocktail will always be a traditional Old Fashioned, I really wanted to highlight the incredible craft vodka our friends at The Family Jones have with Annika Jones. Especially with the recent changes to the TTB’s standards of identity for vodka, I think there’s a huge opportunity for truly grain-forward, complex vodkas in the market. Annika Jones, which is made from single-estate Colorado grains, is a unique, full-bodied, flavorful expression of vodka that made it a perfect substitute for whiskey in an Old Fashioned-style cocktail. I know it’s still controversial, but I’d really encourage skeptics to give it a shot!
What do you see as some of the biggest changes and new trends to watch in the distilling industry as we continue to navigate life during the pandemic?
It’s really hard to overstate the impact that tasting room, bar and restaurant closures have had on craft distilleries across the country and around the world. It’s difficult for smaller producers to build their brand when they can’t provide the experience their distillery or tasting room offers, and for those distilleries without distribution partners it’s almost impossible to get product in the hands of consumers right now. I’m hopeful that regulations will adapt to the times with a loosening of restrictions in e-commerce, which Nielsen recently reported was up 234% year-over-year for alcohol.
I’ve also loved seeing the propagation of cocktail kits among distilleries around the country. It’s a great learning experience for consumers, sales opportunity for distilleries, and generally a really neat way to bridge the gap between a tasting room and an RTD cocktail. While it’s not hard to imagine that this unprecedented economic hit could lead to the closure of some distilleries, I’m hopeful that most can rally their communities to carry them through this epidemic.
What advice do you have for distilleries during these uncertain times?
I truly believe that the distilleries who pull through this will be those who are able to connect with and galvanize their communities, as Tom Mooney of Westward Whiskey pointed out in The New York Times. I’d encourage all distilleries to really lean on that community support, and to utilize social media to continue telling their story. Additionally, I think it’s incredibly important that the distillery community come together to advocate for change through their industry groups, including ACSA—it’s much harder for legislators and others in government to ignore our collective voice. It’s also critical to continue protecting the operation by remaining as compliant and thorough in record-keeping as possible. While it feels like regulations are changing weekly, the CFR is still the standard for compliance and it’s crucial everyone stays above-board despite uncertainty.
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Craft Spirits TV
Copperworks Crowdfunds & ACSA Announces New Board Officers
Copperworks Distilling details its successful crowdfunding campaign and we congratulate Becky Harris (Catoctin Creek), P.T. Wood (Wood’s High Mountain Distillery) and Jeff Kanof (Copperworks Distilling), the new President, Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively, of the American Craft Spirits Association’s Board of Directors.
Share Your Story With Craft Spirits Magazine
Do you have exciting stories to share about your distillery? We’re on the lookout for news for future issues of Craft Spirits magazine. Keep us posted on new products, events, trends, tips and more by sending us a note at email@example.com.
Survey: How is COVID-19 affecting your distillery?
Has COVID-19 affected your distillery? To help ACSA better understand how the pandemic is affecting your bottom line and your employees, please complete the following survey. It should only take a few minutes of your time.