The Monthly Mash: May 2023

Volume 8.5

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:

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

—Benjamin Franklin

I was given the gift of high energy coupled with determination (some call it willfulness while others may even jump to stubbornness). Now I’m wondering if it should be renamed to persistence.

ACSA provides me with a comfortable career home as it mirrors those characteristics, shown by the bevy of initiatives it commits to. For instance, why can’t we ship alcohol through the United States Postal Service? Doesn’t really make sense when there are literally more than 30,000 post offices compared with limited outlets for UPS and FedEx, two for-profit businesses that our trade currently relies on to ship products. Fortunately, Congress is beginning to get it. Read on to learn about a recent bill that was introduced in the House of Representatives.

Better yet, why can’t we ship spirits in the overwhelming majority of states? In 2023, why don’t we have access to our consumers through direct-to-consumer shipping? Wouldn’t that go a long way to support the three-tier system as an on-ramp for our brands?

As our industry continues to grow (we won’t know for sure unless you complete the Craft Spirits Data Project, which will be released in June!), will spirits be recognized in state promotion boards or an agri-tourism office within USDA? Will we need to raise our voices to signify the importance of agriculture, hospitality and tourism to our industry? See what ACSA is doing to help support these concepts by reading CRAFT SPIRITS magazine.

It will take lots of volunteers to help ACSA improve diversity within our industry, one of the central tenets of our strategic plan. Do you have the willingness and energy to help? Keep reading to learn more about the STEPUP Foundation.

Energy and persistence. Yes, ACSA is indefatigable to make your businesses successful. We will not cease to represent your interests and will continue to work with state guilds until the job is done. Many of these efforts will take years, but that’s okay. We’ve got the energy, drive and ambition. We look forward to working with you to continue to fight for fairness within our spirits sector.




USPS Shipping Equity Act Reintroduced in Congress

This month, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced the USPS Shipping Equity Act (H.R. 3721) alongside Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) and eight original House co-sponsors. This legislation would end the Prohibition-era ban that prevents the United States Postal Service (USPS) from shipping alcoholic beverages to consumers and allow them to ship directly from licensed producers and retailers to consumers over the age of 21, in accordance with state and local laws at the delivery location. This bill is critical in leveling the playing field and increasing consumer and manufacturer choice while bringing in millions of dollars in revenue per year.

“We thank Representatives Newhouse and Wexton for their bipartisan legislation,” said Margie A.S. Lehrman. “As our small, domestic businesses have grown over the past 15 years, allowing the USPS to ship craft spirits will provide access to another important delivery option for small distillers in the U.S. Many of those distilleries are located in rural areas where support of their local Main Street matters. Access to the 31,000 post offices in the U.S. would be a game changer, helping their small businesses to succeed and grow. We hope the Congress will act soon on this important small business initiative.”

“While other carriers deliver alcoholic beverages directly to consumers, current law prohibits USPS from taking similar action,” said Rep. Newhouse. “Allowing USPS to deliver wine, beer and spirits produced across our great nation provides another option for shipping carriers. This is extremely beneficial to small craft breweries and locally owned wineries, especially in rural regions like Central Washington, who struggle to gain market access. The time has come for us to shatter these barriers and unlock the tremendous potential of the wine and alcoholic beverage industry. This crucial legislation has the potential to create opportunity for the wine, beer and spirits landscape, foster economic growth and empower consumers and businesses alike.”

“The outdated prohibition on shipping alcohol through the Postal Service is bad for consumers and bad for small businesses—imposing unnecessary costs and hassle,” said Rep. Wexton. “I’m proud to partner with Rep. Newhouse on this long-overdue, bipartisan reform to support local brewers, vineyards and distillers by improving their affordable shipping options and opening up access to new markets.”

Read More

State Spirits Boards Help Put Craft on the Map

ACSA is currently tracking more than 1,000 bills that have been introduced in state legislatures across the nation. Among those are several efforts to create state spirits promotion boards. As noted in a feature story in the latest issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine, the idea of creating these boards is a popular one in the industry. In a recent ACSA town hall survey, 82% of respondents were in favor of the ACSA supporting efforts to expand such boards in states across the country. “It’s an emerging trend,” says Michael Walker, ACSA’s state policy advisor. “Creating new promotion boards or expanding existing promotion boards to include spirits will provide opportunities for craft distillers to partner with other industries in their respective states such as agriculture and tourism that help support their local communities and economies.”
Read the Article

Coming Soon: Craft Spirits Data Project

Along with our hand-picked partner, Park Street, ACSA will soon release the call for responses to the Craft Spirits Data Project, the chief economic data study for craft spirits producers. Your input helps us tell legislators and media about the growth of the craft spirits industry and how your small businesses contribute to the economy. Please stay tuned for updates and be ready to complete the survey.


Register Your Whiskey by June 15 for Early-Bird Rates

Discounted registration for the Heartland Whiskey Competition closes on June 15. Register your whiskey today to save 25% on each spirit entered!

ACSA Members*: $132 per spirit ($175 normally)

Non-Members: $147 per spirit ($195 normally)

Members: Register Here*
Non-Members: Register Here

*Members must login to receive discounted pricing.


Craft Whiskey Producers to Compete for Best of State, Best of Show and Top Farmer-Distiller

Judging for the 2023 Heartland Whiskey Competition will take place August 1-2 in St. Louis, Missouri. This is the fourth biennial Heartland Whiskey Competition that state corn marketing associations have sponsored. The judged competition is sanctioned by ACSA and strictly limited to craft whiskeys that contain some amount of corn as an ingredient. Any craft distiller in the U.S. is eligible to enter product for judging in multiple whiskey categories (e.g., bourbon, bottled in bond, rye, etc.). The most coveted awards are “Best of State,” which are limited to only those states sponsored by their respective corn associations, and “Best of Show,” which represents the top scoring whiskey across all categories and is also limited to sponsored states.

New for the 2023 competition is a national, “cross-category” award: Top Farmer-Distiller. This award will go to the top-scoring whiskey across all categories that is produced by a distillery whose owner(s) operates a working farm. The first three competitions saw farmer-distillers walk away with scores of medals and trophies including several “Best-of-State.” The new farmer-distiller award recognizes the heritage of craft distilling and farming, and offers the opportunity for one accomplished distiller to earn bragging rights.

Learn More


STEPUP Applications for 2024 Now Open

Applications for interns, mentors, DSPs and wholesalers are now being accepted for the 2024 year!

STEPUP (Spirits Training Entrepreneurship Program for Underrepresented Professionals), provides underserved and underrepresented individuals with hands-on training and education, encouragement, and opportunities to enter the spirits community through a comprehensive internship program like no other in the alcohol beverage industry.

Working with distilleries and wholesalers throughout the United States, STEPUP provides a comprehensive, hands-on training program with a living stipend and provides job exposure for those of different races, color, national origins, abilities, genders and sexual orientations.

If you or someone you know might be a good fit as an intern, mentor, host DSP or wholesale distributor, please apply!

Apply Now



Craft Spirits & Food Month

This year ACSA is marking its 10th anniversary, and each month we’re celebrating with a new initiative. This month we welcomed Craft Spirits & Food Month. All month in our Craft Spirits Weekly newsletter, we shared stories and examples of spirits and food pairings. One example was a menu of a four-course food-and-cocktail pairing event that J. Carver Distillery of Waconia, Minnesota, presented earlier this month in collaboration with The Lake Room, a restaurant in Navarre, Minnesota.

First Course and Cocktail Pairing

Tuna Poke

Skin on house chips, ginger soy marinade, avocado, black sesame seeds, wasabi and sriracha cream

Paired with Lake House Vodka Vesper Cocktail

Second Course and Cocktail Pairing

Green Goddess Mini Wedge

St. Pete’s bleu cheese, man-candy bacon, soft boiled egg, heirloom tomatoes

Paired with J. Carver Gin and Jam Cocktail

Third Course and Cocktail Pairing

Braised Short rib with Pappardelle

Red wine demi glace, sautéed garlic spinach garnish

Paired with J. Carver Straight Bourbon Lake Room Manhattan Cocktail

Fourth Course and Cocktail Pairing

Bananas Foster Bread Pudding

Toasted brioche, creme anglaise, caramelized bananas

Paired with Runestone Straight Rye Whiskey Infused Sweet ‘n Savory Nip

The ACSA Guide to Starting and Operating a Distillery

As part of our 10th anniversary celebration, in June ACSA is launching an exclusive e-book, “The ACSA Guide to Starting and Operating a Distillery.” 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. In addition to serving as a textbook for craft spirits producers in their first one to three years in operation, it’s an invaluable resource for onboarding new members of your team, as well as a reference for existing staff to gain a more holistic view of how a distillery operates.
Pre-Order Now

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


Bruce Tyler of Weldon Mills Distillery

Our latest guest on The Craft Spirits Podcast is Bruce Tyler, the co-founder of Weldon Mills Distillery in Weldon, North Carolina. Tyler is a former active-duty member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps who opened the distillery with his friend and business partner Michael Hinderliter at the start of the pandemic in 2020. One year later, the distillery’s corn whiskey, Rockfish, claimed best in show at the Heartland Whiskey Competition. In this episode, Tyler—who is also the vice president of the North Carolina Distillers Association—discusses the surprise of that Heartland honor; the distillery’s bourbon and other products; a second location in Durham; plans for a bed & breakfast near the distillery; an upcoming North Carolina bourbon and spirits festival; and more.
Listen Now


Read the May/June Issue of CRAFT SPIRITS Magazine

The May/June issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine is here, and this issue examines obstacles and opportunities for U.S. distilleries producing agave spirits; the growing trend of state spirits boards; how to make your operations less vulnerable to cyberattacks; and much more.
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.
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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.


ACSA will soon open the Call for Presentations for the 11th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show. Stay tuned for updates.


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 4,542 DSPs! Find the full list by clicking on Spirit Producers and Bottlers here.

Don’t miss these upcoming drink holidays:

  • June 2: National Moonshine Day
  • June 12: World Gin Day
  • June 14: National Bourbon Day
  • June 19: National Martini Day

Social Media

Follow our social media channels and tweet at us (@craftspiritsus)tag us on Instagram, connect with us on LinkedIn, follow us on YouTube or post to our Facebook Page and we’ll be sure to share it!

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

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