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 Community:
May is my favorite month. With the weather warming, the flora popping, the birds chirping and farmers’ markets beginning to offer the treasures of the fields, endless possibilities of good things to come emerge.
This past month was no exception as I had the pleasure of visiting several members in three states: Indiana, Ohio and Virginia. Meeting those who work the stills, who run the tasting rooms, who get the products to market, and who help educate Congress reaffirmed how, when we work together, we strengthen our craft spirits industry.
And, there are plenty of upcoming opportunities to do just that.
Perhaps the most exciting new initiative is our BIG announcement: ACSA will soon have our own digital publication. You’ll be able to get more concentrated industry information at your fingertips. And, a regular news feed will keep you in the know. Plus, even better, YOU get to be a part of that process through sharing of information.
Of course, the upcoming months bring their own enticements. It’s not too late to participate in the Craft Spirits Data Project. Please complete that all important economic study. You’ll receive the report when released in September 2019.
And, if you produce whiskey and you haven’t yet registered for the Heartland Spirits Competition, stop what you’re doing and register now. A new benefit of medaling is FREE PR using both social and digital media campaigns.
Of course, not to be missed in June is Bar Convent Brooklyn. We’ll be offering a webinar on ACSA’s response to the TTB Proposed Rules. And, July brings our Public Policy Fly-In. Yes, there is something for everyone.
Good will come from the bonds we continue to nurture within the industry.
One last thing: In recognition of the hard work, dedication, and commitment of your ACSA staff, please note our summer hours: Doors close on Fridays at 1 pm until Labor Day to give a jump-start to the summer weekend—workloads and deadlines permitting. Working to exceed the goals of the Association is always our top priority.
Until next month, cheers!
Arriving This Summer:
Craft Spirits Magazine
We are thrilled to announce the upcoming launch of our new, bi-monthly digital publication, Craft Spirits Magazine, arriving this summer. The launch will coincide with the unveiling of the magazine’s official website, which will offer original content, as well as showcase some of the items that will appear on the pages of the magazine.
Here are are a few examples of what you’ll find in Issue No. 1 of Craft Spirits Magazine.
Cover Story: The Clock is Ticking on the FET Reduction
We’ll detail exactly what’s going on in Washington and the challenges ahead in the fight to make the tax cut from the Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act permanent. And we’ll provide you with all of the tools you need to join the effort in the months that remain before the FET reduction is due to expire.
New Member Profile: St. George Spirits
Master distiller Lance Winters and head distiller Dave Smith discuss the legacy of the pioneering California distillery.
Distribution: The Great Go-to-Market Puzzle
We explore all of the challenges and subtleties of the modern distribution landscape for small spirits producers.
Packaging: Can or Can Not
As ready-to-drink cocktails rise in popularity, aluminum cans have become an increasingly viable packaging choice for producers. But do they have spirits applications beyond RTDs?
Global Craft: English Whisky
English craft distillers were largely responsible for the global gin renaissance, but now they’re having a great deal of success with the spirit that made their neighbor to the north famous.
Technically Speaking: Shelf-Life Stability for Liqueurs
As craft producers eschew artificial ingredients in liqueurs, an expert weighs in on strategies for ensuring optimal shelf life.
… and much more! See you this summer!
Send News to 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.
Are you an American distiller who produces craft whiskey made from corn? If so, this is your chance to win gold at the Heartland Whiskey Competition! This competition is different from all others because besides earning a medal, you will have your brand marketed to craft spirits purchasers!
Sanctioned by the American Craft Spirits Association in cooperation with several state corn marketing boards, the second biennial competition will take place next week at CH Distillery in Chicago!
The Heartland Whiskey Competition is open to all 50 states and whiskey products must be made with corn.
The registration deadline HAS BEEN EXTENDED to May 28 and the receiving deadline is June 1.
With generous funding provided by state corn organizations, the 2019 Heartland Whiskey Competition winners will be promoted through a paid digital media campaign that is complemented by a social media campaign. This is in addition to the public relations activities that were part of the inaugural competition. The campaign will target craft spirits purchasers in each of the competing states.
ACSA Board of Director Becky Harris, CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman, Editor in Chief Jeff Cioletti, Public Policy Advisor Jim Hyland, members of the Virginia Distillers Association and Distilled Spirits Council staff talked tariffs and the federal excise tax with U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) during a roundtable discussion at Lost Rhino Brewing Co. in Ashburn, Virginia, on Friday, May 17.
Distillers detailed how retaliatory trade tariffs in Europe have all but eliminated their prospects to grow their export business.
“We had hoped to have 25 percent of our sales from the EU,” noted Becky Harris, ACSA Board Member and co-founder and distiller of Catoctin Creek Distilling in Purcellville, Va. “The price increase [from tariffs] couple with the difficulty on our part to absorb that cost—we have to pass that sort of thing along [to consumers]—means we’re non-competitive there now. There’s a global market for whiskey and we’re losing mindshare, as well as market share.”
Harris added that only 1 percent of Catoctin Creek’s 2018 sales came from the EU, thanks to the retaliatory tariffs.
Sen. Warner used the very audible sound effects from one of Lost Rhino’s many pinball machines—Star Wars, in particular—to articulate his analogy about the challenges that small producers face.
“If there’s any doubt about the threats that Becky and all of you face, you heard the Death Star in the next room,” Warner said. “The Death Star is starting to move closer.”
Gareth Moore, CEO and co-owner of Virginia Distillery Co. in Lovingston said his company had to dial back its export plans entirely.
“We’re not going into Europe in 2020, which was the original plan,” Moore revealed. “Right now it’s going to be too hard and it was already an expensive, competitive market.”
But the fact that Warner stopped short of committing to co-sponsoring Senate Bill 362—the re-introduced version of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act—underscores the work that still needs to be done on Capitol Hill. It also highlights the misinformation that travels in legislative circles. Warner’s reticence stemmed from the misconception that the mega-producers were benefiting from the FET reduction as much as craft producers are.
“I say this as a big supporter of business and I’ve said this of the big guys: there’s no reinvestment in America for that, they want to keep all of the [benefits],” Warner said.
He was unaware that the $10.80 that every distiller has saved on every proof gallon since the CBMTRA’s passage nearly a year and a half ago only applied to a distiller’s first 100,000 proof gallons. Additionally, he hadn’t realized that distillers would take a bigger hit than breweries and wineries if the FET reverts to pre-CBMTRA levels. Breweries and wineries already had a tiered system for large and small producers and they’d just revert to that. Small spirits producers would revert to paying the same level as the Jim Beams of the world.
After the meeting, Warner revealed that he was a bit more open to supporting the bill.
“I’m more aware, after the hour I spent here, of the immediate whack you would take,” Warner said.
ACSA CEO Addresses Ohio Distillers Guild
The ACSA Pavilion at Bar Convent Brooklyn Just Got Bigger!
With just two weeks to go until Bar Convent Brooklyn (BCB) kicks off at the Brooklyn Expo Center, we’re pleased to announce the newest additions to the ACSA Pavilion at the New York edition of Europe’s largest bar industry trade show: Cardinal Spirits of Bloomington, Indiana and returning participant Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. of Louisville, Kentucky. Bartenders, bar owners and managers, restaurants, food and beverage managers and distributors from all over the country and other parts of the world will be on hand to connect with members at our pavilion. Here’s the full, updated list of the participating distilleries and what they’ll be sampling:
• Cardinal Spirits (Bloomington, Indiana) will announce its BCB sampling lineup shortly.
• Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. (Louisville, Kentucky) will be bringing its American Brandy, Floodwall Apple Brandy, The Ninth: a Symphony in Orange, The History of Lovers, Destillare Intense Chocolat and Destillare Intense Cafe.
• Golden Moon Distillery (Golden, Colorado) will pour samples of Gun Fighter 13, Golden Moon Gin, Gun Fighter American Bourbon, Ex Gratia, Gun Fighter American Rye, Golden Moon Créme de Violette, Golden Moon Amer Dit Picon, Golden Moon Dry Curaçao, Golden Moon Kümmel and Redux.
• Gulch Distillers (Helena, Montana), will pour its Burrone Fernet, which won Best in Show at this year’s ACSA Craft Spirits Awards.
• Mad River Distillers (Warren, Vermont) will showcase Mad River Bourbon Whiskey, Mad River Revolution Rye, Mad River Vanilla Rum, Mad River Maple Cask Rum, Mad River PX Rum, Mad River Mad Apple and First Run Rum
• Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries (Glenshaw, Pennsylvania) will pour Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka, Boyd & Blair Professional Proof 151, BLY Rum Silver, BLY 105 Rum and BLY Ancho Chili Liqueur.
• Round Turn Distilling (Biddeford, Maine) will offer three versions of its Bimini brand: Bimini Gin, Bimini Overproof and Bimini Barrel Reserve No. 1.
• Wiggly Bridge Distillery (York, Maine) will pour its Small Barrel Bourbon, Vodka, Rum, Gin, Small Barrel Rum and Agave Blue Platinum.
Bar Convent Brooklyn takes place June 11-12 at the Brooklyn Expo Center in New York. For more information or to register, visit the BCB website.
WE STILL NEED YOUR INPUT!
Answer the 2019 Craft Spirits Data Project Survey
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. This is a critical year legislatively, with FET tax relief from the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act set to expire at the end of 2019, so 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. We’ve secured a discount rate of $209/night at the Phoenix Park Hotel.
Although Iowa is the number one producer of corn, the main ingredient in bourbon, it was only in recent years that distilleries started sprouting in the Hawkeye State. Thanks in part to a 2017 law allowing distilleries to sell their own product, the production of craft spirits is growing stronger and there are more than a dozen distilleries in the state. Here is a look at some of the notable distilleries in Iowa.
Founded in 2005 by Jeff Quint, Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery was the first licensed distillery in Iowa since Prohibition. Located in Swisher and the heart of America’s corn belt, Cedar Ridge also launched Iowa’s first post-Prohibition bourbon whiskey in 2010. Today, Cedar Ridge’s whiskey lineup includes five offerings: Iowa Bourbon, Single Malt, Malted Rye, Wheat and Reserve. The Iowa Bourbon is crafted of 74-percent family-farmed corn, and the Reserved version is aged five years. Cedar Ridge also produces Pear Brandy, Dark Rum, Apple Brandy, Grape Brandy, Howdy’s Apple Pie, Clearheart Gin, Clearheart Rum and Clearheart Vodka.
In West Des Moines, Foundry Distilling Co. opened in 2018, but founder Scott Bush draws on more than a decade of experience in distilling. After selling his controlling interest in Templeton Rye in 2016, Bush decided to focus on producing craft spirits in Iowa and designed Foundry with the flexibility to create virtually any spirit in large or small amounts. Currently, the distillery’s core lineup of products includes a vodka, gin and rum. Foundry recently released Okoboji Vodka, which is a nod to the Iowa Great Lakes region. Foundry also is developing a whiskey program, and it offers spirits enthusiasts the opportunity to create customizable private barrels of whiskey.
Located on a farm in Earling, Lonely Oak Distillery is a seed-to-spirit distillery owned and operated by Pat and Amy Hoffmann. Lonely Oak only uses raw ingredients grown on its farm or ingredients grown directly for the distillery by local producers. The distillery makes two varieties of bourbon and four types of vodka. The Steeple Ridge Bourbons draw their name from a site on Lonely Oak’s property where three church steeples are visible from a high ridge. The Bourbon and Single Barrel feature notes of cherry, vanilla, toffee and a touch of nuttiness. The North Forty Vodka is crafted with estate-grown wheat and in addition to the flagship vodka, Lonely Oak makes variations flavored with peach, raspberry and vanilla.
In the small town of Cumming, Iowa Distilling Co. crafts nearly 10 products inside a 100-year-old building. The 90-proof Straight Bourbon features aromas of baking spice and pipe tobacco, and Zone Vodka is made with Iowa corn. Prairie Fire is a cinnamon-flavored whiskey that is “not overly sugary, never syrup-y.” Iowa Distilling Co. also produces Country Gal Moonshine, Steel Drum Rum and the 151-proof Rocket Fuel.
On the eastern side of the state in Le Claire, Mississippi River Distilling Co.celebrates the marriage of land and water in the production of its spirits. Started in 2010 by brothers Ryan and Garrett Burchett, the distillery sources 100 percent of its grains from within 25 miles of Le Claire. Mississippi River Distilling Co. produces dozens of spirits, including several whiskeys under the Cody Road brand, which is named in honor of “Buffalo Bill” Cody, who was born in Le Claire. Regular offerings also include River Pilot Vodka, River Rose Gin and River Baron Artisan Spirit.
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.
Gin is a drink deeply rooted in our culture. From “Dutch Courage” to “Gin Soaked,” our language is full of expressions which reflect our gin-drinking heritage. In the early eighteenth century, Britain was gripped by the Gin Craze, when the drink was dubbed “mothers ruin,” before becoming more respectable as advances in distilling led to a drink of higher quality and improved flavor. This led to the construction of lavish “gin palaces” in the Victorian and Edwardian era. In recent years a twenty-first century renaissance in gin drinking and craft gin production has led to the drink once again rising high in the national consciousness.
Like a drunken Mardi Gras parade, the history of New Orleans lurches from electrifying highs to heart-rending lows. Through it all, good drink was a constant–especially rum. The victory at the Battle of New Orleans was sealed with a barrel of rum, and a half-hearted implementation of Prohibition a century later certainly didn’t dampen the city’s spirits. From priests making tafia to modern delights like Old New Orleans and Bayou, rum has always been an integral part of the funky, sultry, crazy story of the Crescent City. Longtime historian and writer Mikko Macchione presents a witty and informative history of the city and its love affair with the sweetest of liquors.
Three days after the meeting with Sen. Warner, ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman headed to Middle West Spirits in Columbus Ohio, where she updated an audience of about 60 craft spirits producers and industry suppliers on the Association’s public policy efforts. The meeting solidified Guild members’ commitment to working with their Congressional reps to ensure that the the FET reduction from the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act is made permanent or extended. Lehrman also updated the Ohio group on TTB’s proposed rulemaking changes for labeling, whose extended, June 26 deadline for feedback is fast approaching.