The Monthly Mash: November 2020

The Monthly Mash

Volume 5.11

Member-Owned, Industry-Driven
ACSA 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 Our Craft Spirits Community:

With Thanksgiving in our rearview mirrors, I remain focused on gratitude. We have a family tradition of going around the holiday table to identify and share those items for which we are most thankful. This year, separated from family by miles due to the coronavirus, was no exception. However, what seemed to have changed was appreciation for access to those items we previously took for granted. At the top of our list, no surprise, was technology. Without Zoom and clever apps, we would have missed the hour of family time trivia. It was fun to reminisce about where grandma and grandpa met. Technology helped bridge the gap between families, making the pain of separation a little less intense. Clean water, safe flights, restaurants that prepared take-out Thanksgiving feasts, and international spices in the grocery store also highlighted our lists. Putting party affiliation aside, we also agreed that we are thankful to live in a democracy.

On a professional level, being inside an industry that works collectively for the betterment of our trade is super rewarding. We see that in our coalition group, working to reform federal excise tax. Tuesday, December 1, is a national CALL TO ACTIONin which we encourage anyone inside the industry to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives and urge them to pass the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.

Also we remain thankful for your innovation, which we see first-hand during our Annual Judging of Craft Spirits. Registration is now open, so take advantage of the early bird discounts.

Longevity is a reason to be grateful. Did you know that curiosity allows us to live longer? If you’re eager to expand your knowledge, join us for upcoming webinars and view how other distillers run their operations in Craft Spirits Live. If your learning style compels you to see the printed word, have you read and shared CRAFT SPIRITSmagazine? And, finally, our industry relies heavily on the packaging for your liquids. Check out the interview with the Glass Packaging Institute, a sponsor of our new packaging awards program. Yes—we are thankful for GPI’s partnership on that event.

As we round out the month, and soon the year, what are you most thankful for—in both your personal and professional life? Take that moment to create your own lists.

Until next month, be well and be safe,


ACSA, Alcoholic Beverage Industry Join in ‘Last Call’ Day of Action for FET Relief

The American Craft Spirits Association, along with other leaders in the beverage alcohol sector, are urging industry advocates across the nation to participate in a national Day of Action on December 1 by contacting their members of Congress to urge passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, S.362/H.R. 1175 (CBMTRA).

American craft distillers face the threat of a looming 400% increase in federal excise tax (FET) unless Congress takes action before the end of December. ACSA encourages Day of Action participants to call, tweet and email their members of Congress to pass this bipartisan legislation. ACSA is part of a group of beverage alcohol trade associations—including the Beer Institute, Brewers Association, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, American Distilled Spirits Alliance, Wine Institute, WineAmerica, the United States Association of Cider Makers and American Mead Makers Association—that is sponsoring the daylong campaign.

Congress returns this week from its Thanksgiving recess to complete its business for the year, and we have 31 days to renew or make permanent the lower FET currently in the craft beverage bills before Congress. Now is the critical time to act as our “last call” to keep our FET parity for craft distillers.

Will you take five minutes to call your Senators and Representatives in Congress?

Key Talking Points

  • In 2017, Congress enacted, for the first time, parity for craft spirits and provided a reduced Federal Excise Tax (FET) for craft distillers. Before passage of this bill, it was a one-size-fits-all flat tax rate on large and small distillers.
  • It was renewed for one year in 2019.
  • The reduced FET will expire on December 31, 2020.
  • We need craft distillers to call or email their Senators and Members of Congress to urge immediate passage of the bi-partisan bill S. 362 (now a nearly unprecedented 76 co-sponsors) and H.R. 1175 (now 351 co-sponsors). A model email is below for your use.
  • Our relief is needed now more than ever. Like restaurants, our industry has been devastated by the pandemic. Until this spring, the tax relief was working just as Congress believed it would. Craft distillers were re-investing in their businesses. They hired new employees, purchased American-made equipment and increased purchases from local agriculture.
  • The growth of craft distilling supports Main Street, small business job growth, exports, tourism, rural and urban America economic development, and locally sourced products, the vast majority of which are made and sourced in the U.S.
  • The legislation further helps craft brewers and vintners. This is the reason every major beer, wine and spirits group has endorsed these bills.
  • Without quick action, our businesses cannot plan for 2021 and if Congress fails to act, it is not an understatement that many will go out of business.
  • Please call or email your Representative and Senators today and ask them to co-sponsor S. 362 (202-224-3121), and H.R. 1175 (202-225-3121)
  • To determine your representative, go to and enter your zip code. For the Senate, it is easily found as
  • Thank you in advance for being proactive in support of the effort to make FET parity for craft distillers permanent.
Dear XXX:

I am writing to ask that you pass S. 362 or HR 1175, legislation that would make permanent a reduced Federal Excise Tax (FET) for craft distillers, brewers, vintners and cider makers at the earliest opportunity.

This important tax benefit will expire on December 31, 2020. If it is not renewed, many craft distillers will likely shut their doors for good, as they have struggled, like restaurants, to survive in the pandemic.

This should be an easy bill to pass. Over three-quarters of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate have already joined as co-sponsors.

In 2017, Congress enacted, for the first time, parity for craft spirits and provided a reduced Federal Excise Tax (FET) for craft distillers. Before passage of this legislation it was a one-size-fits-all flat tax rate on large and small distillers.

Before the pandemic crippled America’s economy, the tax relief was working just as Congress believed it would. Craft distillers re-invested in their businesses. They hired new employees, purchased American-made equipment and increased purchases from local agriculture. Now they are trying to survive and recover.

The growth of craft distilling supported Main Street, small business job growth, exports, tourism, rural and urban America economic development, and locally sourced products, the vast majority of which are made and sourced in the U.S. It can continue with the fair tax rate for craft producers.

The legislation further helps craft brewers and vintners. This is the reason every major beer, wine and spirits group has endorsed these bills.

Thank you for your consideration of this request and we hope that we can make this permanent or extend it by December 31, 2020.


XXXXX Distillery located in XXXX City

ACSA’s Judging of Craft Spirits Now Open for Entries!

ACSA is thrilled to announce that its 8th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits is now open for entries! ACSA takes great pride in conducting a rigorously professional judging program that recognizes the best craft spirits in the categories of Vodka/Grain, Gin, Brandy, Rum, Ready-to-Drink, Whiskey, and Specialty Spirits.

To ensure the health and safety of everyone involved, judging of spirits will take place remotely. And to ensure that this installment is held to the same professional standard as previous competitions, special arrangements are in place. All entered spirits will be stored in a locked room at Cardinal Sprits that is limited to the ACSA Judging Board, stewards and relevant ACSA and Cardinal Spirits staff. After the receiving deadline, the team will prepare tasting kits and packages that will be shipped to each judge. Spirits will be poured into clean vials that have been protected from any aroma/taint potential. Judging will take place remotely from April 15-23, 2021.

As always, the competition is open to all producers of craft spirits in the United States. Due to COVID-19, however, ACSA will not accept international entries this year.

Enter Now and Save $50 or More
Enter your products into the ONLY craft judging competition assembled, organized and overseen by you, the distilling community! Keep an extra $50 or more in your pocket and register your spirits by January 1, 2021 with early bird pricing.

Fees for ACSA Members

Early Bird: $200 per entry
General Fee: $250 per entry
Late Riser: $275 per entry

Fees for Non-Members

Early Bird: $300 per entry
General Fee: $350 per entry
Late Riser: $375 per entry

General Registration fees begin January 2nd through February 28th. The Late Riser fee will be from March 1st until registration closes on March 12th. All spirits must be received by March 17, 2021.

To enter, please complete the following steps:

  • ACSA members must be logged in to receive the discounted member rate. Login here.
  • If you’re not a member of ACSA, sign up and save hundreds of dollars on competition fees, webinars, convention registration, and more!
  • If you’re a non-member and do not wish to join, click here to enter.
If you forgot your login or need to check membership status, please contact

Save the Date: ACSA to Host Virtual Packaging Awards Ceremony Dec. 21

ACSA and CRAFT SPIRITS magazine will host a virtual ceremony via Zoom on Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. ET to announce the medalists in the inaugural Craft Spirits Packaging Awards. Sponsored by the Glass Packaging Institute, the awards celebrate excellence and creativity in the design of craft spirits labels and packaging. Medalists will be featured in the January issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine, with Best in Show gracing the cover. Stay tuned for details.

Special Thanks to Our Craft Spirits Packaging Awards Sponsor:

Survey: Health and Safety Measures at ACSA’s Annual Convention

ACSA’s 2021 Distillers’ Convention & Vendor Trade Show is scheduled for July 25-27 at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Kentucky. As we plan for a return to in-person events, we are keeping your health and safety top of mind. We’d like to hear your thoughts on safety measures that would make you most comfortable when attending the convention. Please click below to take this short, two-question survey.

Today’s the Day to Win Free Registration or Discounted Booth Space to ACSA’s Convention!

Time is running out to win free registration or discounted booth space to ACSA’s 8th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show in Louisville this summer. Put your creativity to the test and submit both a theme and logo by TOMORROW, DEC. 1, 2020. The convention committee will vote on the designs and the winning DSP or affiliate member (must be a member in good standing) will earn either complimentary ACSA registration for up to three people or $500 off booth space! Additionally the winner will be highlighted on ACSA’s social media channels.

Follow us on Instagram for Craft Spirits Live

Join ACSA for Craft Spirits Live, our new Instagram Live show. In each episode, a leading craft spirits producer invites us into their distillery for 30 minutes of engaging conversation and a virtual tour—as well as an opportunity to answer all of your burning questions.

December 2nd: Lisa Wicker, Widow Jane Distillery

December 9th: Gary Hinegardner, Wood Hat Spirits
December 16th: Heather Greene, Provision Spirits
December 23rd: No Craft Spirits Live
December 30th: No Craft Spirits Live
January 6th: Alex Laufer, One Eight Distilling
Not sure how Instagram Live works? Click here to learn more.

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. 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.

Q&A with Scott DeFife of

the Glass Packaging Institute

Editor’s Note: This Q&A originally appeared in the November issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine.

In honor of our inaugural Craft Spirits Packaging Awards, we reached out to Scott DeFife, president of the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI)—the trade association that represents the nation’s glass bottle suppliers and sponsor of our Awards—to address some of the major trends and issues within the glass container space, heading into 2021.

How has the pandemic impacted the glass packaging industry and how do you expect it to continue to impact it in 2021?

Scott DeFife: Glass manufacturers and recyclers quickly responded to the societal and economic effects of the pandemic. The manufacturing industry was quickly deemed an “essential business,” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. GPI’s member companies have since met the challenge and rising demand in the food and beverage industry, as a critical part of the supply chain. A significant increase for in-store grocery purchases in 2020 has given the glass packaging industry a unique opportunity to remind the general public of the long-term sustainability of glass packaging for food and beverages.

One major hurdle the packaging industry faced as a response to the pandemic was the halt of bottle redemption (a.k.a. “bottle bill”) programs in the 10 deposit states. The abrupt pause to these programs prevented consumers from returning their glass bottles, jars and other containers to retailers and caused a backlog in communities across the country. With the majority of the industry’s recycled glass coming from these programs, GPI led a rapid response with other material packaging partners to return these programs to operational status in a safe and expeditious manner.

This issue also served as a reminder to the larger packaging industry that recycled glass is absolutely critical for the production of new and sustainable glass products. The challenge presented also brought forth the need for investment to improve the overall recycling infrastructure, to expand upon the current collection systems, and improve the resiliency of the bottle deposit system and increase the quality of glass and all other recyclables collected in single-stream systems.

As we move toward 2021, I believe that the glass packaging industry will remain a top supplier of packaging materials for grocery stores and that consumers will continue to turn to glass for their safe and sustainable packaging needs.

What are packaging suppliers doing to reduce their carbon footprints?

The number one way to reduce carbon footprint with regard to glass is the increased use of recycled glass in the manufacturing process. Recycled glass is always part of the recipe for glass, and the more that is used, energy costs at the plant are decreased, along with greenhouse gas emissions. It is truly a win for both the company and the environment. The glass industry is also investing in a new generation of efficient furnaces, and glass companies also continuously seek ways to offset transportation-connected emissions, throughout their supply chain routes and in partnership with their customers.

What are the greatest opportunities for spirits producers?

Glass container manufacturing companies have placed an emphasis on flint (clear) glass, production, as they continue to broaden packaging options for spirits companies, and there are new printing and decoration technologies coming online. For American craft spirits producers, your North American glass manufacturing suppliers are domestic, nearby and ready to meet your bottling needs.

GPI member companies have also moved in recent years to more flexible and tailored production lines, enabling them to switch out bottle molds to provide unique options for spirits customers. All of the major multi-state producers have robust spirits lines, and the scheduled opening of the Arglass Yamamura glass container plant in Georgia by the start of the new year reflects the continued strength of glass, increased demand and options available to spirits producers. The ability for craft spirits companies to purchase unique bottles directly from glass manufacturing companies of all sizes enables them to get their product to market quicker and improves their overall supply chain efficiencies.

Craft spirits producers have taken a significant hit this year. Do you see that affecting their investment in packaging innovation or do you expect them to double-down on innovation because it’s more critical than ever to stand out on the shelf?

We have seen an incredible response from your industry to COVID. The spirits industry commitment to community should be applauded. Innovation, options and investment in glass bottle design for spirits brands continues to increase and should help your marketing efforts going forward. Spirits companies have long recognized the inherent and premium qualities that glass offers to showcase their products. Brands of all food and beverage packaging understand that choosing glass bottles and jars is in line with their sustainability goals. With increasing attention being paid to rising waste and plastic pollution, glass packaging remains an environmentally friendly and innovative option for craft spirits producers.

What are some of the recurring themes you see, in terms of packaging, within the spirits market? What are craft spirits producers looking for in their bottles? What are their most common requests? 

Increasingly, large and small batch craft spirits producers are seeking ways to have their bottle stand out on the shelf and bar display. In addition to increasingly intricate bottle design options, producers are exploring creative spaces in labeling, as they work with supply companies to provide the finishing touches to showcase their spirit. In addition to applied ceramic decorating and pressure sensitive labeling standards, producers are also looking at acid etching, medallion application and spray coating technologies to enhance their standing with consumers.

What do you see as 2021’s biggest packaging trends? 

One of the most significant packaging trends in 2021 will be product sustainability. Brands are helping to drive this effort, with company sustainability goals and other efforts to reduce their environmental footprint throughout the supply chain. Glass is well positioned among packaging to assist them in these efforts, with an endlessly recyclable package, and an average recycled glass content at roughly 30% nationwide that we are working to increase to meet brand objectives. This is an area we can make progress on together.

From the Pages of CRAFT SPIRITS Magazine

In case you missed it, the latest issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine includes:
  • A feature story about distillery owners serving in public office
  • Insights for craft spirits producers looking to boost off-premise sales
  • Tips for troubleshooting the most common fermentation challenges
  • Alluring cocktail recipes from ACSA members
  • And much more!

Process Issues Affecting Alcohol Yield With Tips for Prevention

Colin Blake and Patrick Heist, Ph.D., of Moonshine University, discuss the top areas of the distilled spirits production process that can affect yield and tips for how to prevent those losses.

Cane Consciousness

Sustainable sourcing, overall environmental impact, ethical industry practices and socioeconomic issues have long been a part of the conversation within the rum space, perhaps longer than it has in other categories.

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 2021 media kit to see what’s in store.

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.

Welcome Newest Voting, Affiliate and Candidate Members!
ACSA extends a warm welcome to a few of our newest members and sponsors:
Find out more about becoming a member here.

Did You Know?
  • The TTB has issued 3,623 DSPs! Find the full list here.
  • The origins and ingredients used to make the first eggnog are debated, but the first known use of the word nog was in 1693.
  • Don’t miss these upcoming drink holidays:
Dec. 14: National Screwdriver Day
Dec. 24: National Eggnog Day
Jan. 1: National Bloody Mary Day

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

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