Craft Spirits September/October 2022

Page 54


D isti la Z y me

Pro cess aids f or higher ethanol yield and f erme nt ation consis ten c y. Vi e w o u r e x t en s i v e o e r in g o f c ra f t distillin g inp u ts a t
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2022 | 3 42 CONTENTS SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2022 5458 FEATURES 42 Gin’s Next Chapter American consumers are ready for the complex variety within the juniper spirit category. They just need some sectors of retail to catch up. BY JEFF CIOLETTI 50 High Marks Exploring the best-in-class honorees from the 2022 Judging of Craft Spirits 54 MEMBER IndomitableSPOTLIGHTSpirits St. Louis-based StilL 630 celebrates 10 years of craft distilling. BY JON PAGE 58 DISTILLING DESTINATIONS Crafted in Maine Craft distillers in Maine embrace tradition and innovation. BY JOHN HOLL Cover photography: Eric Waters
4 | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2022 CRAFTSPIRITSMAG.COM 8 Editor’s Note 9 Contributors NEW SPIRITS Recent12 releases from Garrison Brothers Distillery, Whiskey Del Bac, Milam & Greene Whiskey, Rogue Ales & Spirits and more IMBIBER ’ S BOOKSHELF 20 INDUSTRY UPDATE Three21 Roll Estate Rebrands as Oxbow Rum Distillery LEW ’ S BOTTOM SHELF 28 Where’s our hazy IPA? BY LEW BRYSON ACSA AFFAIRS ACSA30 Appoints Seasoned Strategic Hires to Guide Organization Into Next Phase of Growth Guidance on FDA Hand Sanitizer Informational Requests SNAPSHOTS Images34 from ACSA’s 9th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show and Tales of the Cocktail WHAT ’ S STIRRING Flavorful38 concoctions from Copperworks Distilling Co., Hardshore Distilling Co., Round Turn Distilling, Sweetgrass Farm Winery & Distillery, Three of Strong Spirits and Wiggly Bridge Distillery DEPARTMENTS 341238


64 Willing
Able Beyond Distilling Co. strives to offer fulfilling employment opportunities to adults with disabilities. BY JON PAGE LEGAL
66 Formula
How your drink’s formual affects your branding BY
68 Herbal Outfitters The bitter, floral, earthy side of BYliqueursCARRIE HAVRANEK SALES
72 Brand Extension The role of the parent brand in brand architecture BY
PACKAGING 74 Putting a Label on it A rundown of the latest options when it comes to label applicators BY ANDREW KAPLAN CLOSING TIME 76 Tracking Gin See where the spirit made gains and losses between 2020 and 2021 6874



EDITOR IN CHIEF | Jeff Cioletti,


ART DIRECTOR | Michelle Villas CONTRIBUTORS | Isaac Arthur, Lew Bryson, Carrie Havranek, John Holl, Andrew Kaplan, Luciana G. Salinas






STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS | Alexandra S. Clough, GATHER PR LEGAL | Ryan Malkin, Malkin Law, P.A.

PUBLIC POLICY | Jim Hyland, The Pennsylvania Avenue Group STATE POLICY | Michael Walker, The Walker Group, LLC


PRESIDENT | Becky Harris, Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. (VA) VICE PRESIDENT | Gina Holman, J. Carver Distillery (MN) SECRETARY/TREASURER | Jessica J. Lemmon, Cart/Horse Distilling (PA)


Becky Harris, Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. (VA)

Jessica J. Lemmon, Cart/Horse Distilling (PA) Tom Potter, New York Distilling Co. (NY)


Gina Holman, J. Carver Distillery (MN)

Colin Keegan, Santa Fe Spirits (NM)

Thomas Mote, Balcones Distillery (TX)

Amber Pollock, Backwards Distilling Company (WY)

Mark A. Vierthaler, Whiskey Del Bac (AZ)

Colton Weinstein, Corsair Artisan Distillery (TN) P.T. Wood, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (CO)


Thomas Jensen, New Liberty Distillery (PA)


Stephen Johnson, Revolution Spirits (TX)

ACSA PAST PRESIDENTS 2018-2020 | Chris Montana, Du Nord Craft Spirits 2017-2018 | Mark Shilling, Genius Liquids/Big Thirst 2016-2017 | Paul Hletko, FEW Spirits 2014-2016 | Tom Mooney, House Spirits



Dan Farber, Osocalis Distillery (CA)

Lucy Farber, St. George Spirits (CA)

Jake Holshue, Rogue Ales & Spirits (OR)

Jeff Kanof, Copperworks Distilling Company (WA)

Kelly Woodcock, Westward Whiskey (OR)

Eli Aguilera, Lew Bryson, Alexandra Clough, Sly Cosmopoulos, Dr. Dawn Maskell, Teri Quimby

For advertising inquiries, please contact For editorial inquiries or to send a news release, e-mail P.O. Box 470, Oakton, VA 22124 CRAFT SPIRITS magazine is a publication of the American Craft Spirits Association.

© 2022

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The cover image probably tipped you off that we’re going to be talking a bit about gin in this issue. The bulk of it is going to be in my article on page 42, but I have a few additional thoughts I’d like to include in this space.

Something that really resonated with me over the course of writing the cover story was the quote from Ryan Maloney, owner of the much-revered Massachusetts retail shop, Ju lio’s Liquors. He was talking about how selective he is about the sort of local craft gins he carries at the store, steering clear of “run-of-the-mill, out-while-our-whiskey-is-aging” gins. He focuses on producers that “actually want to be in the gin Simplycategory.”put,gin should never be an afterthought.

It reminded me of a related sentiment Lew Bryson ex pressed in his column a few issues back where he likened the pressure among some distillers to make whiskey to the pressure of barbeque hobbyists (and pros, for that matter) to make brisket. They’re too busy chasing their respective brass rings, that they miss the opportunity to excel in other categories—be they spirits or meats.

For the producers highlighted in the cover story—as well as hundreds of others across the country—gin is anything but an afterthought. They’re exemplifying what it is to be an American craft gin and helping redefine a spirit that for too long has let preconceived notions define it.

And it’s about time because, as far as spirits definitions go, gin has one of the more flexible ones, offering plenty of leeway for craft distillers to mad-scientist their way to novel flavor experiences. As long as it’s got a “main characteristic flavor derived from juniper berries produced by distillation or mixing of spirits with juniper berries and other aromatics or extracts derived from these materials and bottled at not less than 40% alcohol by volume” the TTB is cool with you calling it a gin. It doesn’t specify how much juniper you’ve got to use. It just has to be there and at least somewhat apparent. “Main characteristic flavor” is a fairly nebulous and subjective term,

so there’s some room to maneuver. The boundaries are practi cally inviting you to push them.

I know that, in some circles, there’s a heated debate over the existence of terroir in spirits. It can be quite a polarizing concept (I’m usually agnostic), especially in the whiskey realm. But if terroir’s going to be a factor anywhere, it’s in gin, due simply to the fact that producers can capture the flavors and aromas of their backyards with botanicals unique to their regions. And those characteristics will express themselves vibrantly in the finished products. That not only helps distill ers distinguish themselves from one another, it also encour ages more spirits tourism—something for which your city’s or state’s convention and visitors’ bureau will thank you.

Last year, Melissa and Lee Katrincic of Durham Distillery spearheaded the creation of the U.S. Gin Association and I’m excited to watch as it fortifies its structure, attracts new members and expands market access for gin makers. I hope there will be ample opportunities for us to partner with them in their efforts.

I’m not a fan of the saying __ is having a moment, as it’s been thrown around so much that’s been rendered meaning less. So I won’t use it in this case. Instead, I’ll say something like: American craft gin is having a future. Because its best, most dynamic days lie ahead. ■


Lew Bryson has been writing about beer and spirits full-time since 1995. He was the managing editor of Whisky Advocate from 1996 through 2015, where he also wrote the American Spirits column, and reviewed whiskeys. He is currently a Senior Drinks Writer for the Daily Beast, and also writes for, American Whiskey and Bourbon+. He is the author of “Tasting Whiskey” (Storey Publishing, 2014), a broad survey of the whiskeys of the world, their history and manufacture. He has also written four regional brewery guidebooks.

Luciana G. Salinas is of counsel to Malkin Law. Luciana holds a Bachelor of Arts de gree in International Studies from the Uni versity of Miami, a Master of Arts degree in International Relations, Europe – Latin America from the University of Bologna, and a Juris Doctor degree from the George Washington University Law School. She is admitted to practice law in New York and Florida. Luciana focuses on business law, assisting clients in a wide array of corpo rate transactions.

Isaac Arthur is a co-founder of CODO Design, an Indianapolis-based food and beverage branding firm founded in 2009 on the belief that they can create better work by directly including clients in the creative process. He is the author of the Craft Beer Branding Guide, co-author of Craft Beer, Rebranded, and writes a popular monthly newsletter with more than 5,500 subscribers called the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter. He also co-hosts the Beer Branding Trends podcast.

John Holl is a journalist covering the beer industry. He’s the author of several books including “Drink Beer, Think Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Every Pint” and “The American Craft Beer Cookbook.” He is the co-host of the podcast Steal This Beer, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wine Enthusiast and more. John has lectured on the culture and history of beer and judged beer competitions around the world.

Carrie Havranek is a food and bever age writer based in Easton, Pennsylvania, and the author of the cookbook “Tasting Pennsylvania.”

Andrew Kaplan is a freelance writer based in New York City. He was managing editor of Beverage World magazine for 17 years and has worked for a variety of other food and beverage-related publications, and also newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @andrewkap.


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The leader in supplying fermentation products and services to the distilled spirits industry, we specialize in the research, development, produc tion, and marketing of yeast, yeast nutrients, enzymes, and bacteria.

The Steric Systems PureSmooth pro cess is a method of “polishing” distilled spirits to reduce alcohol burn, open up and balance flavors, and improve mouth feel. It works on both aged and unaged spirits.

FIVE x 5 Solutions

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Malkin Law

Malkin Law focuses on serving the needs of the alcohol beverage industry. We regularly assist with licensing, review of industry specific agreements, trade practices and navigating state laws. Malkin Law is also honored to be Legal Counsel for ACSA.

Supercap has been producing closures for spirits since 1999. We are present in the United States with a great sales network with partners and agents, thus being able to help and advise you in the choice of the best stopper for your spirits.


At MGP, every step of creating a pre mium distilled bourbon, whiskey, rye, gin and vodka is guided by a passion bordering on obsession. We tirelessly collaborate with our partners, regard less of size, to develop and consistently produce the exact flavor profile that’s right for their brand. And for their discerning consumers.


Tapì is an international group special izing in the design and production of miniature packaging design mas terpieces. Our closures are based on cutting-edge functionality and technology, with an exclusive style that elegantly showcases each product.

Moonshine University

The nation’s premier educational distill ery, bringing together specialists from every facet of the industry to provide education, training and professional services to start-ups and existing companies. Moonshine University is housed next door to sister company Flavorman, an international custom beverage development company.

Thousand Oaks Barrel Co. Thousand Oak Barrel Co. manufac tures barrels to age and serve your spirits. All products offer a variety of options for customizing and branding with your personalized design.

Berlin Packaging

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Blue & Co., LLC

Blue & Co., LLC is an independent accounting and advisory firm with more than 50 years in operation. Our public accounting expertise includes the prac tice areas of assurance, tax compliance and consulting, healthcare consulting, benefit plan services, valuation and liti gation support, and business services.

Briess Malt & Ingredients Co.

Since 1876, we’ve been supplying the highest quality malts in the industry. We’ve distinguished ourselves by developing the most extensive line of specialty malts made by any malting company in the world. We provide everything from malts to pure malt ex tracts, brewers flakes and filtering aids.

BSG Distilling

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Independent Stave Co.

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ISTS makes workplaces safer, employ ees ready and compliance uncompli cated. ISTS has extensive experience working with the spirits industry, so our programs are totally customized to address your site.

Kason Corporation

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Lafitte Cork and Capsule

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Soderstrom Architects

Soderstrom Architects’ Ferar Wine & Spirits Studio has been involved in the design and master planning of more than 70 wineries and distilleries. Our studio was founded nearly 30 years ago with a passion for design that conveys the special sense of place inherent in the site, be it a vineyard or a city block.

Sovos ShipCompliant

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Specific Mechanical Systems

Since 1984, Specific Mechanical Systems has handcrafted brewing and distilling systems for the craft beer and spirits industries, in addition to supplying various industries with com plex processing equipment. Originally a two-person company, the company now employs a team of approximately 100 people.

Ultra Pure Signature Spirits, a division of Ultra Pure, is the leading independent supplier of bulk spirits in the U.S. and has the largest selection of alcohols stocked across its nine warehouses. We supply approximately 1,000 distill eries and brand owners with virtually every type of alcohol.

Whalen Insurance

Whalen Insurance is a second-gen eration insurance agency owned and operated by Peter Whalen. He started a program for craft breweries in the mid 1980s and expanded to craft distilleries almost 10 years ago. It provides all property and liability coverages needed to safely operate a distillery.

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America

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WV Great Barrel Co.

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The American Craft Spirits Association would like to thank all of our annual sponsors and our key supporters of education. We are grateful for all of your support throughout the year. Cheers!

Louisville, Kentucky-based Barrell Craft Spirits introduced Barrell Vantage, a blend of straight bourbons finished in three distinct expressions of virgin oak: Mizunara, French and toasted American oak casks. Barrell Vantage was distilled in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, and then crafted and bottled in Kentucky at cask strength, 114.44 proof.

Seattle-based Copperworks Distilling Co. has released Copperworks Plum Gin, 2021 Harvest. The 72-proof spirit was produced by infusing Copperworks Small Batch Gin and Copperworks Cask Finished Gin with 1,600 pounds of whole Italian Prune Plums from two local family farms.

In August, Hye, Texas-based Garrison Brothers Distillery unveiled the second release of Guadalupe Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey, the newest limited expression in the brand’s portfolio. Named after one of the Lone Star State’s most beautiful rivers, the whiskey is port-cask finished bourbon that is bottled at 107 proof.

Graton, California-based Redwood Empire Whis key expanded its portfo lio with its second release of bottled-in-bond whis keys: Rocket Top Straight Rye Whiskey and Grizzly Beast Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Rocket Top is named for the 365-foot coastal redwood tree, reminiscent of a bottle rocket, in Humboldt Red woods State Park. Grizzly Beast gets its name from two giants: Grizzly Giant, a giant Sequoia in Yo semite National Park, and Mattole Beast, a massive 375-foot coastal redwood in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.


Foundry Distilling Co. of West Des Moines, Iowa, and Surly Brewing Co. of Minneapolis collaborated to create the Axe Man American Malt Whiskey, distilled from the wort of Axe Man IPA beer. Surly brought the beer’s wort to Foundry Distilling, where it was fermented, distilled, and aged for 28 months in new 30-gallon American Oak barrels to produce the 96-proof whiskey.

Newport, Oregon-based Rogue Ales & Spirits is unveiling a new custom bottle for its award-winning American single malt, Dead Guy Whiskey, and expanding the portfolio with the release of new Dead Guy Whiskey expressions—Dead Guy Whiskey Stout Cask Finished (originally Rolling Thunder Stouted Whiskey) and Dead Guy Whiskey Wine Cask Finished (a brand new expression).

Tucson, Arizona-based Whiskey Del Bac released Normandie, a new limited annual expression. The 97-proof spirit is Whiskey Del Bac’s Classic Ameri can Single Malt Whiskey, aged in charred, new American white oak barrels, then finished an ad ditional 13 months in Calvados brandy barrels. The American single malt is named after the coastal region of Normandie (the French spelling), France.

Brooklyn, New Yorkbased Arcane Distilling has released its flag ship whiskey. Arcane Alpha is distilled from a triple IPA loaded with bright, citrusy hops. At 93 proof, this whiskey has the intense aromas of Cascade and Mosaic hops, balanced by light malt notes and a mild oak finish.

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Sauvage Distillery—located in the small hamlet of Charlotteville in Upstate New York—has launched Upstate Vodka, a new label made from 100% New York State apples available in 30 states. Each 80-proof bottle contains 70-80 apples sourced from local New York State farms.Golden, Colorado-based Golden Moon Distillery and Holidaily Brewing Co. have teamed up to unveil the distillery’s first release in its collabora tion series of whiskeys: Golden Moon Collaboration #1 Holidaily HoppedBlonde—ColoradoWhiskey . This 92-proof release is made from Holidaily Brewing’s certified gluten-free Favorite Blonde Ale.

Hilton Head Distillery of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, announced the launch of its Panela Rum. The 114-proof spirit is made from dehydrated sugar cane grown on a third-gener ation family farm in Colombia. The rum is then aged in a mixture of 49-plus port wine casks and bourbon barrels.

Milam & Greene Whiskey is introducing Unabridged Volume 1, a new limited


Cathead Distillery of Jackson, Mississippi, announced the release of three age statements of their award-winning Bristow Gin, including a 1-, 4- and 7-year Barrel Aged Reserve The spirits are aged in brand new American Oak barrels. The distillery also announced Cathead Sparkling Sunsetters, a new line of RTD sparkling vodka sodas. The variety pack features four flavors: Raspberry, Mango, Ginger Pineapple and Cucumber Mint

Manifest Distilling of Jacksonville, Florida, announced the launch of its new line of readyto-drink (RTD) hard seltzers. The lineup includes three flavors, all containing natural ingredients and made with Manifest’s craft spirits: Manifest Classic Daiquiri, Manifest Vodka Mule and Manifest Vodka Spritz. All of the flavors have an ABV below 6%.

Rum Point, a new line of six island-inspired canned cocktails, is now available. Available both in four-packs and a variety pack, these cocktails are made using real cane sugar and are entirely gluten-free. Rum Point has been created and devel oped by the team at Brew Pipeline

In July, DistilleryTalnua of Arvada, Colorado, released its StillAmericanBottled-in-BondSinglePotWhiskey

. The distillery says it is the world’s first bottled-inbond American single pot still whiskey. The 100-proof release was a single barrel pre sented exclusively at the Irish Whiskey Fans of America meetup which was hosted at the distillery.


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American Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Original Spirit

Author: Clay Risen

Publisher: Scott & Nix, Inc.

Release Date: Oct. 3

What is going on with rye whiskey? Suddenly both experienced and new whiskey lovers are turning to rye as their primary object of interest. And just as suddenly the market is flooded with new offerings of this so-called old fashioned spirit—the growth from just a dozen brands 15 years ago to more than 225 today is unprecedented. Author and spirits expert Clay Risen now offers a road map to the phenomena of rye. A de tailed introduction includes a history of rye, how it’s distilled, aged and earns its distinguishing qualities. Sections include info on how to start collecting rye, read a whiskey label, and how to have a whiskey tasting.

Make it a Double: From Wretched to Wondrous: Tales of One Woman’s Lifelong Discovery of Author:Whisky

Shelley Sackier

Publisher: Pegasus Books

Release Date: June 7

Braving the all-boys clubhouse of the world of whisky has not been easy, but Shelley Sackier has managed to do just that out of her love for the drink. By turns funny and poignant and filled with vivid insight into this ancient craft, Make it a Double will persuade even nonwhiskey-fans to want a wee dram.

How to Drink Like a Rock Star: Recipes for the Cocktails and Libations that Inspired 100 Music Legends

Publisher: Apollo Publishers

Release Date: Sept. 27

Pairing history’s 100 greatest rock stars with recipes for their iconic drink of choice, “How to Drink Like a Rock Star” is the perfect guide to summoning the muse for music fans, rock and roll bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts. From AC/DC to ZZ Top, this lavish illustrated follow-up to How to Drink Like a Writer offers 100 spirited drink recipes, fascinating rock star profiles, a special sections dedicated to epic rock clubs to drink, dance, and perform in, and even unusual hangover cures and favorite food pairings, all accompanied by original illustrations of ingredients and finished cocktails, and a wealth of photographs.

The Little Book of Whiskey Cocktails

Author: Bryan Paiement

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky

Release Date: Aug. 23

This book sets out to share the stories of the whiskey-making world and recipes suitable for whiskey enthusiasts of all expertise levels. Bryan Paiement takes a practical approach to exploring the various ways in which the spirit can be mixed and enjoyed. Adorned with a key to whiskey ware and bar tools and an extensive repertoire of jokes, Paiement brings whiskey’s terminol ogy and mixology to any home bar.

Imbiber ’ s Bookshelf


The owners of the formerly named Three Roll Estate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, recently announced a new name: Oxbow Rum Distillery. The family-owned distillery, led by Olivia Stewart, hopes to redefine Louisiana Rum with new rum brands.

The new distillery name comes from the ancient Mississippi River oxbow in Pointe Coupée Parish, where the fertile soil has grown sugarcane for generations. The oxbow is now cut off from the river and is a lake known as False


is a sharp bend in a river and that’s what gave us our fertile soil that we have and how we can grow this amazing sugarcane,” says Stewart, who grew up on the family’s sugarcane farm. “We’re really looking to premiumize rum and have it being respected and positioned alongside bourbon like rum lovers feel it should be.”

On the family farm, multiple generations have crushed sugarcane to make raw sugar since 1859. Today, they make exclusive rums with their own fresh-pressed cane juice and Grade A molasses, two incredibly rare and coveted ingredients.

“The rum category has historically lacked transparency and regulation. Consumers often wonder what’s really in the bottle,” said Stewart. “We want to share our authentic rums with fans seeking a true sipping experience. With Louisiana’s rich history of growing sugarcane, we’d love for the state to become known as America’s rum destination.”

Oxbow Rum Distillery will continue making selected products under its former name for distribution in Louisiana. The renamed distillery now also produces three types of Oxbow Rum:

• Oxbow Small Batch White Rum made from Grade A Molasses, with notes of tropical fruit and smokey finish.

• Oxbow Barrel Aged Straight Rum matured in new American oak barrels for a minimum of two years. The barrel provides rich color and complex fla vor comes from the oak alone, with a finish of plum, chocolate and vanilla.

• Oxbow Rhum Louisiane Cane Juice Agricole bottled only once each year during the fall sugarcane harvest. This special rum is the truest ex pression of the family farm’s terroir, with bright vegetal notes only experi enced in Rhum Louisiane.

“These fine sipping rums embody the essence of Louisiana sugarcane. Unfiltered and distilled in small batches, Oxbow Rum has no sweeteners or additives,” explained Stewart. “You can experience the bright, smooth taste of local sugarcane in every sip.”

The distillery also produces a new small batch spiced rum. False River Spiced Rum is distilled from sugarcane grown on those old riverbanks, then blended with a proprietary spice recipe.


Upon changes in ownership control, distilleries must notify the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) within 30 days or face the consequence of a terminated permit.

That’s clearly stated on a distillery’s permit, and Steve Powers of TTB says the bureau is becoming more astute about the matter.

“If it goes beyond that 30 days,” says Pow ers, “if there’s been a change in control of the business, then the permit terminates by law.”

Powers says a change in control occurs when someone loses or gains 51% of a com pany. That could mean a change in an officer

at a corporation or an official of an LLC. The key change for corporations is with Class A Voting Stocks and for LLCs it is Class A Com mon

TheUnits.preferred method for notification is via TTB’s online permitting account, and Powers says anyone with questions should contact TTB at 877-882-3277 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“AllET.anyone has to do is call us and ask what they need to do if there’s been a change,” he says. “We can guide them [on] what to do. We’re here to help.”—Jon Page

Industry Update


The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) published a notice of proposed rulemaking this summer that would add Amer ican single malt whiskey to the standards of identity for distilled spirits. The proposal follows years of petitions and comments from distillers, the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission (ASMWC) and the American Craft Spirits Association, among others.

“While we’re not yet to the finish line, the [proposed rulemaking] marks a major milestone we’ve been working toward since coming together as the ASMWC in 2016,” said Steve Hawley of Westland Distillery in Seattle, one of the commission’s founders and its president. “We’re closer than ever to having a formal definition for American single malt, something that will benefit distillers and consumers alike, and signal to the world that this emerging category is worth celebrating.”

Gareth Moore, the CEO of Virginia Dis tillery Co. and ASMWC treasurer called the proposed rulemaking a “historic moment for the industry, as it has been decades since a

new whisky category of this magnitude has been added to the Beverage Alcohol Manual. The American whiskey category was synony mous with bourbon just 15 years ago, but the resurgence of rye diversified that view. The American single malt category will further broaden the view of the American whiskey consumer and fuel innovation and premium ization across domestic products.”

In Notice No. 213, Proposed Addition of American Single Malt Whisky to the Stan dards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, pub lished in the Federal Register on July 29, TTB proposed to amend the regulations in 27 CFR part 5 that set forth the standards of identity for distilled spirits to include “American single malt whisky” as a type of whiskey that is a distinctive product of the United States.

Under TTB’s proposal, to be labeled “Ameri can single malt whisky,” the product must be distilled entirely at one U.S. distillery, and must be mashed, distilled, aged in the United States. The product also must be sourced from a fermented mash of 100% malted bar

ley, at a distillation proof of 160° or less, and stored in oak barrels not exceeding 700 liters. In addition, allowable coloring, flavoring, and blending materials would be permitted.



Pittsburgh-based Wigle Whiskey and sister company Threadbare Cider & Mead have entered an agreement to sell to Pittsburgh Spirits, a business under Pittsburgh Pirates owner Bob Nutting. Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed.

In an email to customers, Wigle owners not ed that future growth would require partners with additional resources—financial, human and organizational. And in a press release, Wigle and Threadbare co-founder Meredith Meyer Grelli said that creating and grow ing the companies were the most enriching, challenging and rewarding projects her family could have taken on in the past decade.

“After conducting an exhaustive search for partners who would continue to grow Wigle and Threadbare, we are proud to transition our beloved companies to Pittsburgh Spirits,” said Grelli. “We interviewed prospective partners from across the country and even the world, but it was only when we talked with Pitts burgh Spirits, that we knew we had found the right successors. Our greatest hope was that Wigle and Threadbare would remain family and Western Pennsylvania owned. We know

that Bob (Nutting), his family and the team at Pittsburgh Spirits will be owners devoted to quality, innovation, regional story-telling, and cultivating our team and Wigle and Thread bare’s regional and national footprint.”

Added Nutting: “With every conversation I had with the Meyer-Grelli family I had a deeper appreciation for how much they care about this com pany and the team of great people behind the growing success of these brands. Their pas sion is infectious. We are honored to be selected as the steward of these brands and proud to remain true to what they stand for, an deeplypanyfamily-ownedPittsburgh-based,authenticcomthatcaresaboutthe

product and community.”

In an interview with the Pittsburgh PostGazette, Meyer Grelli said that she and her husband, Alex Grelli, plan to stay with the company at least while Pittsburgh Spirits gets its licensing, which could take several months. “We will stay to be advisers as long as they desire that,” she said.

Industry Update
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The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame returned after a two-year pause and inducted six industry luminaries into its elite ranks during

a ceremony at My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown, Kentucky.

Inductees included two distillery founders,

influential lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, a groundbreaking industry veteran and the acclaimed grandson of a Bourbon baron. The ceremony was paused the past two years due to COVID-19.

Making this year’s event additionally significant, it was the first Hall of Fame ceremony in its 20-year history to include a sitting Kentucky Governor among its tothisGov.ingandthecelebrateceremonyKentuckylovedproducethousandsKentucky“Bourbonguests.isasignatureindustrythatemploysofourpeopletoaproductknownandaroundtheworld.TheBourbonHallofFameisagreatchancetoboththepioneersandinnovatorswhosevisioncraftsmanshipkeepspushbourbontonewheights,”AndyBeshearsaid.“Iamhonoredtotakepartincelebrationandlookforwardseeingwherethenextgen

eration of leaders in this field will take us.”

Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, which founded the Hall of Fame in 2001, congratulated the induct ees in front of a packed crowd of more than 200 Bourbon dignitar ies at the historic landmark.

This year’s inductees are:

- Retiring Rep. D. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown, majority whip, Kentucky House of Representatives: A two-time recipient of the KDA’s “100 Proof” award for public service and champion of several landmark pieces of legislation.

- The late Stephen Francis Thompson, founder and president, Kentucky Artisan Distillery (Lifetime Achievement Award): A former president of Brown-Forman Distilleries and a pioneering resource for craft distilleries across the country.

- Julian P. Van Winkle, III, president, Old Rip Van Winkle Distill ery: The heralded grandson of Bourbon legend Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle, creator of the ultra-aged premium Pappy Van Winkle brand and the very first James Beard winner from Kentucky, as well as numerous other accolades.

- Andrea Marie Wilson, distinguished industry veteran, COO and master of maturation at Michter’s Distillery: In 2009 she became the first woman to chair the KDA Board of Directors.

- Retiring U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, co-founder of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus and Chair of the House Budget Committee: He helped lead a permanent reduction on the federal excise tax on distillers among other key measures.

- Kaveh Zamanian, founder, whiskey maker and CEO, Rabbit Hole Distillery: He left Iran in 1979 during the revolution and founded Rabbit Hole in 2012. He blends the immigrant whiskey maker tradi tion with time-honored methods, diverse perspectives and modern ist aesthetics.



Hood River Distillers (HRD), the Northwest’s oldest and largest importer, distiller, producer,

Gin; as well as the launch of barrel programs for Easy Rider, Trail’s End and McCarthy’s

Industry Update


The next beneficiary of Fast Penny Spirits’ Pretty Penny give-back program will be the STEPUP Foundation. At the end of 2022 Q3, the Seattle-based amaro brand will donate 3% of Amaricano and Amaricano Bianca bottle sales to the organization.

The Pretty Penny give-back was built into Fast Penny’s business plan from the start. With the purpose of impacting the greater good and promoting diversity within the craft beverage industry and community, the partnership with the STEPUP Foundation was a no-brainer.STEPUP’s goal is to provide a comprehen sive internship for those of different races, color, national origins, genders, and sexual orientations in an industry that lacks diversity.

With a living stipend, lodging, airfare and transportation provided, interns are exposed to every facet of the industry at various distilleries across the country, from produc tion to research and development to business management and regulatory/legal compliance. Each distillery gets to share its own unique flare with each intern, whether it be a grain

to glass operation in rural Pennsylvania or an urban distillery in downtown Portland.

“The hands-on experience this internship provides is unprecedented,” says Margie A.S. Lehrman, ACSA CEO and president of the STEPUP Foundation board. Lehrman noted that the foundation took subject matter ex perts in every field to build out the program, to provide each intern with thorough lesson plans. “Fast Penny’s donation will allow us to continue to foster the passion and creativity of under represented individuals who may not have the knowledge on how to enter our industry.”

The board of STEPUP includes notable in dustry names Julie Kinch, former Chief Legal Officer for Heineken USA and David Cid, who played a role in the revamp of the multimillion-dollar BACARDI Rum Brand. Chris Underwood, who currently serves as the CEO of Young’s Holdings and is a member of the Board of Directors of Young’s Holdings, is also a STEPUP Mentor to one of 2022’s interns.

The entire program is volunteer based, with the organization solely relying on donations, so both interns and distilleries can apply with


After celebrating the biggest year in its his tory and welcoming nearly 4,000 industry professionals through its doors in 2022, Bar Convent Brooklyn is excited to announce the dates for its fifth in-person show.

Returning to an expanded space at Brook lyn’s vibrant Industry City, the renowned, international trade event will take place June 13-14, 2023. Industry professionals and prospective exhibitors are invited to save the date ahead of official registration, which is slated to open in the coming months.

This year, Bar Convent Brooklyn broke re cords by introducing 163 exhibitors to nearly 4,000 attendees, who traveled from 55 dif ferent countries across the globe. The event poured more than 300,000 drinks and spirits samples to visitors and traders alike.

Industry City proved to be an upstanding location in 2022, and as such, Bar Convent Brooklyn will return to the thriving creative precinct for a second year—this time, with increased space. Exhibitors and visitors can expect a larger show floor, as well as an additional tasting and demonstration stage, adding 14 additional seminars. Meanwhile, a revised floor-plan will make way for an abun dance of exciting sponsorship and networking opportunities.

“We are overjoyed to be heading back to Industry City next year,” says Jackie Williams, event director for Bar Convent Brooklyn. “2022 was a huge success, with visitor num bers surpassing pre-pandemic, so we can’t wait to return to an even bigger space, with a fresh line-up of new exhibitors.”

out worrying about financial barriers. Donors have included Beam Suntory, Diageo, Young’s Holding, and Leopold Bros.

“I can’t wait until this organization no longer exists, because it means we’ve done our job increasing representation,” adds Lehrman.

Applications are still open for the 2023 cycle of the program, and those interested in internships, becoming a mentor, as well as be ing a host distillery can apply at stepupintern before October 1.

After hosting 37 education sessions across two days, Bar Convent Brooklyn is also thrilled to welcome back Lynnette Marrero as head of education for 2023, with other committee members to be announced later in the year.



The Kentucky Bourbon Benefit auction of rare and signed bottles, private barrel selections and more raised over $1.4 million to help ease suffering and restore hope for Eastern Kentucky residents whose communities were ravaged by historic flooding this summer.

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association part nered with the Bourbon Crusaders charitable organization, Bourbon curator Fred Minnick and Louisville-based Westport Whiskey &

organized drives for supplies and critical needs as well.

To date, their combined monetary and supply donations toward flood relief total more than $275,000, including a $100,000 cash donation from Brown-Forman Corp. and $50,000 each from Beam Suntory, Four Roses and Campari / Wild Turkey.

“Once again, we are humbled and honored by the outpouring of support from the Bour

. “I am so proud of the Bourbon community for its philanthropic heart and how it always shows up for people in need,” he said.

“This Kentucky Bourbon Benefit is a testa ment to every collector and distiller in the Bourbon community. However, I hope we don’t have to do this again, but if we do, the Bourbon community will be there for people in need.”

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If you drink beer at all, especially craft beer, you’re familiar with hazy IPA, also called New England IPA. It’s a luxuriously dry-hopped beer with a low bitterness and enormous aroma, juicy tropical flavors and a concomitant haziness that ranges from faint to opaque.

Hazy IPA is novel. It’s not like any traditional beer, and especially not like other IPAs, so much so that purists are sometimes enraged just by looking at one. It borrows from the IPA idea, but takes parts of it and cranks them up … well, way past 11.

It’s also popular, with both brewers and drinkers. In less than 10 years, it went from being brewed at three small breweries in New England to being the dominant beer style in craft brewing. People who don’t like regular IPA like it, presumably because of the low bitterness. Craft beer drinkers like it for the aroma, and the fun.

So I find myself wondering … where is craft spirits’ hazy IPA?

It’s not rye whiskey, or Amaro or Texas whiskey. Those hew very close to what we have already. This is going to have to step out further. It might be smoked bourbon, it might be Douglas fir gin, it might be bottled-in-bond carrot eau de vie. An old sci-fi book I read was set on a planet that exported melon brandy, and I’d still like to taste that. Maybe someone is making sumac aquavit!

Look, I have no idea what the industry’s hazy IPA will be, and speculating is not my point. I’m not going to know, I rarely know what’s going to be massively popular. I don’t know if there will actually be anything that swiftly dominant. But I’m pretty sure that it’s going to come from the same source as hazy IPA, a very American source: a driven tinkerer.

Hazy IPA came out of three small breweries, all connected to one guy: the late Greg Noonan, a legendary homebrewer who had opened a brewery in Burlington, Vermont. Greg tried a lot of new ideas, went a lot of directions no one else had, and only cared about one thing: Did the beer taste good?

Actually, what he would ask was, did it taste amazing? If it did, that beer was getting made, and he’d let it sell itself. And you know, it usually did okay. I remember enjoying several pints of his smoked porter one visit.

Do you tinker? Do you fiddle around the edges, looking for incremental improvements? Or do you cut away everything but the bare bones of process and think about where you could go if you didn’t follow the well-traveled road and walked off into the woods?

Do you work within the conventional parameters—white oak barrels, juniperforward, tight heart cut, traditional feedstock—or do you buck it sometimes to see what you might be missing? Do you look at the BAM and labeling requirements as a maze, with your goal at the end? Or do you go right to the cheese: Make the spirit, and then force the words until they fit?

Does it matter if your label says Distilled Spirit Specialty rather than Brandy or Rum, or

just Whisky? I say it all the time: Almost every consumer doesn’t see, doesn’t understand, or doesn’t care what the small block caps Standards of Identity labeling says on your label. (Geeks do, but there aren’t that many of us!) What’s more important: That your spirits have the same words on the label as everyone else, or that they taste amazing?!

I know you’re trying to make your spirits great, and it’s a lot of work. You’re buffing up the process, sourcing the best ingredients you can, finding packaging that is worth your

Do you tinker? Do you fiddle around the edges, looking for improvements?incremental Or do you cut away everything but the bare bones of process and think about where you could go if you didn’t follow the well-traveled road and walked off into the woods?
28 | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2022 CRAFTSPIRITSMAG.COM lew ' s bottom shelf

spirits. Absolutely necessary work for your business to keep growing.

But I’ve also been privy to some still-secret innovations that are going to shock people. That’s what makes your business, your distillery, break out.

You should consider following both paths. Tinkering isn’t just goofing around. I found a Peter Drucker quote that nails down why it’s hard work, and by implication, why it’s so important.

“Above all,” Drucker said, “innovation is work rather than genius. It requires

knowledge, it often requires ingenuity, and it requires focus.” If you’re going to do this, you need to be smart, and you need to set aside time and resources to do it right, and to cover the costs of the inevitable failures along the way. I remember a brewer telling me that was part of the high cost of his admittedly amazing specialty bottles: He had to pay for the ones that failed.

Our hazy IPA might already be out there, in a barrel or a bottle. But there’s no reason at all why it can’t be in your head. Start tinkering. ■

Lew Bryson has been Masterand“Tastingissincespiritsaboutwritingbeerandfull-time1995.HetheauthorofWhiskey”“WhiskeyClass.”


In July, hundreds of members of the distilling community gathered in New Orleans to learn, network and celebrate the craft spirits industry at ACSA’s 9th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show. Over the course of dozens of hours of educational sessions, we learned new tips and strategies to help our small businesses thrive. On the trade show floor, attendees explored the latest offerings and products designed for producers of craft spirits. At several on- and off-site events, attendees and exhibitors mingled and made or strengthened

lasting relationships. We also announced the medalists and best of class honorees from our 2022 Judging of Craft Spirits.

After official words of welcome from Ernest P. Legier Jr.—Louisiana’s Commissioner of Alcohol and Tobacco Control—ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman presided over a membership town hall on the first evening of the convention. Attendees heard remarks and updates from Becky Harris (ACSA president from Catoctin Creek Distilling Co.), Gina Holman (ACSA vice president from J. Carver Distillery), Jessica J. Lemmon (ACSA

secretary/treasure of Cart/Horse Distilling), Chris Montana (ACSA past president of Du Nord Social Spirits), Mark Shilling (ACSA past president and chair of government affairs committee), Jim Hyland (ACSA public policy advisor), Colton Weinstein (Corsair Artisan Spirits), Lee Wood (Wood’s High Mountain Distillery) and Rob Masters (The Family Jones), who introduced keynote speaker Matt Vogl (CEO, VXVY Mental Health, Inc.).

In his keynote address titled “Distilling Mental Health & Crafting Support in Vola tile Times,” Vogl shared his own personal

ACSA Affairs

story of attempted suicide and navigating the challenges of accessing support for mental health. Vogl offered practical advice to those experiencing depression and to those who suspect someone close to them may need support.

After the town hall, attendees paraded from the Ernest M. Norial Convention Center to nearby Mardi Gras World for a welcome party with live music and cocktails.

On our trade show floor, exhibitors from around the world displayed their products and discussed their services with craft distillers, distillery employees and distilleries

in planning.Theconvention featured nearly 40 hours of educational sessions in three tracks (technical, sales/marketing and business/ finance) with three difficulty levels (advanced, intermediate and suitable for all). We also hosted a New Distillery Start-Up 101 PreConvention Class, as well as panels for the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission and Women of the Vine & Spirits.

At our ACSA PAC welcome reception at Happy Raptor Distilling on July 22, we raised our glasses to toast our ongoing legislative efforts to strengthen the business climate for

the craft spirits industry. Our guest speaker was Walt Leger, president-elect and current executive vice president and general coun sel at New Orleans & Co. Leger, who also served for 12 years in the Louisiana House of Representatives, discussed the importance of building relationships with local and state elected officials, and he urged distilleries to be a force for good in their communities.

On the final night of the convention, we announced the medalists and Best in Show honoree of our 9th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits, which you can read more about later in this issue.


ACSA gratefully acknowledges the generosity of those who have provided support for our 2022 Distillers’ Conven tion and Vendor Trade Show, including:

ISTILL: Sponsor of tote bags

Image Apparel Solutions: Sponsor of Southernt-shirtsDistilling Co.: Sponsor of bag swag

Stoel Rives LLP: Sponsor of program hand

Reese LLP: Sponsor of lounge area

SPOD: Sponsor of badge wallet

ACSA Affairs


As ACSA approaches our 10th anniversary, we are proud to announce several strategic new hires. The expanded team will help lead us through our next decade of growth and service to the country’s craft spirits community.Wearepleased to announce the addition of Michael Walker as State Policy Advisor. In his new role, Walker will be identifying state legislative issues and liaising with state distillery guilds to develop legislative strategies. Walker joins ACSA’s legislative team with nearly 25 years of experience at the intersection of the public and private sectors, including more than 11 years serving in the legislative and executive branches of government. Most recently, he served for well over a decade with Constellation Brands as VP of its external affairs/public affairs department.“Ilookforward to assisting the ACSA team and their passionate members navigate the dynamic state policy landscape the craft spirits industry operates in, as well as helping the organization accomplish their goals and objectives,” Walker said.

Additionally, Kenneth Brady has been named our full-time Director of Membership and Marketing, responsible for nurturing and growing ACSA’s community of members and sponsors. He’ll also be developing and executing a marketing vision for ACSA. Brady previously served in a part-time capacity as ACSA’s Non-Dues Revenue and Marketing Strategist. He draws upon many years of experience in marketing, branding,

communication/engagement, business development and membership in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, with past roles at associations, technology companies and a chamber of commerce.

“I am gratified to be part of the craft spirits community and will strive to elevate and promote the profession with great passion,” Brady

Alsosaid.joining the team is Stephanie Sadri as Director of Meetings and Events. She is a familiar face within the craft spirits community, as Sadri has managed the logistics of ACSA’s events—including the annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show and Public Policy Conference—for several years as an employee of global meeting planning company Helms Briscoe. Sadri now joins the ACSA staff full time and she will be in charge of all things events, from planning to exhibitor development. This seasoned hospitality and events industry veteran has built her career at venues like Invesco Field—where she worked not only on Denver Broncos events, but on the Democratic National Convention—as well as Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Oxford Hotel and The Curtis Hotel. Sadri is Immediate Past President of Meeting Professionals Internationals (MPI), on whose board of directors she’s served for nine years. She’s also in the Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame and has been awarded Smart Meetings Planner of the Year, and the MPI Rising Star Award.

“I am beyond excited to join the team full time and continue to champion the amazing work that ACSA does for the incredibly

vibrant craft spirits community,” Sadri said. Walker, Brady and Sadri all officially assumed their new roles on Sept. 1.

“ACSA works day-in and day-out to enable craft spirits producers to operate in a business-friendly environment, from manufacturing through sales and distribution,” said ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrmann. “Equally important is engaging all stakeholders, with the goal of bringing together our vibrant community to learn and celebrate our innovation. Adding Michael, Ken, and Stephanie to the team will help fulfill those goals and move us to that next level.”

Finally, it is with mixed emotions that ACSA announces the departure of Carason Lehmann, who served for more than six years with the organization—most recently as Membership & Events Director—and has been instrumental in building ACSA to what it is today. Lehmann is embarking on the next chapter of her distinguished career as a wedding event planner at Soeur Events in Charleston, S.C. Her contributions to the association have been innumerable and Lehmann will be greatly missed by her ACSA colleagues.

“I am so thankful to Margie and ACSA for taking a chance on me six years ago,” Lehmann said. “It is extremely bittersweet to be leaving such an incredible organization, especially the members, who I’ve been able to build connections with throughout the years. I’ve learned a tremendous amount and it has fueled my lifetime love and passion for good hospitality.”

Carason Lehmann Kenneth Brady Michael Walker Stephanie Sadri


In early September, ACSA met with the Food and Drug Administration to discuss the issue of hand sanitizer audits. Previously, we had heard concerns that the FDA notified members about increased levels of acetaldehyde in hand sanitizer produced in 2020. Many members have already spent lots of time (and money) attempting to comply with the request. The FDA acknowledged that additional letters may be sent to producers of hand sanitizer. The FDA also confirmed that these letters are not audits but simply “informational requests.”

If you produced hand sanitizer during the


Just as we wrapped this issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine, ACSA and DISCUS hosted their 2022 Public Policy Conference. To learn more about the conference—which is our industry’s chance to come together and make our voices heard on Capitol Hill—visit for updates.

pandemic and registered your products with the FDA, deregister immediately if you have not already done so. (You are now considered a manufacturer of over-the-counter drugs and more likely to have your hand sanitizer examined. If you continue to produce hand sanitizer, you are considered a manufacturer and must comply with all applicable regulations as a drug manufacturer.)

If you have received or do receive an FDA informational request (while no legal obligation to respond, ACSA suggests that you do so) here is what you should do:

- Provide the date you stopped

manufacturing-Providethe total volume of hand sanitizer (number of gallons)

- Although not required, if your label contained an expiration date, provide that date

- If you have additional information, such as a certificate of analysis (COA), send that to the FDA, too

As ACSA will continue to advocate for distillers with FDA on the impact of these investigations, please let us know if you are impacted by such a request.

For questions or comments, please contact


The STEPUP Foundation is now accepting applications for 2023 interns, mentors, DSPs and wholesalers until Oct. 1.

STEPUP stands for Spirits Training Entrepreneurship Program for Underrepresented Professionals and its mission is to provide 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.

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

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


Do you play a musical instrument? Are you planning to attend ACSA’s 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention & Vendor Trade Show in Portland, Oregon, Feb. 10-12? If you answered yes to both, then we’d love for you to join your fellow musically inclined craft spirits producers for an informal acoustic jam session. You don’t need to be a virtuoso, you just need to own an acoustic instrument and love to improvise with it. And if you don’t play an instrument, but can carry a tune, we’d love to have you sing with the group. If you’re interested, contact membership@ and indicate which instrument you plan to bring or if you’d like to sign up as a vocalist.

There’s no need to be intimidated. It’ll be a low-key, largely impromptu affair whose only goal is fun!




ACSA’s 9th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show in New Orleans was an event not to be missed. Here are some photo highlights by photographer Peter Forest.



In late July, Tales of the Cocktail held its first in-person edition in New Orleans since 2019, offering a platform for many craft brands, both in its many tasting rooms and through its education program. Here’s a visual recap of the 20-year-old gathering of bar professionals from across the country and beyond.

Joe O’Sullivan of Cleer Creek Distillery/Hood River Distillers
DRINKS TO SAVOR FROM ACSA MEMBERS WHAT ’ s Stirring The Copper Club This cocktail from Copperworks Distilling Co. in Seattle features the distillery’s Plum Gin, which was produced by infusing Copperworks Small Batch Gin and Copperworks Cask Finished Gin with 1,600 pounds of whole Italian prune plums from two local family farms. Ingredients 2 ounces Copperworks Plum Gin 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice 3/4 ounce orgeat syrup 2 dashes Angostura Bitters Directions Shake all ingredients and strain into a Collins-style glass filled with ice. Garnish with a bit of grated cinnamon.

Light Jacket

This cocktail from Hardshore Distilling Co. in Portland, Maine, is a nod to those perfect late-August/ early-September days that are hot and bright during the day and crisp and cool as evening nears.

Ingredients ounces Hardshore Original ounce honey thyme syrup ounce pear syrup ounce lemon Juice

Directions all wet ingredients to a mixing glass and stir thoroughly. into glass over a large ice cube and garnish with cinnamon stick, thyme sprig and freshly ground nutmeg.

Vice Presidente

In this play on the 1920s Cuban classic El Presidente, Round Turn Distilling in Biddeford, Maine, adds layers of complexity by splitting the base with Bimini Coconut Gin and pineapple rum. The result, according to the distillery, is like a Martini on a beach vacation—sophistication in flip-flops.

Ingredients 1/2 ounces Bimini Coconut Gin ounce Plantation ounce C. Comoz Blanc Vermouth ounce Pierre Ferrand Curacao


Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain into chilled Nick and Nora glass.

Gin 1/2
Pineapple Rum 1

Route 1 Daiquiri

Three of Strong Spirits in Portland, Maine, adds a northern twist to the Hemingway. The use of a pine simple syrup and velvet falernum highlight the tropical notes and citrus spark of their Brightwater Rum, making this cocktail almost as easy to mix as it is to drink.


2 ounces Brightwater Rum

1/2 ounce velvet falernum

3/4 ounce key lime juice

1/2 ounce fresh squeezed grapefruit juice

1/4 ounce pine syrup

2 dashes ginger bitters


For the pine syrup, bring 1 cup water and 1/2 cup chopped needles (pine and spruce both work) to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup sugar until dissolved. Let sit overnight or until cool. Strain out the needles. Combine all ingredients and ice in a shaker. Shake and double strain into a coupe. Garnish with a lime wheel or twist.

Maine Breeze

This cocktail from Sweetgrass Farm Winery & Distillery in Union, Maine, has simple ingredients while offering a sophis ticated flavor profile. The combination of Sweetgrass’ Back River Gin and limeade sweetened with buckwheat honey delivers the tastes of the salty sea, rugged coastline and wild blueberry lands.


2 ounces Back River Gin

4 to 6 ounces limeade

2 lime wheels for garnish


For the limeade, stir together 2 cups water, 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice and 5 tablespoons of buckwheat honey until honey is dissolved. For the cocktail, fill a highball glass with ice, add gin, top with limeade and gently swirl. Garnish with lime wheels.

Wiggly WigglyBourbonBridgeSlideBridgeDistillery of York, Maine, calls this an espresso martini for bourbon lovers. The cold brew coffee in this recipe features coffee beans from nearby Anthony’s Small Batch Roasters that are aged in Wiggly Bridge bourbon barrels before roasting. Ingredients 2 ounces Wiggly Bridge Small Batch Bourbon 2 ounces bourbon barrel-aged cold brew coffee 1 ounce half and half 1/2 ounce agave syrup Directions Add all ingredients into a tumbler with ice and shake. Double strain into a coupe glass and garnish with ground coffee.
Lee and Melissa Katrincic co-founded Durham Distillery in 2013.


American consumers are ready for the complex variety within the juniper spirit category. They just need some sectors of retail to catch up.

Traveling through Europe often gives me retail envy. In many coun tries, the selection and diversity of gins on shelves can be stagger ing—everything from classic London Dry and Old Tom to citrus-forward, umami-accented,

terroir-centric, barrel rested and those natu rally tinted in hues of blue, pink or purple. And that’s just in the duty-free shops, not exactly known as bastions of spirits variety (they need to save a lot of room for fancy perfume and Toblerones).

Then, go to an overseas trade fair or festival, like Bar Convent Berlin or London’s Junipalooza gin tasting event, and you’ll find a much more vast selection of juniper spirits waiting in the wings for their moment on the shelf.

Meanwhile, an ever-growing number of


American craft producers are breaking as much new ground in the gin space as their international counterparts and bringing renewed excitement to the category. But you wouldn’t know it if you looked at the shelves of the average (non-control-state) retail shop.

Melissa Katrincic has a few thoughts about that.

“I am of the mind that the biggest hurdle to gin’s growth is the retail buyer,” says Katrincic. “It is not the consumer, it is that retailer. The gin shelf set right now is not growing.”

Katrincic co-founded Durham Distillery in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, Lee, in 2013 and leads the operation as CEO and president. Durham is known worldwide for Conniption Gin, whose product line includes the flagship American Dry, Navy Strength, Barrel Aged and, its newest addition, Kinship, which gets its indigo hue from the infusion of butterfly pea flowers.

And just to be clear, she’s talking off-prem ise. On-premise establishments, especially of the craft cocktail ilk, have fully embraced the spirit, with mixologists building complex and innovative recipes around the juniper spirit. The problem is, as she sees it, it’s very difficult for a consumer to find a bottle of that new gin their favorite bartender turned them on to because the off-premise is so out of sync with theLaston.

year, gin volume grew by 56.5% in the on-premise, but fell by 6% in off-premise venues, according to IWSR. The most signifi cant growth was in the premium-and-above tiers, which surged nearly 10%, while the standard and value segments dropped 5%. At the highest of the tiers, the super-premium segment, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States reports volume growth of nearly 122%—though that segment represents less than 6% of all U.S. gin volume.

“Most of your consumers do trial in gin at an on-premise establishment,” Katrincic explains. “The brand name of the gin is so critical in a menu listing because that’s when we know that they have recall on the brand when they go to the retailer. That’s also when the bartender is showing off her or his or their expertise, leveraging the botanicals in the gin that they have chosen.”

Those same bartenders also happen to be consumers and when they’re off-duty, they’re often searching the off-premise for new gin brands with which to experiment. And the relative lack of choices off-premise can indi rectly hinder such creativity.

“I’d say [off-premise] retailers are behind the consumer and even more so behind the

bartender and on-premise exploration curve,” Katrincic offers. “When you’re a craft cocktail bartender and you’re going to go to the gin shelf and look for new gins, all you’re going to see are imports as new because the U.S. gins aren’t getting on the shelf.”

That lack of visibility ultimately informs the dynamic of the craft gin market in the U.S.

“There just isn’t anywhere that any single person is getting a full picture,” she adds, “and they’re certainly not getting it at the retail shelf. Some of the online retailers are doing a better job, but it’s still a work in progress.”

matches the vibrancy that lives within cocktail culture,” says Christiansen.

But he’s not throwing shade at gin and tonics. “I love gin and tonics, but there’s so much more to gin,” he says. “And retailers are beginning to see that, but no matter what, gin is going to be pushing up against the vodka shelf.”

He’s also got no beef with vodka—quite the contrary. Caledonia’s Barr Hill Vodka has won many awards and gained quite a follow ing for its striking complexity, thanks largely to the raw material from which it’s distilled: honey. It’s also one of only two botanicals— the other being juniper, of course—that flavor Barr Hill Gin.

“We make vodka because we love the vodka we make,” Christiansen says. “Raw honey is one of the few sugars that can actu ally travel through distillation. Only 5% of what actually is in vodka is what you taste and smell, 95% of it is ethanol. So what’s in that 5% really matters.”

Barr Hill Vodka is distilled only twice for that reason—to ensure that the honey reveals itself in the final product.

Even though Christiansen actively plays in both categories, it’s not lost on him that gin’s presence on off-premise shelves is dispro portionately smaller than that of vodka. And it has little to do with the fact that vodka is the largest category, by volume, in the U.S. market, and that gin is less than a seventh of its size. “There’s a lot of brand loyalty in vodka and a lot of marketing dollars, probably, in some way protecting [vodka’s] shelf space,” he suggests. “It’s a bit of a David-versus-Goliath fight and pretty unlikely odds that gin makes a lot of headway quickly.”

Consumers, he asserts, walk into a liquor store, head for the vodka aisle and see an “incredibly long row of the very same product with a different label on. They’re typically sold on the brand or the design of the bottle and not on the liquid inside it. “

Not to mention, the country still has a long way to go on the direct-to-consumer (DtC) front.

Part of the reason for the limited variety in off-premise establishments is that the shelves are designed more for simple drink prepara tion than it is for more complex cocktail craft ing, argues Ryan Christiansen, president and head distiller at Montpelier, Vermont-based Caledonia Spirits, maker of honey-forward Barr Hill Gin.

“Gin, I think, is overlooked,” says Christiansen. “I think the retail set matches the gin and tonic consumer more than it

Gin theoretically could take some of the space vodka enjoys without really harm ing consumer choice in the latter category. Christiansen believes few would even notice.

“Ideally, we’d set that boundary differently, and you could take 20% of the vodka aisle and still have it be 100% as interesting a se lection as what you have today,” Christiansen notes. “And it’d free up a lot of space for some greatButgins.”according to Ryan Lee, senior market analyst at IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, that’s not so likely to happen any time soon.

“Vodka is the most obvious competitor to
“I am of the mind that the biggest hurdle to gin’s growth is the retail buyer. It is not the consumer, it is that retailer. The gin shelf set right now is not of—Melissagrowing.”KatrincicDurhamDistillery
Ryan Christiansen of Caledonia Spirits

gin, as they are both light, versatile spir its that are featured either in refreshing spritzes or more pungent martinis,” Lee says.

“However, vodka is much more neutral and therefore versatile in cocktails, leading it to be a clear winner within the overall cocktail experience. That being said, decreased shelf space is not expected for the vodka category, whereas space may be reduced for categories in decline, such as rum and/or certain flavored spirits [or] liqueurs segments.”

You can’t lay all the blame on multinational vodka brands, as they aren’t the only spirits getting in the way of gin’s potential retail ex pansion. While gin is so embedded in cocktail culture and bar teams are having a lot of fun innovating around it, they’re doing the same— and in some cases, to a greater extent—with agave spirits. And off-premise retailers, Katrincic observes, appear to be more attuned to that “Whattrend.[retailers] have decided to do is actually now have a lot of mezcals and tequilas start to take share from gin, which has been very frustrating for us to see in the last six months,” she says. “I will remove North Carolina from that, North Carolina being a control state that has shelf sets that don’t al ter very much. But I’m seeing this much more in, say, Florida, New York, Jersey and Georgia.”

She’s referring, in large part, to mainstream

retailers and not, say, specialty shops that have become destinations for an enthusiastic stable of spirits-savvy shoppers. And right now, specialty venues can offer the best opportunity for small producers to expand offpremise sales.

One such retailer is Julio’s Liquors in Westborough, Massachusetts, which has gained a loyal following of in-the-know drink ers. Owner Ryan Maloney says he carries more than 100 different gins—stocked on an aisle that’s 50% gin and 50% tequila. “They’re about equal now, even though tequila is super hot,” Maloney says.

The selection of international gins, sepa rated by country of origin, includes plenty of offerings from small American producers, with a strong emphasis on local. Though simply

making a botanical spirit in the store’s home market isn’t enough to get on its shelves.

“We [carry] local guys that are doing stuff that isn’t just a run-of-the-mill, out-while-ourwhiskey-is-aging type thing. We go with a lot of people that actually want to be in the gin category, rather than [those] in a producingfor-cash-flow situation.”

That’s because the gin drinkers who shop at Julio’s are a discerning lot.

“We have people who get just as geeky about gin as they do about any other special ized category,” he reveals. “For a lot of whiskey drinkers, when they’re not drinking brown goods, gin is their go-to—even barrel-aged gins have a niche following too.”

Alas, most shops’ consumer bases aren’t the Julio’s consumer base, but there have

“I think the retail set matches the gin and tonic consumer more than it matches the vibrancy that lives within cocktail culture.” —Ryan Christiansen of Caledonia Spirits

been some developments over the past couple of years that could help gin change its trajectory across the broader retail landscape. The first, believe it or not, is thanks to covid.

The pandemic kept consumers indoors for the better part of 2020 (and a not-insignif icant chunk of 2021 for many). Consumers realized pretty quickly that if they wanted to enjoy their favorite cocktails—and, perhaps, discover some new ones—they were going to have to learn to mix the drinks themselves.

“I think the pandemic jumpstarted some [cocktail education],” Christiansen says. “I think that folks who had a real appreciation for cocktail culture finally said, ‘Alright, time to roll up the sleeves and make cocktails. … Historically, gin [has been] at the epicenter of cocktail culture.”

The other major development was the establishment of the U.S. Gin Association, which the Katrincics spearheaded and of ficially launched in the summer of 2021. The stated mission of the fledgling association,

which specifically focuses on craft distilleries and small, independent producers, is “to cel ebrate the passion for and innovation within this growing category through education and share the wonderful new things U.S. gin distillers bring to the market each year.” [See sidebar on page 49.] And much of that educa tion and awareness-building will be targeted toward the However,off-premise.MelissaKatrincic is well aware of the challenges that lie ahead as far as educat ing retailers is concerned.

“There is an assumption when we walk in to pitch our gin to a retailer that imports, gin imports have more—I wouldn’t say ‘affin ity’ by the consumer but are seen as more ‘legitimate,’ and I think it goes back to this misunderstanding,” she explains. “Everyone realizes now … that bourbon isn’t something that is locale-specific to Kentucky. We still combat that with consumers and buyers that don’t necessarily understand that.”

And that is happening, possibly to a

greater extent, with gin, especially when the dominant style has the name of the United Kingdom’s capital city in it.

“There are still a lot of consumers who think that it can only be made in the U.K., or that, by and large, most gins—if they’re ‘legitimate’ gins—are coming out of Europe,” Katrincic says. “Premiumization within the gin category, just isn’t being seen by the consumer or the [retail] buyer to be at the level that we think, as a U.S. gin association, that we have to reach. We have to be able to train them.”

There’s also the personal history hurdle to overcome. Gin often gets an unfair rap because of less-than-stellar past experiences consum ers may remember having with the spirit in the earliest of their legal drinking years.

“It can be polarizing,” says Christiansen. “There are a fair number of people who say 'I don’t drink gin because gin tastes like'—insert descriptive word here.”

Changing such perceptions is really just a matter of getting the right gins in front of

drinkers at a retail tasting event.

Julio’s is constantly winning over new gin drinkers that way. Gins often make guest appearances during the store’s Whiskey Wednesday tastings. It’s a great way to get the whiskey devout to explore beyond their comfort category. Julio’s also hosts an annual Gin Rummy Festival on the day before Father’s Day, enhancing consumers’ exposure to both juniper and cane/molasses spirits. Julio’s also partners with producers to help them promote their own initiatives. The retailer was actively involved with fellow New Englander Barr Hill’s Bee’s Knees Week, with a point-of-sale display and a signal boost in Julio’s newsletter.

“It’s very much a liquid-on-lips endeavor,” notes Maloney. “For us, education and [get ting] liquid on lips are imperative.”

Covid may have gotten more people to explore and mix at home, but it also killed in-store tastings nationwide for quite a while, truncating the list of new brands to which many consumers could gain exposure. Fortunately, those events have since returned.

“When people try [gin], especially people who’ve had an adverse reaction to gin—and there are a lot of those—they’re really sur prised with it,” says Nate Randall, co-founder, with wife, Bonnie, of Hinterhaus Distilling in Arnold, California. “And it opens their mind to the varieties of gin that there can be.”

Hinterhaus vapor-infuses botanicals na tive to the Sierra Nevada region—including elderflower, rose hips, gooseberry and ginger root—in the distilled California wine base that it uses for its vodka. That combination piques the interest of curious consumers and gets them to try the gin. Randall also credits the packaging design, as well as the support of a distributor with a hyper-local focus that often gets the distillery its own end cap placement. Additionally, the home market attracts a lot of tourism and, he says, folks are a little more willing to pay a higher price point because it’s “vacation money.”

“I think it’s a little like how a band gets famous,” Randall says of growing a gin brand. “It’s not overnight, they’re usually toiling at little club after little club. I feel it’s a similar thing, one patron at a time.”

The good news is that those patrons— whether they’re spending vacation money or shopping near home—are more open to new gustatory experiences. Tastebuds, after all, have evolved and continue to do so.

“Broadly speaking, consumer tastes in the U.S. had historically swayed towards sweeter options, though taste appears to be evolv ing towards more bitter flavor profiles,” says

The U.S. Gin Association

The U.S. Gin Association recently marked the first full year since its inception, but it’s only just getting started. It will be the next 12 to 18 months that will define its future and determine the trajectory for its membership of America’s small gin producers. “First and foremost, it really comes down to the organization of our society,” says Melissa Katrincic, co-founder, president and CEO of Durham Distillery, the founding member of the new association, which announced its formation in the summer of 2021.

The group’s charter members gathered at ACSA’s convention in Louisville last December to reach a consensus on an overall mission, as well as a formal structure for the new“Theorganization.agreement in the room was that we were going to go forward with making the organization official so it could also accept dues, so that we could fund some of the initia tives that we’d all like to collectively accomplish,” Katrincic says. “The issue at hand is that we cannot accept dues until we figure out the association structure.”

Once all of the legal filing is complete and the group formally establishes itself as a dues-based association, it hopes to determine a set of standards that would help con sumers identify member products.

“So [it might be] collateral when a consumer’s at a retail shelf, to let them know that it’s a U.S. Gin Association gin—be it shelf talkers or something on the bottle that gives [the product] that indicator,” Katrincic explains. “It would also allow us to have shelf talkers or collateral pieces that people can integrate into their marketing materials, explaining the mission and vision of the association.”

The organization also is conducting a survey to gauge gin producers’ pain points and priorities.Inaddition to Durham Distillery, charter members of the U.S. Gin Association include Black Button Distilling (New York), Caledonia Spirits/Barr Hill (Vermont), Freeland Spirits (Oregon), Gray Whale Gin (California), Golden Moon Distillery (Colorado), Philadelphia Distilling (Pennsylvania), Brandywine Branch Distillers/The Revivalist Gin (Pennsylvania) and Watershed Distillery (Ohio).

IWSR’s Lee, noting that juniper and other gin botanicals fit that profile.

Bitterness, of course, is only a small com ponent of the American palate renaissance. Mostly, it’s been about the discovery of flavor— bigger, bolder ones—in general. That’s part of the reason why gin should be able to wrest some of that (non-craft) vodka shelf space.

“We’ve had 50 or 60 years of incredible marketing that’s convinced us to drink things that are flavorless, odorless and neutral,” Christiansen says, “but eventually our palate was going to convince us otherwise.”

Still, any gains that gin is likely to make in the near-term are likely to be incremental. IWSR forecasts that gin volume will grow at around 1% through 2026, with most of the increase coming from the above-premium segments. Naturally, craft will benefit greatly from continued premiumization, but the high-volume mega-brands won’t be yielding much of their space any time soon. And it’ll be a bit longer before the shelf sets start to reflect the true stylistic diversity that exists

within the category.

“[Those styles are] well understood outside the United States, [but] they’re not well understood here at all,” notes Katrincic. “Internationally, when we compete—and we compete every year in the World Gin Awards—we have to select which category of gin we are entering. … That level of sophis tication of the gin category, and how many varieties of gin are being made—we have to get to that point.”

Once again, she says, it all comes down to retailer

“Untileducation.Icanhave a gin consumer, someone who’s exploring the gin category, go into a store, get in front of the gin shelf and see those categories, understand them and see the setup where it’s not all Hendrick’s taking 10 to 12 wide—and they do—on a gin shelf, that for us is going to be our number-one priority,” Katrincic says. “I don’t see us gaining ground until we figure out the relationship and the education side for the retailer.” ■



The competition’s top honor went to a bourbon from Starlight Distillery, which is part of the Huber family’s property that includes a farm, winery and more. Distillers Christian and Blake Huber are seventh-generation Hubers, and they accepted the awards for Best of Whiskey and Best in Show at the awards presentation.

“So many distillers in the room that evening were mentors of ours,” says Blake. “Our goal is to make the best whiskey of each day and that’s no easy task. As a distiller, we encounter many variables each day. But knowing that our Carl T. Single Barrel was recognized as the best amongst all of the other outstanding brands reassures me that all of the focus, energy, hard work and attention to detail is exactly the foundation which we should continue to buildChristianupon.” says collaboration is what helps Starlight’s whiskey stand out. “Many minds and palates weigh in on the final profile,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot from members of ACSA throughout the years and the input from this group continues to inspire me as I grow in my profession as a distiller.”

High Marks

Exploring the best in class honorees from the 2022 Judging of Craft Spirits

This July, the American Craft Spirits Association announced the medalists and Best in Show honoree of its 9th Annual Judg ing of Craft Spirits, which were honored during an in-person awards dinner and banquet during its Annual Distillers’ Con vention and Vendor Trade Show in New Orleans. Medalists were hand-selected among a pool just shy of 450 entrants.

During the event, ACSA proudly bestowed the evening’s ultimate honor, the Best in Show award, to Starlight Winery & Distillery of Borden, Indiana, for its Carl T. Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey.

This year, entries were submitted from 37 states and Washington, D.C., in seven main categories: brandy, distilled specialty spirits, gin, ready to drink (RTD), rum, vodka and grain spirits, and whiskey. In addition to Best in Show, Best of Class, and Innovation distinctions, the judging panel awarded 15 gold, 104 silver and 159 bronze medals.

The 2022 Best of Class distinctions, the highest honor in each of the seven judging categories, were awarded to a mix of both established, award-winning distilleries and younger newcomers. Winning distilleries also receive hand-carved barrel heads courtesy of Thousand Oaks Barrel Co. ACSA would also like to thank its judging competition sponsor, Glencairn.

The 9th Annual American Craft Spirits Competition was judged on April 5-6 at High Wire Distilling Co. in Charleston, South Carolina. Colton Weinstein and Jeff Wuslich served as judging co-chairs.

Spirits were judged by a panel of 30 judges, including Alexander Kong, Amy Zavatto, Caley Shoemaker, Chris Schmid, Dwayne Bershaw, Eboni Major, Gary Spedding, Jackie Summers, Jake Tennenbaum, Jason Zeno, Jeanetta McCarthy, Joel Soucy, Johnny Caldwell, Jose Chao, Kristen Wemer, Lisa Laird Dunn, Liz Rhoades, Margarett Waterbury, Miguel Buencamino, Monica Wolf, Monique Houston, Nicole E. Shriner, Phillip Morgan, Neal Bodenheimer, Roderick

Groetzinger, Serge P Lozach, Stinson Carter, Taneka Reaves, Tiffanie Barriere, and Will Hoekenga.

ACSA works rigorously to develop and fine-tune its methodology in order to ensure it continues to be one of the most valuable judging competitions in the industry. ACSA works to create a scoring card that generates meaningful, detailed feedback for entrants. Spirits were scored on appearance, aroma intensity, aroma complexity, palate concentration, palate complexity, body, character and nature of alcohol, texture and finish. Finally, each judge was asked if they would pour the spirit for a peer. Prior to the tasting panels, judges participated in a palate calibration seminar led by Weinstein and Wuslich, to bring a more narrowed focus to the tasting approach. This calibration seminar helped to ensure that scores across all judges and panels fell close to one another.

Scoring and Medal Criteria

The scoring of spirits was based on a 100-point system, with spirits judged on the overall, cohesive impression of the spirit. Spirits were then assigned a medal based on the average score determined by the following benchmarks: 70-79 = bronze; 80-89 = silver; 90-100 = gold.

Best of Class / Best in Show

The top awarded spirits were selected based upon their numerical score with the highest scores earning Best of Class and Best in Show distinction.


Versions of this bright red, 30-proof liqueur date back hundreds of years. Made with Moroccan hibiscus blended with Brazilian clove, Indonesian cassia and Nigerian ginger, it’s a modern twist on a timelessFounderclassic.Jackie Summers says that the Innovation Award acknowledges “all of the sacrifices and examples set by my ances tors, to recognize all it took to arrive at this place in time. Sorel is the culmination of perseverance, our temerity, our joy.”

He adds that “what’s interesting from a cultural perspective about Sorel is, for hundreds of years, the beverage which became Sorel was largely obscure, outside of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. As the first legal Black distiller, post Prohibition, to see Sorel’s embrace, both critically and from consumers across various consumer demographics, is incredibly validating.”



To make this 80-proof brandy, Wigle hand-pits thousands of local peaches from a Pennsylvania farm. They’re fermented with a specialty wine yeast over the course of five days before aging it in a freshly dumped bourbon barrel for a minimum of two years. The result delivers prominent notes of ripe peach, honey, raisin and subtle vanilla and brown sugar notes added from the bourbon barrel.


According to Wigle, its Amaro Vermut is a regional twist on a traditional vermouth. The distillery finished the copper-potdistilled spirit with apple cider rather than sweet wine. It is infused with wormwood, cacao nibs, cinnamon and cloves.

The distillery took home 28 medals from the“Wecompetition.aresoproud of how our tireless, ever-curious production team continues to innovate and represent the City of Champions in the world of spirits,” says Michael Foglia, Wigle’s director of production. “We could not be more thrilled to bring these awards and a heap of medals that span our product portfolio back home.”


This 84-proof gin is a blend of citrus, herbal, floral and spice notes. It derives its balance of juniper flavor from the use of juniper in two areas of the production. First, the distillery completes a juniper maceration in the boiler followed by a vapor infusion of the entire botanical bill during distillation. Citrus gives way to a floral and raspberry note that transi tions to a peppery finish. “Our mission at Lawrenceville Distilling Co. has always been about making quality spirits and sharing our love of the art of distilling with as many people as possible,” said Jo seph DeGroot, co-owner of Lawrenceville. “Winning this award is an amazing honor and we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the ACSA and to be recognized by the leaders of this industry.”




This 10% ABV ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail is one of Pilot House’s four core canned cocktails.“What makes the Mary unique is that we use our very own mild Bloody Knuckles Bloody Mary mix, our freshly infused Bar Pilot Jalapeno Lime vodka, and it was the very first canned cocktail in Oregon,” says Christina Cary, Pilot House’s operations and marketing manager. “Kudos to [co-founder] Larry [Cary] for fighting the laws to make canned cocktails a thing in Oregon, which is why this is such a great honor. We are so proud of the Astoria Mary!”



Three Roll Estate (now Oxbow Rum Distillery) is in the heart of Louisiana’s fertile delta, and its sugarcane farm and mill have been a part of the family for generations.This80-proof rum is made with 100% Grade A molasses, and chief operating officer Olivia Stewart says it is one of the only rums able to use that rare, highquality ingredient. It is bottled as it leaves the still, untouched by oak and unaltered by“ an absolute honor for my team and I to accept this award for our White Rum,” says Stewart. “We pour our hearts into everything we do, and for our base spirit to receive such high accolades really shows that.”



This 86-proof vodka is distilled from grain and sweet potatoes grown on a fourthgeneration, family farm. “What makes it so special is that the Sweet Blend recipe was crafted by a fifth-generation family member and head distiller, Thomas Williams,” says Harvey Williams, Delta Dirt co-founder and CEO.

Taking the honor for Best of Vodka and Grain Spirits evoked memories of Harvey’s first ACSA convention in 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. “Never had I been exposed to so many people who were in love with their craft,” says Harvey. “I was literally blown away by their conversations and genuine willingness to help anyone who wanted to join the adventure. So five years later, to have our vodka be judged as the best by the best is nothing short of remarkable.”

St. Louis-based StilL 630 celebrates 10 years of craft distilling BY JON PAGE
member spotlight SpiritsIndomitable

Afew minutes into a conversation with David Weglarz, a few things areTheclear.owner and head distiller of StilL 630 in St. Louis is sarcastic and quick to tell a joke. But most of all, he is introspective and passionate about his calling as a distiller, which came after a career in finance.

“It’s up to you to be the author of your own story, and I choose to believe that you need to be the hero of your own story, too,” says Weglarz. “When things go bad or poorly, what does the hero do? The hero picks himself up, dusts himself off and tries again and again, and never fails until they have succeeded.”

That line of thinking has served Weglarz well in the creation of his distillery, which cel ebrated its 10th anniversary this June. Initially conceived as a rum and whiskey distillery, StilL 630 also produces a lineup of gins, brandy and an ongoing list of experimental spirits—all of which Weglarz refers to affectionately as indomitable spirits.

The distillery recently announced the final three spirits of an ambitious project it started

in 2017, to release a new spirit each month for five years. Those final three spirits are a group of peated whiskeys, but the series has includ ed spirits of nearly every category but vodka, and some of the distillery’s year-round and seasonal products started in that program. Each Friday, the distillery offered free pours of each experimental spirits and featured a new cocktail for each spirit.

Weglarz says the response from customers has been overwhelmingly helpful. And al though he says StilL 630 will take a break from experimental projects for the rest of 2022, he plans to bring it back in the new year. He says the program allows for excellent engage ment with customers and honest feedback he wouldn’t receive from family or friends.

“When you ask for honest feedback from strangers or customers who know you, who know that you can put out good stuff and they’ll tell you [what they really think], now I can really take a little bit of belief in that feed back,” says Weglarz. “I can trust your criticism when I know you’re willing to tell me if it’s not good or it is great. If you give me both, I can

“It’s up to you to be the author of your own story, and I choose to believe that you need to be the hero of your own story, too.”
—David Weglarz of StilL 630
Andrew Spaugh and David Weglarz As part of its experimental series, StilL 630 released a new spirit each month for five years.

believe you. If everything’s great, I have to take that with a shaker of salt.”

Before the experimental series began, one of those customers giving feedback was Andrew Spaugh, who eventually became StilL 630’s second full-time employee. Weglarz’s wife, Sidni, and Andrea Bolt are also crucial part-time“Andrewemployees.isabsolutely my right hand man,” says Weglarz. “Without him, StilL 630 doesn’t exist like Whiskeythis.”initially led Spaugh to StilL 630’s doors and he was initially skeptical when Weglarz said he wanted to start making gin. But now, Spaugh says that one of the highlights at the distillery is the gin botani cal“Ilibrary.thinkit’s something that nobody else has really done, where we’ve distilled 400 different individual botanicals and then went through and tasted every single botanical,” says Spaugh. “Juniper by itself. Coriander by itself. Some flower petals from the park across the street from my house that I picked on my morning walk. We went through and tasted all

of those at 80 proof, 100 proof and 120 proof, and just being able to wrap your mind around these different botanicals and these nuances that they get as they change proof.”

Speaking of superlatives, StilL 630 may be the only distillery housed inside a former Hardee’s fast food restaurant. Weglarz likes to joke that it’s an old gourmet French restau rant. “I don’t speak French, but I believe it was pronounced ‘Har-days,’” he says. “And the fries were French.”

Despite the changes Weglarz had to make to the building to make it work for a distillery, it’s hard to beat the location. The distillery is blocks away from Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, and one mile from the Gateway Arch, which is notably 630 feet tall.

But that’s not the only Easter egg hiding within the name StilL 630. Weglarz says the distillery was named after its first still, which had 630 in the serial number. “That gave us the opportunity to capitalize the last L and emphasize STL. So sometimes in our name and our marketing, those are red or blue for our local sports teams to hammer home St.

Louis. It also carves out the i and the l in there that also reflects Illinois, which is the other half of our region right across the river in our localAndarea.”totop it all off, the distillery was founded on June 30: 6/30.

“We have a big anniversary party every year on 630 Day,” says Weglarz. “It’s not a national holiday yet. It’s just a kickass party right now. … We release new spirits, [we have] awesome local chefs. It’s really our way to celebrate all the different collaborations we do across different industries. And it’s growing. We have 500 people here a year, which is huge for us.”

In the near future, Weglarz is excited to release StilL 630’s first 10-year-old whiskey this October. And in the distant future, he’s hopeful some or one of his three children will take interest in the family business.

“It is a tiny, hardworking little group here, and my family owns this place,” he says. “I hope, let’s fast forward 50 years from now, we’re a big distillery, that’s got a hundred em ployees and we’re in different countries.” ■



Craft distillers in Maine embrace tradition and innovation. BY JOHN HOLL

Visitors to Maine are often struck by its natural beauty. From the coastline to the mountains and dense forest, the state is a powerful and unique place that can help ground the soul.

For those who live and work in Maine there is a sense of pride that comes with the locale, a heartiness to ensure tough weather condi tions and relative remoteness, and a can-do spirit where hard work leads to success and satisfaction. This is especially true in the craft distilling industry, which has grown in recent years and relies on history and tradition along with flavor and

“Bootstrappinginnovation.isbaked into our DNA,” says Dave McConnell, the co-founder of Three of Strong Spirits in Portland.

The same is true with rum, the spirit that several distillers have embraced, citing the state’s pre-Prohibition production history.

That rum comes from cane sugar juice, not molasses, and is enjoying a bit of a renais sance throughout the state.

“Portland is a great and amazing city and has a very small but cosmopolitan downtown. But when you go down coast, up north and in land you’re going to find some really incredible products being made,” says Jordan Milne, the

founder and distiller of Hardshore Distilling Co. in Portland. He notes that he gravitated towards distilling in order to make the best gin for the Negronis he is fond of drinking.

There is, of course, variety in the bottles among the craft distillers.

“Everywhere you look there is innovation happening,” says Ned Wight, the owner and distiller of New England Distilling Co. in Portland. “There is oat whiskey, scotch, cordials, coffee brandy, you name it. Not ev eryone is making rum or bourbon, but if they are they are making it their own way. This is a production state where people are thoughtful withMilne,process.”whois also the vice president of the state’s distillery guild says that the innovation has also led to some spirits that are made with local ingredients including distilled birch beer, seaweed liquors and maple spirits.

Those draw a deeper connection to a sense of Whereplace. some states might not give care ful thought to its craft distilling industry, Constance Bodine of Sweetgrass Farm Winery & Distillery in Union, says distillers have friends in the capitol.

“Maine is a small state with a population

just over 1.3 million which affords us an ap proachable government with a regulatory environment that welcomes input—our voices are heard,” she says.

There are some drawbacks to location, says Dave Wood of Wiggly Bridge Distillery in York. “Maine is not high on the list for a lot of shipping lanes,” he says, which can make it difficult to get raw materials or to send product out.

Jeff Johnson, CEO of Portland-based Stroudwater Distillery and CEO and founder of Northstar Brands, which makes Vespertino Tequila Crema, agrees. Shipments from Mexico for raw ingredients can be a challenge, and the same is true with building a nationally distributed brand. Still, distillers say a sense of place and support keep them in Maine.

“The reputation of Maine is quality and craft and that is certainly true with our spirits and that helps in outside markets,” Johnson says.That remoteness has been an opportunity for others who have worked with regional farmers for grain and other ingredients.

This has also instilled a sense in other dis tillers to keep the spirits close to home, even if they are exporting to other states.

Jordan Milne, Tristan Walden and Evan Williams of Hardshore Distilling Co. Wiggly Bridge Distillery was started by father and son David and David Woods.

“Our core is always going to be our local market,” says Darren Case of Round Turn Distilling in Biddeford. “We’re extremely fortunate to be in a state that is so supportive of what we do. We have the benefit of a core market here to sustain us.”

As the craft spirits industry in the state has grown, many distillers are quick to point out that local consumer acceptance, along with tourism interest, has come on the backs of the successful craft beer industry. Breweries

like Allagash, Maine Beer Co., Rising Tide and Bissell Brothers have brought beverage tourism to the forefront and distillery tasting rooms, often found in close proximity to beer operations, are capitalizing on the foot traffic.

“Lobster rolls or pints of beer, spirits and cocktails can be found at all corners of the state,” says ComraderyWight.isalso found in the state. Many distillers who spoke for this article pointed out that they got their start by talking with

established distillers who encouraged their craft. In turn, many say that they spend time with anyone curious about entering the industry.Formany that do enter the industry, there is a colleague who is also a supplier. Jesse Lupo founded Trident Stills in Etna, creating custom stills for the distilling industry after hearing what some early entrants to the field were paying for stainless steel.

He had a long fascination with distilling

Stroudwater Distillery is housed in a renovated old brick train shed.

and moonshining, he says, and after helping so many others get on their feet, Lupo and his wife, Kasey, launched Mossy Ledge Spirits in 2017 focusing on vodka and cordials.

“We have to be much better, we all have to be better than the large brands because we only have one chance to impress the customer in a positive way the first time,” says Lupo. “After they’ve heard your story, toured your place, and see how you built up and what you’ve made, they become brand ambassa dors and they’ll tell people about you.”

From equipment to local flavor, Maine is worth the trip and the extended time to take in not only the scenery and fresh seafood, but also the “Therespirits.isagreat amount of ingenuity and incredible authenticity, and from scratch spirits,” says Milne. “Like the state, our spirits have a diverse selection to choose from.” ■

Dave McConnell of Three of Strong Spirits
“We’re Round—DarrentomarketbenefitWeofsoinfortunateextremelytobeastatethatissupportivewhatwedo.havetheofacoreheresustainus.”CaseofTurnDistilling
Keith Bodine of


In 2018, Kerianne Krause called an old friend with a simple question.

Krause has a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis and is also the co-founder of Building Independence Together, a South Carolina-based company that serves children with disabilities. That call was to Tyler LaCorata—a distiller who was also the best man at her wedding and her oldest son’s godfather—to ask if there were opportunities for adults with disabilities to work at distilleries or breweries. He replied affirmatively, and as it turned out, the timing was perfect. LaCorata and another distiller, Ryan Sadis, were beginning to think about starting their own distillery.

“It was a brief conversation,” recalls LaCorata of that initial phone call. “And then Kerianne, who is amazing, she has an idea in her head and it will be executed.”

More serious conversations followed—in cluding some about misconceptions of serv ing alcohol to people with disabilities—and within months, the trio filed an LLC, setting the course for Beyond Distilling Co., which opened to the public in North Charleston, South Carolina, in December of 2021. The distillery produces whiskey, rum and gin with a mission to provide fulfilling

“This distillery came about with a mission before the distillery. The mission of trying to employ people with disabilities was the heart of it, and then we built the distillery around it.”
—Kerianne Krause of Beyond Distilling Co.
Beyond Distilling Co. strives to offer fulfilling employment opportunities to adults with disabilities.

opportunities to adults with disabilities. It currently employs five adults with varying disabilities and has a wait list of more than 40 adults with disabilities.

“This distillery came about with a mission before the distillery,” says Krause. “The mission of trying to employ people with disabilities was the heart of it, and then we built the distillery around it. It wasn’t like [it was] a distillery and we were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we also hired people with disabilities?’”Krausesays that there is a huge gap between services for children with disabilities compared with when they turn 21. And until a recent law change in South Carolina made it illegal, people with disabilities were often paid little or nothing. That was the case at a previous job for 22-year-old Zach, one of Beyond Distilling’s first employees who has an intellectual disability.

Long before the distillery opened, Sadis moved to Charleston and—through Building Independence Together—job-shadowed Zach and other children. Sadis says the experience helped him gain skills to work with people with disabilities such as autism.

“It’s the same thing you’d do with any other employee, but in this field it’s more of a spoken thing,” says Sadis. “Instead of just

making a modification and [saying], ‘Oh this is better for our employees,’ we talk about it. We’re like, ‘This is why we’re going to do this in a certain way.’”

Krause says that historically the practice of teaching adults with disabilities has been “based on, ‘I know how to teach you, so I’m going to teach you these things and you’re going to learn them even if you don’t like it. Even if you’re not ok bagging groceries, that’s what you’re going to do because that’s what you’re capable of doing.’ Advocates of adults with disabilities have been coming out and being like, ‘Why don’t you use what’s different about us as positives and if I like routines, just give me the same thing to do everyday. If I need a break every 30 minutes, just give me a break.’”Thedistillery created its own training modeled after evidence-based research with big goals. Krause hopes that anyone might walk in and apply for a job without worrying about their disability.

“We have somebody who applied and needs an interpreter because they are deaf, and that person wouldn’t have typically walked into another place to apply for a job,” Krause says. That’s a utopia that I would love to live Whenin.”it comes to advice for other

distilleries considering hiring people with disabilities, Krause, Sadis and LaCorata suggest taking a close look at your current company culture. If everyone–regardless of any differences—feels comfortable and appreciated, Sadis believes it can work.

“You can work with any person at any level,” he says. “It’s really just a matter of having patience and being willing to train your staff and understand different people’s limitations.”

Krause adds that most states have training opportunities available for companies to employ people with disabilities. And with a bit of reticence, she mentions that from a statistical standpoint, hiring someone with disabilities can reduce turnover.

Unfortunately, that’s because people with disabilities do not have the luxury of leaving work and easily finding another job. “That terrifies me a little bit because it’s a great way to take advantage of that,” says Krause. “So that’s why you just have to make sure that you have a company culture that provides a safe place for any person coming in. I know that’s a big thing in the industry as a whole when it comes to women and people of color, but let’s just add in people with disabilities. As a whole, make this industry a welcoming place.”

Members of the team at Beyond Distilling Co. (left to right): Connor Bloomingburg, Tyler LaCorata, Zachary Spanos, Kerianne Krause, Ryan Sadis and Gaetanina Smith


How your drink’s formula affects your branding

It is no secret that spirits-based ready-todrink (RTD) cocktails have enjoyed great success in the alcohol beverage market over the past few years and show no sign of slowing down. Before they can make their way onto the market, distillers must submit cocktail formulas to the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) for approval. Those drinks that do not fall under one of the standards of identity (such as whisky, vodka, or a “recognized cocktail”), will largely be classified as a “distilled spirits specialty” (DSS), which can carry additional challenges. While many view formula submis sions for a DSS as just another regulatory step, once approved, the formula greatly affects what can and cannot be stated on a label. Knowing where you want to end up with wording on your Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) before you submit your formula can impact formula submissions and save you time and headaches down the line.

Ingredient List

When listing the ingredients in your formula, think of how you would like to reference them on your label. The ingredients in the formula should use the exact language that you would like on your label. For example, if one of your ingredients is lemon juice, but you would like to highlight that it comes from Sicily, remember to list the ingredient in the formula as “Sicilian lemon juice” and not just “lemon juice.” Similarly, if a cocktail contains chamomile tea, but you would like to use

the term “chamomile flowers” on your label, consider listing the ingredient as a “blend of chamomile flowers.” Of course, there is not always room for maneuvering. For instance, you cannot list pineapple flavor as pineapple juice unless you are actually using juice, but knowing these things beforehand can help you avoid having to resubmit formulas to have the wording you would like on your label. Be aware, however, if you are looking to make one of the TTB’s “recognized cocktails” (and not a DSS)—such as a gimlet or margarita— then you will need to use the ingredients listed for that cocktail.

Statement of Compositions and Fanciful Names

All distilled spirits specialties require a statement of composition (SOC) on the label, indicated on the formula approval. Distilled spirits specialties will have both a SOC and a fanciful name on the label. Together, these statements act as the class and type designation for the specialty product.

The SOC on your label must be the same, or more specific than, the SOC listed in the approved formula. For example, if the SOC for a product is “Vodka with Natural Flavors,” your label may say, “Vodka with Lemon and Lime Juice,” if those ingredients are in the approved formula. Just remember, you cannot pick and choose. If you decide to list the ingredients in the SOC, you will generally be required to list all ingredients (with some exceptions) and cannot select only one or Additionally, cannot call a product a straight vodka if it is a DSS. The term vodka must always be accompanied with either the phrase “natural flavors” or the specific ingredients used. Similarly, longer statements or tag lines on the label about the vodka specialty must say “vodka with” and cannot identify the product simply

as “vodka” since the TTB finds this to be inconsistent with the SOC.

Although you may feel limited by your SOC, there is room for creativity in your product’s “fanciful name.” The TTB defines the fanciful name as a descriptive name or phrase that further identifies your product and is required for a DSS. Although you can get creative with your cocktail’s name, it cannot be false, misleading or inconsistent with your SOC. Returning to our earlier example, if your SOC is “Vodka with Natural Flavors” your fanciful name on the label could be “Lemon Lime Cocktail,” “Lemon Lime Burst,” or something even unrelated to the flavors, such as “Summer Splash.”

The interplay between formulas and labels can be very complicated, even for the most seasoned industry member.

Can I Change my Statement of Composition?

The SOC is provided by the TTB and unfortunately having it changed can often mean having to change your formula. However, some exceptions and creative alternatives exist. For example, if you are mixing different finished alcohol products, and want to highlight certain ingredients without having to list them all on your label, you could submit one formula to get one SOC and then incorporate that formula as an ingredient in a second formula. More specifically, if you were aiming to have the SOC “Vodka with Mango Liqueur” you could first try submitting the mango liqueur as its own formula, where you would list

all of the ingredients (such as, mango, lemon, etc.). Then in the second formula (which would be for the final product), you would list as an ingredient the approved mango liqueur and provide the formula ID number. This would allow you to list Vodka with Mango Liqueur on your label without necessarily needing to specify all the additional flavors in the mango liqueur, which can make your label look awkward and clunky.

The interplay between formulas and labels can be very complicated, even for the most seasoned industry member. Give yourself enough time to deal with obstacles that may arise during the approval process to re-work formulas and labels so you can end up with

the right branding for your drink. ■ Luciana G. Salinas is an attorney at Malkin Law, P.A., a law firm focused on serving the alcohol inindustry.beverageNothingthisarticleis

intended to be and should not be construed as specific legal advice.


The bitter, floral, earthy side of liqueurs

Raw Materials

Gin is often thought of and discussed in con junction with its botanical profile, but it’s not the only spirit to receive the herbal treatment. Historically, botanicals show up elsewhere such as in bitter and herbaceous Italian liqueurs, and those are of late a category where distillers are innovating and adapting their offerings based on trends, consumer interest and availability (and cost) of raw materials. But then there’s always history, too, that plays into the mind of an entrepreneur.

Jack from Brooklyn Sorel is what happens when you take an ageold beverage tradition—the hibiscus-steeped red drink and turn it into a shelf-stable liqueur that’s garnered 30 awards since its launch, as well as the Innovation Award at ACSA’s 9th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits. A dire cancer diagnosis spurred Jackie Summers, its founder, to create the beverage.

“The experience permanently adjusted my perspective and made me reconsider my values and priorities,” he says.

“The beverage that became Sorel survived as an attempt to destroy culture. The knowl edge of what this flower (hibiscus) could do traveled with these people who knew it. This is why in the Afro-Caribbean diaspora this drink is almost like an epigenetic thing,” he says. He’s no exception. “Like a good Caribbean boy, I

made a version of Sorel for my friends and fam ily in my kitchen for 20 years.” And as the story goes, it took him 623 failures before landing on a shelf-stable Sorel liqueur, a process that went from concept to hitting the shelves in 2012 in a speedy 14 months.

For Summers, Sorel is the start but it’s not the end. There are plenty of other botanicallybased beverages around the world like it, known mostly to the cultures that drink it. “I want to introduce flavors to the world that people are generally unfamiliar with. My job over the next two decades is to make Sorel ubiquitous and make others like it that have a deep cultural relevance known to a community, but not the world at large, known too,” he says.

He’s struck up on something that resonates with bartenders and home mixologists alike. It’s incredibly versatile. “It’s a procession of fla vor that can be used to enhance many other flavors,” he says. Or, you can drink it straight, add a little ginger beer and lime, and drink it cold. “In Miami, they do slushes. In Colorado, it’s served hot. It’s like the best mulled wine, but there’s no tannins and sulfites, so there’s no wine headache,” he says. There’s no reason why Sorel, with its clove, nutmeg and cinna mon notes, can’t sit alongside the likes of, say, Campari or Averna. Summers says it will be in half the country by the end of 2022 and the rest of the country by 2023.

Gulch Distillers

Burrone Fernet and Burrone Aperitivo, two botanical-forward liqueurs from the smallbatch Gulch Distillers in Helena, Montana, are directly inspired by the Italian amari culture, says co-founder Steffen Rasile. But their creation comes with some limitations in terms of “Bothingredients.ofthese products make use of exotic ingredients that do not grow in our climate, such as myrrh, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and Szechuan peppercorns,” says co-founder Tyrrell Hibbard. Rasile says local and native ingredients such as chamomile, mint, thyme and rose hips are grown in their backyards, wild harvested from the forest around town, and sourced from local farms.

As they say, with great power comes great responsibility, and Gulch takes that seriously. Fernet is a new product for most people who walk into their tasting room, says Hibbard. “It’s fun watching the response when someone tastes it for the first time; they can’t hide their reaction,” he says. As Rasile explains it, “exotic spirits consumption is slow to take over in Montana. We’re proud to expose our custom ers to new tastes and techniques to use at home and to order in their local bar.”

Gulch encourages people to drink Fernet straight or chilled. “We have heard of some winning flavor combinations such as rum

and lemon, or with licorice mint tea. The best though is when someone adopts Burrone Fernet as their standard flask contents,” he says. As for Burrone Aperitivo, it’s “fairly delicate, bittersweet and juicy. It’s playful and luscious.” People tend to mix it with tonic or use it in spritzers. Other botanically-inclined beverages are in the works, including ouzo, and Rasile says, “we would love to get into the vermouth games.”

Don Ciccio & Figli

According to Francesco Amodeo, president and master distiller of Washington, D.C.based Don Ciccio & Figli, consumers are getting a little more adventurous with their choices, seeking flavors that might be unfa miliar to them. “As we saw American tastes shifting toward a greater interest in more bit ter and herbaceous liqueurs and cocktails, we began building our aperitivo and amaro line with much greater emphasis on the botanical and more bitter ingredients,” says Amodeo.

Undoubtedly, these spirits come from family recipes, but they’re adapted for modern pal ates. “For example, our Amaro Tonico FerroKina, exhibits a more balanced and palatable mineral finish, far more approachable than the original recipe, which included a more significant iron content,” he explains. It’s not uncommon for the producer to adjust the botanical profile, as in the Ferro-Kina, removing some that were similar to others, or in other cases, adding more to provide more structure to the Modernliqueur.consumers are increasingly curious about Italian-inspired cocktails such as spritz es and negronis, too. “This fuels a deeper un derstanding and appreciation of our products and their uses,” he says. That interest makes it easier for them to “play and expand,” along with push to develop unique flavors, “ones not yet available in our American market, ones that offer something novel for the profession al and at-home cocktail makers,” he says.

The brand is also aware of a few trends; namely, consumer demand for healthier choices. Some of those include adjustments with their botanical ingredients in order to lower sugar content and the ABV, so they become more of a mixer within a cocktail. That desire for healthier choices leads people to look at more natural ingredients—and direct that awareness toward the ways in which those ingredients show up in their food and drink. “People go to the farmers market and pursue healthier choices, and we believe people should have similar options in their liqueurs,” he says. ■

“As we saw American tastes shifting toward ... bitter and herbaceous liqueurs, we began building our ... line with much greater emphasis on the botanical and more bitter of—Francescoingredients."AmodeoDonCiccio&Figli
Quench your thirst for knowledge in ACSA’s Craft Spirits Classroom. For more information or to register, visit our website KNOWLEDGE IS POWER FREE MEMBERSTO


The role of the parent brand in brand architecture

Editor’s Note: This article is based on “The Beyond Beer Handbook,” the latest book from CODO Design. Part book, part quiz and part choose-your-own-adventure-style novel, the book is a purpose-built tool for helping you ex pand your portfolio and build a more resilient business. And while beer is in the title, there are many lessons relevant for distillers.

Whenever I’m on a call with a potential client to discuss a new extension (ready-todrink cocktail, intra-portfolio spirits release, etc.), my first few questions are always about their distillery’s brand as it exists today (ver sus jumping straight to discussing their new product itself). I do this because many of the decisions you will make when launching an extension revolve around your parent brand (your distillery’s name, identity and sto ry). Typical questions include: Does this new extension carry the same values and promises as your distillery’s parent brand? Does it mesh comfortably with the same activity or occa sion as your parent brand? Does it speak to the same people as your parent brand?

On Protecting Your Parent Brand

When we help our clients make brand archi tecture decisions, we’re most concerned with protecting their parent brand’s equity. How will this extension add value to, or detract from, the parent? How can you protect your

reputation and positioning? To what degree should the parent brand be present on this new beverage? How can your parent brand give credibility to the extension? How many

categories can you credibly expand into? Other questions we’re working to resolve through this process can include: How far can we extend your brand without losing its

Dogfish Head Brewing and Rogue Ale & Spirits released their canned cocktails as brand extensions. This lets the parent brand serve as the main purchasing driver in each case.

core meaning and relevance? Can your parent brand credibly enter this new space? How can you safely grow your overall portfolio?

Without a strong parent brand, you have nothing to extend. No equity. No goodwill. No reputation. No secret sauce. Nothing.

This is an important discussion because your parent brand is likely your biggest source of revenue. It’s what brought you to the dance, so you need to be careful that you don’t damage it when launching new products. To put a fine point on this, when launching a new extension, you have to al ways consider how it impacts your distillery’s parent brand and positioning.

It is our job as brand builders to determine to what degree the parent brand comes through on new products, whether or not this is strategically-sound, and what approach will give you the best chance for success.

Your Parent Brand as a Purchasing Driver

A purchasing driver is the primary reason someone buys a product. Your parent brand and new product brand can both play this role depending on how you position the relationship.Animportant question here: are people buying this product because it is explicitly from your distillery? In this case, your parent brand is the primary purchasing driver.

Or, is someone buying this new product

because of its own specific style or brand (and the fact that it’s produced by your dis tillery is either a nice bonus or doesn’t factor into the decision at all)? In this case, your new brand is the main purchasing driver.

Beverage Brand Architecture Continuum

This continuum is composed of three core brand architecture approaches: the branded house, sub/endorsed brands and a house of brands. There’s a fourth overarching architec ture approach as well, the hybrid brand, but this is simply a blending of any of these other strategies as needed.

These strategies are the basic building blocks for any growing brand. Note the red color in the infographic—that’s your parent brand.

On the left side of this illustration, on the branded house and sub brand side, you’ll see that the parent brand is the most prominent element on the packaging. In both of these cases, your parent brand is the main purchas ing driver (why people buy that product).

As you make your way further to the right on this continuum, into the endorsed brand and house of brands territory, the parent brand’s role diminishes to nothing. This is where the product brand itself takes center

stage with the parent brand either acting as a subtle endorser (a guarantee of quality or a shared set of values, etc.) in the case of an endorsed brand or falling away entirely in the case of a new brand.

What makes the most sense for your next product?

The Beverage Extension Assessment Tool (B.E.A.T.) is made up of 14 questions to guide you to the correct brand strategy prescription for your next release. Some of these questions are straight-forward. Some take more time and consideration. Answer them to the best of your ability and see where you land.

After the assessment, you’ll have one or two possible strategy prescriptions. At this point, you can think of “The Beyond Beer Handbook” as a choose-your-own-adventure novel.

Skip ahead to learn about the pros and cons of a particular strategy. Once you under stand the ins and outs of that approach, you can continue on with positioning, naming and branding your new product in confidence. ■

better work by directly including clients in the creative process. Learn more about CODO at and read “The Beyond Beer Handbook” at

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE B.E.A.T. Sierra Nevada and Samuel Adams both act as a purchasing co-driver which makes Little Thing and Wicked sub brands. These are great examples of how the parent brand can ebb and flow in importance.
Without a strong parent brand, you have nothing to extend. No equity. No goodwill. No reputation. No secret sauce. Nothing.
Isaac Arthur is a co-founder of CODO Design, an theyonfoundedbranding&basedIndianapolis-foodbeveragefirmin2009thebeliefthatcancreate


Deciding on a label applicator may be a bit daunting to those craft distillers in the market for one. Many will be surprised to find out just how many options are available, from small hand-operated table-top units to the more complex automated machines that take up several feet of a distillery’s production space.

But most craft distilleries will most likely be dealing with the smaller, less expensive units. And often the one they decide to go with then comes down to the details.

For Denver’s The Block Distilling Co., it meant finding a unit that would be able to label its rectangular bottles. Kraig Weaver, one of the owners, says after what he calls a “difficult” search they eventually landed on Pack Leader’s ELF-20 tabletop model.

“We just had to do a lot of research and searching to figure out what applicator would work with the rectangular bottles,” Weaver says. “The ELF-20 is designed for a wide vari ety of rectangular packages, so you can use it for small boxes or really any sort of rectangu lar cubed style package. It’s a fairly universal applicator for those shapes.”

Like many craft distilleries today, The Block also needed a can labeler. That choice turned out to be easier. Twin Monkeys Beverage Systems set them up with a Primera APSeries labeler supplied as part of an overall canning line.

Over at Rhode Island Spirits, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, co-founder Cathy Plourde says they were looking for a labeler to use for both their tall and short bottles and which could

label on two sides if needed. They found the solution from Race Label out of New Mexico in its RL-1 Standard Applicator.

“Our label is pretty tall,” she says. “Also, when we were setting things up, we tried to buy American-made as much as possible and the reviews we got from other people using this one were pretty terrific. The owner was great—very helpful and willing to talk us throughAnotheradjustments.”consideration for Rhode Island was mobility. Explains Plourde: “When we were looking at other distillery setups, it was clear the easiest and most flexible thing would be to have our label machine on a cart. This way the cart does more of the moving to make it more comfortable and ergonomic for the human with less shifting of the actual filled bottles. And the less you can handle a bottle the less likely it gets broken. So, with a cart we’re able to shift the label machine up and down the line as needed. Additionally, the setup is flexible for one person doing a small bottling or a team of 10 in for a large bottling run.”

Weaver has one overall piece of advice for other craft distillers when deciding on a machine: it pays to not skimp on them because it can come back to hurt you. “Spend the money on a nice machine to make sure you’re efficient,” he says. “It’ll save you more time than the machine is worth very quickly. Because as a small business owner, your time being wasted is costing you money and efficiency right away.”

Here are some of the latest label applica tors that will fit craft distillery operations:



Race Labeling Concepts offers hand label machines that are targeted at affordability for the smaller craft distillery. It says its machines are especially easy to use, do not require any electricity to operate and avoid complicated components that can make use difficult.

It offers several different models available depending on the distillery’s bottle and size. It also has an extensive video library on YouTube with tutorials on each model.


Labelmate says its label applicators are designed to save you time, money and ef fort. Its manual bottle label applicator is the Bottlemate-712M, and the company offers

A rundown of the latest options when it comes to label applicators

two series of automatic label applicators: the 900 series (standard) and 1500 series (large). Within each series, they have two models: one that applies a single label per bottle, and another that has the ability to apply either 1 or 2 labels (font and back) per bottle. labelma


per container or two labels per container in a non-stop mode.




Dispensa-Matic’s Bottle-Matic enables the user to label bottles by simply inserting the container and pressing a foot switch. Once the foot switch is activated the label is ap plied at over 4.5 per second. Once a rhythm is established bottles are labeled at speeds up to 1,200 pieces an hour, says the company. The company’s latest addition is the BottleMatic-OS (Optical Sensing) designed to label large containers with ease using thin labels.


Chris Erbach, integrated marketing manager for Weber Packaging Solutions, which distrib utes Pack Leader label applicators, says their ELF-50 is “a favorite for small companies as you can set it on a table, use it, then move it to another room when not in use.” It is a small self-contained unit with a conveyor and labeler that can label about 20-30 products a minute depending on label size. “A good system for start-ups and small micro shops,” Erbach says. The PL-501 is a larger system that is faster and can handle larger labels like 16 oz. tall cans and the PL-625 Pro is a larger, faster system that can handle wrap-around labeling or two-sided


On the automated label applicator front, for larger operations, Krones’ offering is the Autocol Pro labeler. “We offer two different kinds of labeling stations for these machines,” says the company’s head of the North American label division, Mike Soloway, “our Autocol TS for very high speed applications and our Autocol CL for slow to moderate speed applications. Since craft distilleries run slower speeds, we typically offer the Autocol CL labeling stations.”

Twin Monkeys says its Saluda can label appli cator is its best fit for the craft spirits market. This labeler was specifically commissioned by Twin Monkeys to be able to accommodate a wide range of labels and cans and affordably apply labels at a rate of 30 cans/minute. This “tiny” automated labeler, as the company describes it, will simplify label application and also offers the option to date code on the labels prior to twinmonkeys.netapplication.


For cans, carriers also afford the opportunity to extend brand messaging. Here are a couple of can carrier applicators that are a good fit for craft distilleries:


Introduced by Roberts PolyPro in 2017, the Craft-Pak 4-pack and 6-pack can carriers have steadily grown in popularity. Roberts PolyPro designs and manufactures low, medium and high-speed multipack can carrier systems for Craft-Pak can carriers, including: manual, semi-automatic and fully automatic models. Craft-Pak can carriers are available for all popular sizes of standard and slim beverage can formats.


PakTech’s CCA120/180 is capable of process ing up to 120 quad packs or 180 six-packs of cans per minute and can fit standard, slim or sleek cans. The CCA120/180 is an intermit tent motion machine and takes up a footprint of about 4 by 8 feet. The company also offers a continuous motion CCA440 which can process up to 440 standard and sleek cans per minute. ■


Also for larger volume operations, P.E. Labellers offers the Modular Plus 540 & 770 labelers. The Modular Plus 540 and 770 pres sure sensitive labelers are flexible solutions for speeds up to 183 cpm. Like every P.E. Modular Plus labeler, 540 and 770 models can accommodate round, square, rectangular oval and tapered containers. They are capable of applying clear, metallic and paper pressure sensitive labels as well as booklets to plastic, glass and metal containers. They are offered with 1, 2, 3, or 4 label application stations and they are capable of applying up to four labels



As noted in our cover story, on-premise establishments—especially those with a focus on craft cocktails—have fully embraced gin. It’s harder, however, for a consumer to find their new favorite bottle of gin when it comes to off-premise sales. The following charts show whether and by how much gin sales increased or decreased between 2020 and 2021, according to IWSR.


OFF-PREMISE Gin Volume in 2021 Compared to 2020* *Source: IWSR
Gin Sales by Tier in 2021 Compared to 2020* +56.5% -6% +10% ANDPREMIUMABOVE ANDSTANDARDVALUE -5%
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