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VOL. 2, ISSUE 6 | JANUARY 2021

CRAFT SPIRITS

BLASTS FROM THE PAST

BRAND REVIVALS RAW MATERIALS

SPECIALTY MALT

THE ART, SCIENCE AND BUSINESS OF DISTILLING

CRAFT SPIRITS PACKAGING AWARDS SEE ALL OF THE MEDALISTS INSIDE

A PUBLICATION OF THE AMERICAN CR AF T SPIRITS ASSOCIATION


CONTENTS

JANUARY 2021

34

FEATURES 34

The Craft Spirits Packaging Awards Celebrating the Best and Brightest in the Design of Craft Spirits Packaging and Labels

48

History in a Bottle

48

Distillers Revive Pre-Prohibition Distilleries and Spirits Brands BY JON PAGE

52

Distributor Incentives Keys to Unlocking Productive Relationships with Distributors BY MAGGIE CAMPBELL

54

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT Still Whistling After All These Years Montana’s Whistling Andy Distillery marks its 10th anniversary on New Year’s Eve 2020. BY JEFF CIOLETTI

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DISTILLING DESTINATIONS Straight Up in Southern California San Diego-area distilleries lean into seasonality, cuisine and each other to grow their spirits scene. BY JEFF CIOLETTI

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DEPARTMENTS 14

8

Editor’s Note

12

Contributors

NEW SPIRITS 14

Recent Releases from Up North Distillery, Westward Whiskey and More

IMBIBER’S BOOKSHELF 20

“Happy Hour Handbook” and “The Terroir of Whiskey”

INDUSTRY UPDATE 21

28

Cedar Ridge eclipses larger brands with best-selling bourbon in Iowa.

LEW’S BOTTOM SHELF 26 We Can Be Better BY LEW BRYSON

WHAT’S STIRRING 28

Flavorful Concoctions From Chemist Spirits, Iron Fish Distillery, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, Royal Foundry Craft Spirits and Whistling Andy Distillery

ACSA AFFAIRS 32

60

Long-Term FET Reform Update

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72

68

RETAIL: On-PREMISE 60

RAW MATERIALS 68

TECHNICALLY SPEAKING 74

Craft spirits tasting rooms adapt business models during pandemic winter.

U.S. distillers are exploring specialty malts in search of new possibilities for whiskey.

Revisiting standard operating procedures for cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting

BY JON PAGE

BY MARGARETT WATERBURY

RETAIL: OFF-PREMISE 64

PACKAGING 70

How retailers are navigating in-store tastings during the pandemic.

Cradle to Cradle Certification has helped one bottle supplier to the craft spirits industry boost its sustainable practices.

Out in the Cold

Safe to Taste

BY SAM SLAUGHTER

distribution & logistics 66 Road Rules

Distillers ponder local delivery to consumers, where legal. BY JEFF CIOLETTI

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Roasted to Perfection

Striving for Greener Glass

BY ANDREW KAPLAN

SALES & MARKETING 72

Keep it Clean

legal corner 76

What’s in a [Whiskey] name? That which we finish in oak Cognac casks and call “Rye Whiskey” may taste as sweet, but should probably just be called “Whiskey.” BY FRANK KNIZNER

CLOSING TIME 78

Spirits Category Volume Forecasts

Digital Switch

Amid pandemic, distillers turn online to market their brands.

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CRAFT SPIRITS MAGAZINE C EO, A M E R I C A N C R A F T S P I R I T S A S S O C I AT I O N | Margie A.S. Lehrman, margie@americancraftspirits.org E D I TO R I N C H I E F | Jeff Cioletti, jeff@americancraftspirits.org S E N I O R E D I TO R | Jon Page, jon@americancraftspirits.org M E D I A S A L E S CO N S U LTA N T | Ashley Guillermo, ashley@americancraftspirits.org A RT D I R EC TO R | Michelle Villas CO N T R I B U TO R S | Lew Bryson, Maggie Campbell, John Holl, Andrew Kaplan, Frank Knizner, Sam Slaughter and Margarett Waterbury AMERICAN CRAFT SPIRITS ASSOCIATION O P E R AT I O N S A D M I N I S T R ATO R | Teresa McDaniel, teresa@americancraftspirits.org E D U C AT I O N CO O R D I N ATO R | Kirstin Brooks, kirstin@americancraftspirits.org M E M B E R O U T R E AC H M A N AG E R | Carason Lehmann, carason@americancraftspirits.org ACSA ADVISORS M E E T I N G S A N D LO G I S T I C S | Stephanie Sadri, HelmsBriscoe S T R AT EG I C CO M M U N I C AT I O N S | Alexandra S. Clough, GATHER PR L EG A L | Ryan Malkin, Malkin Law, P.A. P U B L I C P O L I C Y | Jim Hyland, The Pennsylvania Avenue Group ACSA BOARD OF DIRECTORS, 2020-2021 P R E S I D E N T | Becky Harris, Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. (VA) V I C E P R E S I D E N T | P.T. Wood, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (CO) S EC R E TA RY/ T R E A S U R E R | Jeff Kanof, Copperworks Distilling Co. (WA) EX OFFICIO EAST Maggie Campbell, Privateer Rum (MA) Ryan Christiansen, Caledonia Spirits (VT) Becky Harris, Catoctin Creek (VA) Jessica J. Lemmon, Cart/Horse Distilling (PA) Tom Potter, New York Distilling Co. (NY)

CENTRAL & MOUNTAIN Gina Holman, J. Carver Distillery (MN) Colin Keegan, Santa Fe Spirits (NM) Thomas Mote, Balcones Distillery (TX) Amber Pollock, Backwards Distilling Company (WY) Colton Weinstein, Corsair Artisan Distillery (TN) P.T. Wood, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (CO)

PACIFIC Dan Farber, Osocalis Distillery (CA) Jake Holshue, Rogue Ales & Spirits (OR) Jeff Kanof, Copperworks Distilling Company (WA) Molly Troupe, Freeland Spirits (OR)

Thomas Jensen, New Liberty Distillery (PA) ACSA PAC Stephen Johnson (VT) ACSA PAST PRESIDENTS 2 0 1 9 -2 0 2 0 | Chris Montana, Du Nord Craft Spirits 2 0 1 7-2 0 1 8 | Mark Shilling, Treaty Oak Brewing and Distilling Co. 2 0 1 6 -2 0 1 7 | Paul Hletko, FEW Spirits 2 0 1 4 -2 0 1 6 | Tom Mooney, House Spirits CRAFT SPIRITS MAGAZINE EDITORIAL BOARD Eli Aguilera, Lew Bryson, Alexandra Clough, Sly Cosmopoulos, Dan Gasper, Dr. Dawn Maskell For advertising inquiries, please contact Ashley Guillermo: ashley@americancraftspirits.org. For editorial inquiries or to send a news release, e-mail news@americancraftspirits.org P.O. Box 701414, Louisville, KY 40270 • 502.807.4249 © 2021 CRAFT SPIRITS magazine is a publication of the American Craft Spirits Association.


Where Science Meets Art Yeast, Nutrients, Enzymes and Bacteria

Our single source philosophy provides the highest quality ingredients, tailored technical service and education, and industry leading experience to support your needs. Your spirits are our passion, your needs are our motivation. Contact us to learn more today. www.lallemandcraftdistilling.com Š 2020


Editor’s Note

NEW YEAR’S WISHES In my Editor’s Note from this time in 2019, I revealed how I was done with end-of-year “best of” lists because they were too much about looking backward and not forward. I’m going to double-down on that sentiment this year because—well, is there really anything about 2020 people actually want to highlight? (“Best Zoom Background,” maybe? I rest my case.) But, I’ll admit, I’m also a little hesitant to look forward this time around. When industry media folks were making projections about probable trends in 2020—or, in my case, what I really wanted to be trends in 2020—little did we know there was an entity named COVID about to say, “Hold my whiskey.” Since 2021 is looking very “second verse, same as first” in relation to 2020, I’m not going to play the prognostication game. What I am going to do is wish upon some stars as we begin a new year. I just got a new telescope (to get a better look at Jupiter and Saturn), so I know there’s got to be at least one celestial body among the billions and billions I’ll be exploring that might actually listen. So, stars, in your multitudes, if you’re still in the wish-granting business, I’ve got a few for you to execute in this New Year. ON-PREMISE BACK ON A year ago, I called upon restaurants to “get bolder with their menus and offer spirits pairing suggestions for every course.” This year, I just want restaurants and bars to be able to stay in business. They’ve gotten very little help from the government, so we’ve got to continue to rally the public to support their local eateries and watering holes any way they can—whether it’s buying a gift card they never intend to use or ramping up their curbside adventures (where legal) until this thing is finally over. At the end of 2019 I also encouraged bars to showcase their spirits selections as neat or on-the-rocks pours. Let’s stick a pin in that. If it’s the to-go cocktails (again, where legal) that are keeping you afloat, just keep doing those. And, consumers, please keep buying them! Bars and restaurants are largely where consumers discover craft spirits, so our entire industry’s existence is intertwined with that of the on-premise. BANISHED WORDS AND PHRASES I’ve said it before. I’m sure I speak for most people when I say that I hope we get to a point in 2021 (probably on the very late end of it) where we never have to hear the terms

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“pivot,” “quarantine” or “temperature check” or shout to a computer screen, “You’re on mute!” IN THE FLESH I would like to see the virtual become the actual again, when we’re all greeting each other at industry events. I hope to see all of your Instagram-filter-less, ring-light-less faces July 25-27 at ACSA’s Annual Distillers’ Convention & Vendor Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, and I hope to be conducting some Craft Spirits Live, Craft Spirits TV and Craft Spirits Podcast interviews in-person at distilleries. It would be nice to, just once, not have to say, “You froze up, could you repeat what you just said?” PERMANENT FET RELIEF I’ve had to re-write this part several times (because, well, Trump). As we were putting this issue to bed, the House and Senate had voted to make the federal excise tax (FET) rate of $2.70 per proof gallon on the first 100,000 gallons permanent. But it still awaits the signature of the President, who has indicated his disapproval of some elements of the overall omnibus package, in which the FET provisions are included. I’m choosing to be optimistic, though, and am viewing the bipartisan Congressional action on the bill as an absolutely massive development for which ACSA members have fought tooth and nail for nearly a decade. It’s likely that 2021 is finally the year that permanent FET relief becomes a reality. READ THE ROOM In last year’s Editor’s Note I explained why I’m not a fan of Dry January (true moderation should be a 365-day-a-year virtue and should be addressed year-round). See above for the reasons why it won’t be on the calendar this year. ■

Jeff Cioletti Editor in Chief

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Thank You, Sponsors! Arglass

In an industry largely focused on products that require long production runs, we offer the glass container market a superior alternative based on our three principles: flexibility, efficiency and sustainability. Arglass will transform the glass container market in the United States by creating a network of next-generation manufacturing plants that will be at the same time flexible, efficient and sustainable. arglass.us

Berlin Packaging

Berlin Packaging is the only Hybrid Packaging Supplier® of plastic, glass and metal containers and closures. We supply billions of items annually along with package design, financing, consulting, warehousing and logistics services for customers across all industries. Berlin Packaging brings together the best of manufacturing, distribution and incomeadding service providers. berlinpackaging.com

BPS Glass

BPS Glass has grown to achieve a global reach that benefits its customers and allows business models to thrive by offering a global connectivity in all the services it provides. bpsglass.com/

eGRANDSTAND.COM

FIVE x 5 Solutions

FIVE x 5 Solutions believes that software should scale with you. We’re more than a service provider: we’re a committed partner in your distillery’s success, and take pride in providing the most complete solution for your growing operation. We take your business as seriously as you do. Fx5solutions.com

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. malkin.law

Thousand Oaks Barrel Co.

Glencairn Crystal

Glencairn Crystal is a leading manufacturer of bespoke crystal and glass. For over three decades, this family business, based in Scotland, has gained an international reputation for fine crystal and glassware. Best known for the creation of the Glencairn Glass, the official glass for whisky. glencairn.co.uk

Midwest Custom Bottling

Founded in 2008, Midwest Custom Bottling seeks to serve small customers and provide them with custom bottling solutions that fit their needs. We can find a solution to bottle your exclusive product, whether that entails a uniquely shaped bottle design or a low volume specialty test run. bottlingllc.com

Thousand Oak Barrel Co. manufactures barrels to age and serve your spirits. All products offer a variety of options for customizing and branding with your personalized design. 1000oaksbarrel.com

Top Shelf Logistics

Grandstand

Grandstand is a leading printing and branding company that provides custom decorated glassware, apparel, promotional items and creative services. For more than 30 years, we’ve helped businesses large and small simplify their efforts, conserve time and differentiate their brand. egrandstand.com

Moonshine University

Moonshine University is the nation’s premier educational distillery, 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. moonshineuniversity.com

Top Shelf Logistics is a best in class freight provider focused solely on the spirits industry, providing clients industry proven sustainable domestic transportation capacity, service and value. Utilizing our singular multi-modal platform we collaboratively develop, implement and manage logistics solutions for craft and heritage distilleries, distributors, producers and upstream vendors. topshelflogistics.com

Ultra Pure

Park Street

Park Street delivers productivityenhancing and cost-saving back-office solutions, advisory services, working capital, compliance management, export solution, integrated accounting and human resources management solutions to more than 14,000 alcoholic beverage brands from the U.S. and around the world. parkstreet.com

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 distilleries and brand owners with virtually every type of alcohol from all over the world. ultrapure-usa.com


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!

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 extracts, brewers flakes and filtering aids. briess.com

Haskell

We are a global network of experts providing integrated design, engineering, construction and professional services to clients and communities. We bring a history of innovation and thoughtful expertise to craft the optimal solution for every project or program, regardless of size or market. haskell.com

Saverglass

Saverglass provides for premium and super-premium spirits, still & sparkling wines and craft beers. Recognized for its innovation, its glass-making expertise and the quality of its glass, products and designs, Saverglass is the partner of choice for brand creators, craft makers and the largest wine and spirits groups worldwide. saverglass.com

Supercap

BSG Distilling

Fisher & Company

As the craft distilling industry grows, BSG Distilling has been focused on supplying distillers with the best ingredients from around the world. Today, the craft distilling market trusts BSG Distilling to deliver the finest ingredients at competitive prices, without sacrificing customer service. bsgdistilling.com

Fisher & Company is the leading investment bank adviser to artisan spirits, beer and wine brands. Fisher has advised on some of the most important merger, acquisition and strategic investments partnerships among American Craft Spirits Association members in recent years. linkedin.com/in/johnafisher/

Independent Stave Co.

ISTS

We’ve been in this industry for over 100 years, during which time we’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a great barrel to age great spirits. Our R&D team and account managers have hundreds of barrels currently in experimentation. Partnering with distillers, we think outside the box to develop new products that push your vision forward. Iscbarrels.com

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. supercap.it

Tapì

Since 2001, ISTS has offered cost-effective, solid expertise in safety training, consulting and management services. We make workplaces safer, employees ready and compliance uncomplicated. ISTS has extensive experience working with the spirits industry, so our safety programs are totally customized to address the specific challenges for your site. istsky.com

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

The Barrel Mill

The Barrel Mill is one of the most respected cooperages in the industry, with a history in lumber dating back over a century. By combining old-world craftsmanship with state-of-the art equipment and technology, we deliver the best wine and spirit barrels for many of the leading craft brands. whiskeybarrel.com

DISTILLERY MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE Whalen Insurance

Whalen Insurance is a second-generation insurance agency owned and operated by Peter Whalen. Peter started a program to insure craft breweries in the mid 1980s and expanded to craft distilleries almost 10 years ago. The program provides all property and liability coverages needed to safely operate a distillery, as well as multiple coverages designed to address the unique exposures facing distillers. whaleninsurance.com

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry. It is dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesale distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. wswa.org

Whiskey Systems

Whiskey Systems Distillery Management software is a complete production tracking, cost accounting, inventory management and audit-ready compliance reporting system that’s tailored to the unique needs of distillers. Making, blending or bottling, Whiskey Systems handles any process and any spirit type. Unlimited users, affordable options and best in class support. whiskeysystems.com


Contributors

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 WhiskeyWash.com, American Whiskey and Bourbon+. He is the author of “Tasting Whiskey” (Storey Publishing, 2014) and the just-released “Whiskey Master Class.” He’s also written four regional brewery guidebooks.

Sam Slaughter is the author of “Are You Afraid of the Dark Rum? And Other Cocktails For ‘90s Kids.” His writing has been featured in Maxim, Mashed, Bloomberg, InsideHook, The Bitter Southerner and more. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina, and can be found online @slaughterwrites.

Maggie Campbell is the president and head distiller of Privateer Rum, immediate past vice president of the ACSA, and serves on the WSET Alumni Advisory Board. She is also a current Master of Wine student and received her Diploma in Craft Distilling Technologies from the Siebel Institute, her Level IV Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and was the founder of the Denver Brewer’s League. She previously worked as assistant distiller at GermainRobin after being introduced to distillation through her original passion for whiskey.

Frank Knizner is an associate attorney at Lehrman Beverage Law. Frank advises clients on all aspects of federal and state alcoholic beverage law matters, including permits, licenses, labels, formulas, and trade practices. Frank also helps clients with trademarks.

Margarett Waterbury is a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Spirited Magazine, Whisky Advocate and many other publications. She is the former managing editor of Edible Portland, as well as the co-founder and former managing editor of The Whiskey Wash. She is the author of “Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland’s Whiskies.”

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 Steal This Beer, a podcast 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.

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THE CONVENTION YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS

SAVE THE DATE JULY 25-27, 2021

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

8TH ANNUAL DISTILLERS’ CONVENTION & VENDOR TRADE SHOW KENTUCKY INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTER Host Hotel: The Galt House Hotel

AMERICANCRAFTSPIRITS.ORG

WALK AWAY ENERGIZED AND INSPIRED AS WE CELEBRATE THE CRAFT SPIRITS COMMUNITY


New Spirits

Up North Distillery of Post Falls, Idaho, announces the release of its first whiskey, the 86-proof North Idaho Single Malt Whiskey. Up North Distillery has been patiently waiting several years to release its first single malt whiskey which is distilled from 100% malted barley grown in the Northwest.

Westward Whiskey of Portland, Oregon, is celebrating the launch of its third permanent expression—Westward American Single Malt Pinot Noir Cask, which at 90 proof joins the original Westward American Single Malt and Westward American Single Malt Stout Cask. All three expressions are now available nationwide, with a new look, which includes a stunning custom bottle design and logo that pays homage to the whiskey’s Northwest provenance and indelible link to the culture, climate, and natural ingredients of the American Northwest.

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503 Distilling of Oregon City, Oregon, has added three new products to its lineup, including Mt. Hood Old Fashioned, Wildfire Cinnamon Rum and 503 Pear Brandy. The 80-proof Pear Brandy is fermented and distilled in the traditional Bavarian style—on the skins, single distillation—using Bartlett pears harvested by the distillery team. Wildfire Cinnamon Rum is 69 proof and the Old Fashioned is 40 proof.

Rock Town Distillery of Little Rock, Arkansas, recently announced the release of its 94-proof Arkansas Single Malt Whiskey. The spirit was double-distilled from a mash bill of 100% Irish Malt and blended with a mash bill of 75.1% Brewer’s Malt. It was then aged for two years in 15and 25-gallon used Bourbon barrels. It was aged for an additional two years in French oak barrels.

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New Spirits

Widow Jane Distillery announced the release of The Vaults 2020, the follow up to the brand’s successful 2019 debut expression in The Vaults collection. The 99-proof release is a marriage of 15-17 year-old Tennessee and Indiana bourbons from barrels hand-picked from the Widow Jane rickhouse stocks in Brooklyn, New York, and meticulously blended, rested, and finished by Widow Jane president, distiller and blender Lisa Wicker. Just over 5,000 bottles of The Vaults 2020 are being released to the public in select markets.

Laws Whiskey House of Denver launched its limitededition Experiential Series Ruby Port Finished Bourbon, adding another expression of Laws’ classic Four Grain Straight Bourbon finished in Ruby Port casks. It is made with 60% corn, 20% heirloom wheat, 10% heirloom rye and 10% heirloom barley. It is aged over three years in new charred American oak barrels, finished in 225-liter Portuguese Ruby Port French Oak Casks for two years, and bottled at 95 proof.

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In addition to its annual release of Barrel Aged Nocino this season, Watershed Distillery of Columbus, Ohio, is debuting its 110.2-proof Nocino Finished Bourbon. The distillery says it is the world’s first-ever bourbon finished in Nocino barrels. Watershed released this in celebration of 10 years of independent distilling.

Chemist Spirits of Asheville, North Carolina, announced the release of 151 Gin. At 151 proof, the distillery claims it is the strongest gin in the U.S. Crafted as a single small-batch during lockdown, this limited release of recession-proof gin is named 151 to reflect not only the extraordinary final proof, but also the opportune location of Chemist Spirits Distillery located at 151 Coxe Avenue in Asheville.

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New Spirits

Minneapolis-based Tattersall Distilling announced the launch of two bottled-in-bond bourbons—100-proof High-Rye Bourbon and Wheated Bourbon. Tattersall says this marks the first bottled-in-bond spirits made in Minnesota since before Prohibition. Both bourbons are made from local grains and have been aged in Minnesota white oak barrels between four and five years. Copperworks Distilling Co. released its 104-proof American Single Malt Whiskey distilled from peated malt that was created with Washington State peat. The peat was sourced from the only peat bog in Washington that can be commercially harvested and was used to add a smoky flavor to the Washington-grown barley malted by Skagit Valley Malting. The malt is the first peated malted barley produced entirely from ingredients sourced in Washington State.

Hawaii’s Koloa Rum Co. has debuted Koloa Kaua’i Cacao Rum in partnership with Kaua’i’s Lydgate Farms. The chocolateflavored rum is 80 proof and incorporates the finest Hawaiian-grown cacao from Lydgate Farms, an award-winning, fifth -generation Kaua’i family farm that is recognized for producing some of the finest chocolates in the world.

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Violet Crown Spirits of Bastrop, Texas, has launched a new way to enjoy the distillery’s Jasmine (40 proof), Elderflower (40 proof) and Midnight Marigold (50 proof) liqueurs in one triplethreat collection: the Texas Wildflower Trio. Featuring all three liqueurs in 200-mL bottles, the Texas Wildflower Trio spirits are handcrafted with locally sourced ingredients and offer a variety of fresh and floral facets of the Texas terroir.

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New Spirits

California-based Rosa Vodka recently released its namesake 80-proof vodka. The base spirit is distilled in Portland, Oregon, from a blend of organic corn and mountain spring water. The vodka is infused with the essence of Bulgarian damascena roses. The aroma leads with boiled corn and additional time in the glass brings out fresh cut rose.

Garrison Brothers Distillery of Hye, Texas, has announced the release of Hye Rye, the company’s first-ever rye-based bourbon. This limited-run, experimental expression is a 98-proof rye bourbon whiskey that pays homage to the deep roots rye whiskey has in American distilling history.

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To celebrate its seventh anniversary, Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Distilling, the producer of Maggie’s Farm Rum, announced the release of both Maggie’s Farm Blueberry Brandy and Pear Brandy. Both of these brandies are 80 proof and distilled from the fermentations of fresh-pressed juices received following harvests in late October. Each finished brandy is a blend of both single and double potdistillations to best preserve the delicate fruit aromas and flavors.

Mad River Distillers of Warren, Vermont, announces the release of 96-proof Mad River Rye Whiskey Finished in Silver Oak Cellars Barrels. The whiskey is a collaboration with Caskforce, a Boston-based retailer that curates cask-finished whiskey, and it marries Mad River’s Revolution Rye with Silver Oak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.

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YOUR SHOT AT GLORY, GLAMOUR AND GOLD 2021 Judging of Craft Spirits ACSA’s 8th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits is open for entries. Enter your products into the ONLY craft judging competition assembled, organized and overseen by you, the distilling community. ACSA’s blind-tasting competition recognizes the best craft spirits in the categories of Vodka/ Grain, Gin, Brandy, Rum, Ready-to-Drink, Whiskey, and Specialty Spirits. Due to COVID-19 we will not be accepting international entries in this year’s competition.

ENTRY FEES

ACSA Members:

Non-Members:

Early Bird (11/20/20-1/1/21):

$200 per spirit

$300 per spirit

Regular (1/2/21-2/28/21):

$250 per spirit

$350 per spirit

Late Riser (3/1/21-3/12/21):

$275 per spirit

$375 per spirit

Registration Deadline: March 12, 2021 Receiving Deadline: March 17, 2021

For more information on how to enter, visit americancraftspirits.org/programs/judging/.

(502) 807-4249 judging@americancraftspirits.org


Imbiber’s Bookshelf

Happy Hour Handbook Release Date: Nov. 26 The Happy Hour Handbook is a compilation of appetizer and cocktail recipes, along with tips and suggestions from bartenders and chefs from some of Denver’s most renowned and beloved spots. All proceeds from this collaborative home bar compendium benefit the contributing bars and restaurants. It was created by a dedicated group of collaborators, determined to produce something beautiful that both celebrates and supports Denver’s independent dining and drinking establishments and the hard-working people behind them. Participating bars and restaurants include: Ace Eat Serve, Brass Tacks, The Family Jones and more. The book can be purchased at happyhrhandbook.com.

The Terroir of Whiskey Author: Rob Arnold Publisher: Columbia University Press Release Date: Dec. 22 In this book, Rob Arnold of TX Whiskey reveals how innovative whiskey producers are recapturing a sense of place to create distinctive, nuanced flavors. He takes readers on a world tour of whiskey and the science of flavor, stopping along the way at distilleries in Kentucky, New York, Texas, Ireland and Scotland. Arnold puts the spotlight on a new generation of distillers, plant breeders and local farmers who are bringing back long-forgotten grain flavors and creating new ones in pursuit of terroir. In the 20th century, we inadvertently bred distinctive tastes out of grains in favor of high yields—but today’s artisans have teamed up to remove themselves from the commodity grain system, resurrect heirloom cereals, bring new varieties to life, and recapture the flavors of specific local ingredients.

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Spotlight: Fiona Arnold After purchasing some books from a crowdfunded publishing campaign to support Australian restaurants, Fiona Arnold wondered if a similar idea would work in Denver. The owner of several bars, Arnold floated the idea to a few people who agreed and built a team to handle writing, recipe testing, editing, photography, social media, design and branding—all at a breathtaking speed to make a big push for holiday and year-end sales to support the participating bars and restaurants. She answered some questions for us over email. The focus is on Denver, but what can people from around the country get out of the book? The book includes a wide variety of recipes and while some are from more local venues, others are from world-class bars such as Death & Co, Cooper Lounge and Williams & Graham. In addition, the book contains super helpful sections on glassware, tools, ice and techniques—written by my business partner Jeffrey Knott— that form the bible on setting up a good home bar and with tips to ensure it can be done without breaking the bank. It is really a quality book that transcends geography. What was it like to work on a project like this with so many creative people on board? It was a big team because we had so much to accomplish in such a short time period and that meant lots of communication and coordination. I had a project manager helping to keep track of everything and everyone, which was key. But in the end, this is a group passionate about the industry. [We are thrilled that we] could do something to help bring a little focus to the industry [that is] fun for the home happy hour enthusiast and puts some hard-to-come-by dollars into the pockets of these venues. As a result, they all brought their intense creativity and energy to the project and made it happen, not just at a quick pace, but to produce a gorgeous book that we’d be proud of if it had taken a year, not just a month. Tell us a little about working with Andi Whiskey, whose photography is stunning. Well you’ve got that right! When the idea came up for the book I knew she was the perfect fit. Her aesthetic is perfect for a book capturing the best of bartenders at work and their stunning creations. While she had done a photo shoot in our bar before (for a barware supplier) I hadn’t worked directly with Andi and she blew me away with her energy and organization, shooting multiple venues a day, really capturing the spirit of the bartenders and delivering the entire portfolio in less than two weeks. I’m not sure I know any other photographer who would have been capable of that. She is passionate about what she does and this industry and it shows in every single photo in the book. What are your favorite recipes from the book and why? Well of course it is one of the Room for Milly cocktails! My Dearest Pike is a complex, exotic, slightly funky cocktail that just evokes so much for me, travel and different cultures but also really represents the bar itself. I’m looking forward to working through the steps to make it at home next!

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Industry Update

CEDAR RIDGE ECLIPSES LARGER BRANDS WITH BEST-SELLING BOURBON IN IOWA On Nov. 3, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division posted the rolling 12-month sales revenue by category and Cedar Ridge Iowa Straight Bourbon Whiskey is now the No. 1 selling 750-mL bourbon in Iowa. This is a milestone for the Swisher, Iowa-based Cedar Ridge Distillery, as it has surpassed Maker’s Mark & Jim Beam as top seller. In a press release, the distillery claims it has become the first craft distiller to produce the No. 1 selling bourbon in any state. “When we started Cedar Ridge, we had no idea we would ever become No. 1 in the state in the huge category of bourbon,” said CEO and founder Jeff Quint. “That said, we’re proud and elated to get there. It’s important to us that we be relevant and successful on our home field, first and foremost. Iowans should be exporting bourbon, not importing it!” Head distiller Murphy Quint added, “Iowans have been in our corner ever since we first opened our doors back in 2005. Without their support, we wouldn’t even be in business, let alone the No. 1 selling bourbon in the state.” For more than a decade, Cedar Ridge has been urging Iowans and fans in neighboring states to recognize the merits of its Iowa Bourbon, which is made from Iowa corn grown on the family farm. “Iowa produces more corn than any state in the country, and most distilled spirits are made from corn. Yet, before Cedar Ridge, we Iowans were importing 100% of the $350 million in distilled spirits we consume each year,” says Jeff. “We were selling $4 worth of corn to other states and then buying back $40 worth of spirits made from our own corn.” For Cedar Ridge, this success has been building for some time. In 2018, after receiving the “Best of Category” straight bourbon award from the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition, the distillery briefly launched an award-winning SORRY KENTUCKY campaign. “It’s just meant to be playful banter,” says marketing manager Anna Servey of the campaign, which takes an apologetic, matter-of-fact tone for the award-winning bourbon. “Once the goal of becoming the No. 1 bourbon was within reach, relaunching SORRY KENTUCKY seemed like just the extra push we needed to get there.” Now, with success in sales catching up with success in competitions, will it mark a shift in the distillery’s approach? Not according to Murphy. “Quantity is a very important factor from a business standpoint,” he says. “We absolutely have numbers to hit and quotas we need to meet. But from a consumer’s point of view, they don’t care if we have 10 barrels or 10 million barrels. They just want the whiskey to be great.” By reaching these milestones, Cedar Ridge has become a shining example for other craft distillers across the country. Is there a lesson here for them?

“It’s not easy and it’s not a quick process, but it is possible,” says Jeff. ”We first have to build a product of amazing quality. We then have to put it in an appealing package. We have to set it up at the right price. Then we have to create effective campaigns to attract the consumer. This all takes time and resources. But the payoff is tremendous when you get it all right.” As more craft distilleries join the market, Cedar Ridge has proven you can generate notoriety regardless of where you’re headquartered. “I think we’ve proven that you can build a successful whiskey brand from anywhere in the world,” says Murphy. “You can create a very traditional product in a not-so-traditional location. Right now, our success might look like a Cinderella story simply because we were the first craft distillery to accomplish this feat. But 5-10 years from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if most states have a craft producer as their No. 1 selling brand.” So now that Cedar Ridge has taken the mantle in its home state, what’s next? Setting sights on becoming Bourbon Capital of the World? “That’s not something that’s on our mind here,” says Murphy. “I’d simply like to see the state of Iowa get recognition as one of the greatest whiskey-producing states. That’s a personal goal of mine.”

TTB APPOINTS DAVID WULF TO DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced the appointment of David M. Wulf to deputy administrator. Wulf joins TTB from the Department of Homeland Security, where he served as associate director of the cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and as the acting deputy assistant secretary for Infrastructure Protection. Wulf started his career in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), where he served in a number of leadership positions, including chief of the Office of Regulatory Affairs, director of the National Center for Explosives Training and Research, and senior counsel for Field Operations. He also served as the acting deputy assistant director of ATF’s Office of Public and Governmental Affairs. Wulf reports to TTB on Jan. 3.

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Industry Update

DURHAM DISTILLERY OPENS CORPSE REVIVER BAR & LOUNGE Durham Distillery co-founders Melissa and Lee Katrincic recently announced the opening of Corpse Reviver Cocktail Bar & Lounge—a natural extension of their award-winning Conniption Gin brand and a dynamic way to bring the brand—and an abundance of gin cocktails— to life in Durham, North Carolina. Located on the ground floor beneath the distillery, Corpse Reviver Bar & Lounge is modeled after the luxe,

LUECK LABEL

modern gin bars of London. Named for both the classic gin cocktail, Corpse Reviver #2—composed of gin, absinthe, Cointreau and lemon juice—and its setting in a former coffin shop, Corpse Reviver is designed to showcase Conniption Gins at their best, in a stylish and luxurious setting punctuated by a modern Art Deco style, polished finishes with attentive, passionate and safe service. “We couldn’t be more excited to finally open our modern gin bar,” said co-founder and CEO Melissa Katrincic in a press release. Melissa and Lee were the first distillers in the American South to be inducted into The Gin Guild, and in 2019 Melissa was chosen by Constellation Brands, Inc. for their Focus on Female Founders strategic investment program. Durham Distillery’s mission to educate about the history, science and craft of gin permeates the bar. “Unlike many bars, we want our guests to fall in love with a gin cocktail at Corpse Reviver and feel a welcoming introduction—rather than intimidation,” said Katrincic. “The menu is designed to foster not just whimsy and passion, but also knowledge.” Therefore, it may come as no surprise that Corpse Reviver’s cocktail menu places a primary focus on gin, with a highlight on Conniption American Dry and Conniption Navy Strength Gin, and their new Conniption Barrel Aged Gin, as well as brands that offer the best expression of a particular style. Specifically, Corpse Reviver specializes in martinis, cocktails on draft, and a curated list of classic gin cocktails.

MONTANYA DISTILLERS ANNOUNCES NEW DIRECTOR OF HR AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

For All Your Label Needs

Montanya Distillers, a craft rum distillery and Certified B Corporation based in Crested Butte, Colorado, has hired Andrea Schumacher to serve as the distillery’s director of human resources and business development. In her new role, Schumacher oversees all the HR operations for Montanya’s 30-plus member team. She will also work to help the company to handle many growth and expansion projects, including •Roll label provider for beers, the ongoing distillery expansion and the addition of new corporate technologies. spirits & wines Schumacher Montanya from Eleven Experience, • Roll label provider for beers, spirits &joins wines •Flexo & Digital roll labels an outdoor experiential travel company, where she worked customized to fit&your needs roll labelsascustomized its global HR to director. There she handled all the recruit• Flexo Digital fit your needs ment, engagement, training and HR consulting with a •Many adhesives, dies, inks, Manytoadhesives, andfrom materials choose from and•materials choose from dies, inks, growth 25 to 450toemployees. Before that, she was a nationally certified paralegal for eight years. “There is no question that Montanya has been experiencing growing pains, and Andrea has already proven herself to be an asset as we create a sustainable and proactive pathway to growth,” said Karen Hoskin, owner/founder of Montanya Distillers. “Our people are the center of our business and they are critical to every project we have underway. Andrea is the bridge to assure we remain innovative and true to our principles along that On A Roll For You path. She’s passionate about social and environmental reSince 1985 sponsibility and helping Montanya with our global expansion. Like all of us, she will be stretching into new areas of 319.363.6371 expertise, but her strong foundation will be crucial to our www.luecklabel.com ongoing success.” sales@luecklabel.com Andrea has lived in Crested Butte since 2003 and loves to mountain bike, hike, ski and play ice hockey.

For All Your Label Needs

On A Roll For You Since 1985 Phone: 319.363.6371

Web: www.luecklabel.com Email: sales@luecklabel.com

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THIS PROOF CAREFULLY • THIS IS YOUR AD PROOF

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Industry Update

CATOCTIN CREEK PARTNERS WITH GWAR ON RAGNAROK RYE WHISKEY Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. of Purcellville, Virginia, is partnering with monster metal rock band GWAR on Ragnarök Rye, a 92-proof rye whisky aged in charred new white oak, then sugar maple and cherrywood. Truly, there is nothing else in the vast universe like the rock band GWAR, and in tribute to the band’s originality as the most elaborate and transgressive theatrical production in heavy metal history, Scott and Becky Harris of Catoctin Creek have made sure there is nothing else like Ragnarök Rye. “Don’t get me wrong, this is an exciting release, but we were quite surprised when GWAR showed up at our distillery,” said founder and general manager, Scott Harris, in a press release. “Purcellville is a quiet town, so to have these intergalactic visitors was—honestly—a little stressful. We had to constantly keep an eye on them to keep them from breaking stuff, and they even tried to eat our dog, Otto. The only way we could get them to leave was to agree to bottle their whisky for them.” Eons ago the members of the intergalactic shock rock band known as GWAR descended on this world as passengers on a flaming comet that would bring about the destruction of most life on Earth. The asteroid plowed into the continent of Antarctica with devastating force, melting the ice, setting much of the world ablaze, and leaving a massive crater filled with the purest Antarctic water and a strangely intoxicating ichor that flowed from the veins of the immortal GWAR. Legend recorded these events as the tale of Ragnarök, the end of days. But like all endings, it was also a beginning. Now, this blood of the gods, harvested from the great caldera, has been distilled and bottled

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by Catoctin Creek as Ragnarök Rye. “Ahh, such a powerful spirit,” says The Berserker Blothar of GWAR. “A delicious sacrament to drink in preparation for battle, and it’ll get you really, really crazy.” The mad scientists at Catoctin Creek conducted experiments on aging the blood of GWAR in barrels made from the different types of wood scorched by the comet’s blast. They used the rarest of grains and watered their mash bill with the melted Antarctic ice to create a 92-strength rye whisky, pot stilled and then aged in charred new white oak.

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Industry Update

FLAVORMAN REVEALS TOP DRINK FLAVOR TRENDS FOR 2021 Experts at the Louisville, Kentucky-based beverage development company, Flavorman, have announced the drink flavor trends to watch for in 2021. Driven by the long-term effects of an on-going pandemic, this year’s forecast is shaping up to be focused on flavors that drive experience in a socially distant landscape. • Flavors That Tingle: Burning, cooling, or otherwise tingling their way across our tongues, drinks with flavors that stimulate unique sensory experiences are set to become more prominent in the coming year.

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“We’ve had a considerable uptick in client requests for flavors that deliver varying degrees and styles of heat, smoke, and spice,” said Tom Gibson, Flavorman’s chief flavorist, in a press release. “But we’ve also seen an increase in requests for flavors with that fresh, cooling rush you’d get from chewing a stick of mint gum.” • Flavors That Comfort: The need for comfort has taken on new meaning, but flavors continue to provide a soothing constant. Staples like grapefruit, lemon and lime will continue to be popular; but there is an opportunity to elevate these familiar profiles by grounding them in specific locations of interest. “Tracing flavors to a specific region creates a transportive experience that helps differentiate an otherwise standard flavor,” said Kristen Wemer, Flavorman’s director of beverage development. “As the market continues to saturate with the usual essentials, consumers can expect more diversity and premiumization through varietals of familiar flavors.” • Flavors That Function: In 2020, Flavorman introduced the concept of “functional plus”—those beverages that provide consumers with a multitude of health and wellness benefits. As the world grapples with a global pandemic, consumers have found ways to take their health into their own hands—and stomachs. Beverages that offer immunity, cognitive and mood-boosting benefits will be especially significant. Expect fragrant flavors like hibiscus, elderflower, and orange blossom to be combined with other berry, botanical, and citrus elements to emphasize functional ingredient blends.

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Industry Update

MIDDLE WEST SPIRITS LAUNCHES ONLINE SHOP Middle West Spirits of Columbus, Ohio, announced the launch of its new online shop, delivering the award-winning craft spirits direct to customers’ doorstep in most states nationwide. The strategic partnership with spirits technology start-up Speakeasy Co. helped Middle West create a seamless online shop at shop.middlewestspirits.com. The new online shop features the craft distiller’s full line of high-proof spirits, including its award-winning Middle West Spirits Whiskeys, OYO Vodkas and Vim & Petal Gin. It also creates exclusive channels for special releases of Middle West’s elevated spirits, which may not be available in every market. Middle West Spirits Bourbon Cream, unveiled recently and just in time for the holidays, is also available via the online shop. In addition, Middle West’s release of its Boilermaker Series, designed in partnership with global brewing powerhouse BrewDog, is available online. Crafted with flavor profiles to be paired with BrewDog beers, Soul of Scarlet Bourbon Whiskey is designed to be served with BrewDog’s Jet Black Heart, while Lucky Find Wheat Whiskey was created as a companion for BrewDog’s Lost Lager. Shipping in the online shop is free with any order of three or more bottles. “We are beyond appreciative of our Ohio customers have supported us wholeheartedly since our products became available 12 years ago,” said Middle West Distillery co-founder Ryan Lang, in a press release. “Until now, customers in other states who wanted to get their hands on Middle West Spirits were typically unable to do so, thanks to draconian liquor laws that differ from state-to-state. Our online shop means that just about everyone can purchase our spirits.” Lang added that craft spirits drinkers—even those who can purchase Middle West at their local liquor store—are thrilled to have the option to purchase products online during a pandemic. He anticipates significant growth across all products as a result of Middle West Spirits new online shop. Complete details on the Ohio-based distiller and the shop are found at middlewestspirits.com.

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lew's bottom shelf

WE CAN BE BETTER BY LEW BRYSON

New Year’s resolutions. We all make them; sometimes we keep them. They represent what we know we should be doing. I make five or six, and if I keep one, make it part of my life, I figure I’m doing okay. In that spirit, I humbly present a dozen resolutions for the craft spirits industry. No one needs all of them. Maybe you’re already squeaky-clean green, or paying living wages with benefits. That’s great, but if you’re doing that, you’re ready to do more. You know you want to. These are all things that will pay for themselves … somehow. There may not be an actual ROI, and as my wife, the scientist, says, if you can’t measure it, it didn’t happen. But, for instance, better wages mean attracting better employees, and keeping them. That’s hard to quantify, but it’s real. Best of all, it does good for the industry. The more you do these things, the more craft distillers become good citizens. That means easier license approvals, more access to capital, more press, and yes, more sales. Eventually. The tide will rise, and our boats will all float higher. Or we’ll get bigger boats. Whatever floats your boat. Here’s the list.

assists in hiring people with prior criminal convictions. Contact them, make some hires, save some lives. 4. Acknowledge alcoholism. Get serious about supporting responsible drinking. Enable your servers to politely, firmly stop serving guests. Jeffrey Morgenthaler has some good suggestions on his website. Do something about it today. 5. GET VACCINATED. It’s not about business, or politics. It’s about clawing back to normal. 6. Pay a living wage. Or at least the best you possibly can. Find a way to offer benefits, or better benefits. Otherwise, you won’t get—or keep—the best people. Just that simple. 7. Engage your community. You made friends and connections by making hand sanitizer? Keep working with those people! Find ways to work together on projects beyond simple fundraisers. Clean up a stream; work at a Boys & Girls Club; help vets find apartments.

12. Walk the walk. See all those things above? None of them mean a thing if you’re doing the minimum, or talking about doing it without really diving in. Find the joy in making things better. Measure the value of your life by how many people’s lives you made better.

8. Make something new. I know, you do that. But not a wheated bourbon in addition to your rye bourbon. Get outside what you usually do. Make an amaro or crème de violette to go in your cocktails. Make it smoky. Make aquavit! “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.”

2. Embrace diversity. Diversity is tricky. You can make diverse hires, but you also need to ensure that they have an equal chance to succeed. Hire, mentor, promote. The only way diversity works is if the owners believe in it. Otherwise, you’re just ticking boxes. Learn why it works, own it and do it.

9. Get educated. Take some courses, find out what’s going on inside the fermenter, learn how to weld, get design savvy, get trained on your software. Send your staff to the ACSA convention. Get ahead of the smarts curve!

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lose. Difference is craft distilling’s strength; embrace it. 11. Stop lying. Check your labels, your marketing, your tour script, your story and wring every bit of bullshit out of them. You don’t need it. Make good booze with good ingredients and processes and people, and tell that story. Be serious, be funny, but damn it, be honest. It’s always best. Always.

1. Get greener. Tune up your boiler, use less water (fix the leaky toilet!), use motionactivated LED lighting, look into ISO 14001 certification. Use more recycled materials, stop flushing waste into the sewer, work with suppliers on reducing packaging. Do one thing or a lot, but do it.

3. Ban the box. That’s the “Do you have a criminal record” checkbox on your job application. There IS an organization in your area, your state, that encourages and

The tide will rise, and our boats will all float higher. Or we’ll get bigger boats.

10. Work with the industry. I know I keep hammering on this, but truly, cooperation is the way to win. Lobby together, plan together, co-market, cooperate on press events, create a tourism trail together. If you’re trashing other distillers, you all

Do you want to increase sales? Make more money? That’s great, but … who doesn’t? Resolutions are about the good things. Don’t say you can’t afford to do the good things you want to do. Do what you can. Affording it will come. No argument: 2020 sucked. Do what you can to make 2021 better. Happy New Year! ■

Lew Bryson has been writing about beer and spirits full-time since 1995. He is the author of “Tasting Whiskey” and “Whiskey Master Class.”

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WHAT’s Stirring

DRINKS TO SAVOR FROM ACSA MEMBERS The Iron Fish Winter Light Cocktail This warm, inviting drink from Iron Fish Distillery in Thompsonville, Michigan, is a nod to the unexpected delight and dramatic beauty of light reflecting on snow in the winter. The floral brightness of the Michigan Woodland Gin, paired with high quality Earl Grey tea and lavender simple syrup create a soul satisfying, cozy drink that leaves you wishing winter would last just a wee bit longer. Ingredients 2 ounces Iron Fish Michigan Woodland Gin 1 ounce lavender simple syrup Earl Grey Tea 1/2 to 1 ounce half and half (Optional) Sprig of lavender Sugar Garnish: lavender sugar rim Directions Sugar the rim of a large coffee mug. Pour in gin, lavender syrup and hot tea, stir well. Top with cream if desired. For the Lavender Simple Syrup Warm simple syrup (2 quarts 1:1 water and white sugar) to almost boiling. Remove from heat and add 1 1/4 cups dried culinary lavender blossoms, cover and let steep for 2-3 hours. Use a mesh strainer to remove lavender flowers, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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Basildon Collins Royal Foundry Craft Spirits of Minneapolis strives to make all of its cocktails with a British theme or tie-in. The inspiration for the Basildon Collins is that it contains basil and the British band Depeche Mode hails from Basildon. Ingredients 50 mL Royal Foundry Marlow Rows Gin 25 mL basilberry simple syrup 25 mL cranberry juice 15 mL lime juice Directions Combine ingredients in a shaker, add ice. Shake for 30 seconds. Pour into Collins glass, top with soda water (the distillery recommends Fever Tree). Garnish with cranberries and basil. For the Basilberry Simple Syrup Combine 750 mL water, 375 grams of sugar, 18 grams of fresh basil and 95 grams of fresh or frozen raspberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let cool, then put into a sealed container and let sit in the fridge overnight. Strain out basil and raspberries. Store in the fridge.

Mulled Fashioned In this elevated twist on the seasonal classic, the familiar mulling spices are present in the rich, spicy wine syrup. A few drops of cardamom bitters tie everything together while the Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey takes the starring role in this seasonal Old Fashioned created by Rachel Ramirez. Ingredients 1 1/2 ounces Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey 1/2 ounces Amaro Montenegro .75 ounces mulled wine syrup 4 drops Fee’s Cardamom Bitters Directions In a large saucepan, add red wine, spices and orange slices. Bring to a light simmer, stir in maple syrup and continue to warm on medium-low

heat. Gently stir in the Tennessee Whiskey and remove from heat. Fine strain to remove spices and orange. Serve warm, garnished with additional cinnamon and star anise. For the Mulled Wine Syrup In a large saucepan, add 3 cups of red wine, 6 cinnamon sticks, 12 whole cloves, 4 star anise, a pinch of black peppercorn and the slices of one orange. Bring to a light boil and stir in 2 cups granulated sugar. Continue to boil until the mixture reduces by one-fourth. When the sugar is dissolved and the syrup coats the back of a spoon, turn off the heat and stir in 4 tbsp maple syrup and 2 tbsp lemon juice. Fine strain and allow to cool before covering. Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.


Is It Summer Yet? Chai This cocktail from Whistling Andy Distillery in Bigfork, Montana, is perfect for the frigid nights ahead until the weather turns warmer. Ingredients 1 1/2 ounces Hibiscus Coconut Rum 5-6 ounces steamed milk 3 bar spoons of chai mix Directions Prepare and heat your favorite chai tea with milk. Add Hibiscus Coconut Rum in your favorite mug. Relax and enjoy.

Captain’s Remedy This drink from Chemist Spirits features bright notes that play on the exotic flavors of the Chemist Navy Strength Gin. The amaro, citrus and bitters perfectly balance the ginger and Spanish orange from the spirit to craft a delightfully uplifting and delicious cocktail. Ingredients 1 1/2 ounce Chemist Navy Strength Gin 1/2 ounce Ramazzotti 3/4 ounce lemon 1/2 ounce grenadine Dash of Angostura bitters 2 dashes of cardamom bitters Instructions Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain in a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon peel.


The Whiskey Sourwood A distillery favorite this holiday season at Chemist Spirits in Asheville, North Carolina, this cocktail features the new Founder’s Reserve Whiskey and a Sourwood Honey Syrup made from the nectar collected from Chemist founder Debbie Word’s own apiary in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rich notes of fig, oak, vanilla and spice combine with sweet honey and bright citrus to produce a uniquely invigorating twist on a classic. Ingredients 2 ounces Chemist Founder’s Reserve Whiskey 3/4 ounces lemon juice 3/4 oz sourwood honey syrup Vanilla-infused fig foam Brandied fig Directions Combine whiskey, lemon and syrup into a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a martini glass and top with vanilla infused fig foam. Garnish with a brandied fig. For the Sourwood Honey Syrup Combine 1 cup of sourwood honey and 1 cup of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 6-8 weeks. For the Vanilla-infused Fig Foam Quarter 1 cup of dried Mission Figs and add to an airtight, quart-size container. Combine 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot mixture over your dried figs in the airtight container. Allow to sit for at least 3 hours. After the ingredients have been sitting, add the figs and syrup to a blender and blend on high until smooth. Pour the blended mixture into cheesecloth and strain out any rough pieces. In a whip cream charger, add 4 ounces finished fig syrup, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, a bar spoonful of vanilla extract and 2 egg whites. After combining all the ingredients into the charger, close the lid tight and shake a few times to blend. Charge your canister with N2O chargers and your foam is complete. For the Brandied Figs Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add in 1 cup of Dried Figs (halved). Reduce liquid by about half and remove from heat. Once cooled transfer to an airtight container. Add 1⁄2 cup of brandy and allow to sit for at least an hour.

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ACSA Affairs

LONG-TERM FET REFORM PASSES IN CONGRESS, MOVES TO PRESIDENT The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA), which grants permanent federal excise tax (FET) relief to craft spirits producers, passed the U.S. House and Senate in late December as part of an omnibus and stimulus package. At the time of publication of this issue, the President had yet

to sign the bill and was criticizing parts of the legislation unrelated to CBMTRA. Acceptance by the President is outstanding and could at least temporarily jeopardize the reduction. CBMTRA would give the country’s 2,200 craft spirits producers much-needed, permanent tax relief and parity with their counterparts in

beer and wine, who have enjoyed lower rates for many years. In addition to the hardships the industry faces as it crawls back from distillery closures due to COVID, distillers face a 400% tax hike come Jan. 1, 2021, without legislation. Since 2011, craft spirits producers across the U.S. have rallied together in an effort to push forward long-term FET relief, and it is clear that this grassroots storytelling effort is working. Over the past five years, the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) has facilitated thousands of meetings with Members of Congress and their staffers. Even amid a COVID-19 shutdown, ACSA brought 150 craft spirits producers and the entire Board of Directors and Past Presidents to the Hill virtually to share their stories. “We applaud Congress for moving forward and passing this critical piece of legislation— a lifeline for our already crippled industry due to COVID-19 closures,” said Margie A.S. Lehrman, CEO of ACSA. “We are cautiously optimistic that permanent FET reform is just around the corner. We have promised not to stop until our industry receives permanent, long-term reform, and that remains the case as we await further news.”

FOR THE LATEST UPDATES ON FET REFORM, VISIT CRAFTSPIRITSMAG.COM.

TTB ANNOUNCES EXTENSION OF HAND SANITIZER GUIDANCE The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) this December announced an extension of its hand sanitizer guidance through June 30, 2021. Per TTB: “To provide continued flexibilities for industry members due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are extending the authorizations provided in TTB G 2020-1A through June 30, 2021. “In addition, we are updating this guidance to authorize the use of the additional formulas specified in current FDA guidance for the manufacture of hand sanitizer and denatured alcohol for use in hand sanitizer without first obtaining formula approval from TTB. Any hand sanitizer or denatured alcohol for use in hand sanitizer produced in accordance with

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FDA guidance in effect as of the issue date of this guidance may be removed tax-free from a distilled spirits plant. This updated guidance is redesignated as TTB G 2020-1B.” The extension from TTB came soon after the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (DOT-PHMSA) granted an extension of enforcement discretion for the transport of hand sanitizer mainly to help those who wish to deplete stock. More specifically, PHMSA gives notice that it will not take enforcement action against any offeror or carrier who offers or transports hand sanitizers manufactured and packaged prior to October 31, 2020, and in accordance with the April 10, 2020 “Temporary Policy for the Transportation of Certain

Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19)” and the June 24, 2020 notice which extended the relief until October 31, 2020, and expanded it to include transportation by rail. Per the text of the FDA temporary policy, authorization for manufacture of the WHO formula would last for the duration of the public health emergency, including any renewals. If you are planning to continue producing sanitizer, ACSA recommends that your distillery initiate a New Drug Application through the normal FDA registration process for OTC drugs. For more COVID-19-related issues please visit americancraftspirits.org, and please direct questions to sanitizer@americancraftspirits.org.

C R AF T S PI R I T S MAG .CO M


ACSA, CRAFT SPIRITS MAGAZINE UNVEIL THE CRAFT SPIRITS PODCAST The American Craft Spirits Association and CRAFT SPIRITS magazine in December launched The Craft Spirits Podcast, a bimonthly program featuring in-depth conversations with distillers and craft spirits visionaries. Editor in chief Jeff Cioletti and senior editor Jon Page serve as co-hosts of the podcast. Becky Harris of Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. was the first guest, followed by P.T. Wood of Wood’s High Mountain Distillery in Salida, Colorado. Future guests include Jeff Kanof of Copperworks Distilling Co. in Seattle and Amber Pollock of Backwards Distilling Co. in Wyoming. Harris, who spoke to Cioletti for the first episode, is the president and chief distiller at Catoctin Creek and president of the American Craft Spirits Association. She is a chemical engineer who brought her expertise in industrial processes and production to distilling when she and her husband Scott Harris founded Catoctin Creek in 2009 in Purcellville, Virginia. In the first episode, she discusses permanent federal excise tax relief

and the challenging year ahead for distillers already impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wood is the co-founder of Wood’s High Mountain Distillery, the vice president of ACSA and the mayor of Salida. The second episode includes an interview conducted by Page at the distillery prior to the U.S. outbreak of COVID-19, and a more recent phone inter-

view. Over the course of both conversations, Wood discusses running for public office and talks about the early days of founding the distillery with his brother, Lee. Listeners can stream each episode on craftspiritsmag.com or subscribe via Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud or Spotify.

ACSA’S JUDGING OF CRAFT SPIRITS NOW OPEN FOR ENTRIES ACSA is thrilled to announce that its 8th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits is now open for entries! ACSA takes great pride in conducting a rigorously professional judging program that recognizes the best craft spirits in the categories of Vodka/Grain, Gin, Brandy, Rum, Readyto-Drink, Whiskey, and Specialty Spirits. To ensure the health and safety of everyone involved, judging of spirits will take place remotely. And to ensure that this installment is held to the same professional standard as previous competitions, special arrangements are in place. All entered spirits will be stored in a locked room at Cardinal Sprits that is limited to the ACSA Judging Board, stewards and relevant ACSA and Cardinal Spirits staff. After the receiving deadline, the team will prepare tasting kits and packages that will be shipped to each judge. Spirits will be poured into clean vials that have been protected from any aroma/taint potential. Judging will take place remotely from April 15-23, 2021. As always, the competition is open to all producers of craft spirits in the United States. Due to COVID-19, however, ACSA will not accept international entries this year. To learn more and to enter visit americancraftspirits.org.

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DRESSED FOR SUCCESS T H E C R A F T S P I R I T S P A C K A G I N G AWA R D S SPONSORED BY THE GLASS PACKAGING INSTITUTE

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C R AF T S PI R I T S MAG .CO M


W

e realize that many craft spirits producers put just as much thought into what’s on their bottles and cans as what’s in the bottles and cans. To help celebrate the best in craft spirits labels and packaging, the American Craft Spirits Association and CRAFT SPIRITS magazine are proud to present the Craft Spirits Packaging Awards. The inaugural competition, which celebrates excellence and creativity in the design of craft spirits labels and packaging, drew more than 200 entries from more than 100 companies.

[ JUDGING CRITERIA ] Judging for the Craft Spirits Packaging Awards took place virtually in late November and early December, with an esteemed panel of judges evaluating each entry on the following criteria.

A E ST H E T I C S : How does the packaging appeal to you from a design/artistic perspective? I N N OVAT I O N : How original is the design? Does it stand out on a shelf? E M OT I O N A L A P P E A L : How does the packaging make you feel? Does it connect with you? B R A N D C O M M U N I C AT I O N : How well does the packaging tell the story of the brand/ product through visual/design/copy elements?

The packages that rated highly on all of those criteria are the ones that connect with consumers and drive trial and sales, even when those consumers have not previously encountered your products.

[ MEET THE JUDGES ]

Lia Jones is a Belizean American, born in New York City, with two decades of hospitality industry experience. She has a diploma from the International Culinary Center, is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, and is completing the WSET Level 4 diploma program.

Robb Jones is the co-owner of Meteor, a cocktail bar in North Minneapolis. A 20-year veteran of the hospitality industry, he’s traveled to distilleries all over the world and believes experiences are the most valuable means of learning. He’s a BAR-5 day graduate and two-time CAP at Tales of the Cocktail.

Andrew Kaplan is a freelance writer based in New York City. He was managing editor of Beverage World magazine for 14 years and has worked for a variety of other food and beverage-related publications, and also newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @andrewkap.

Elliot Manthey has been working behind the bar in Minneapolis for 10 years. A Twin Cities native who quickly embraced the restaurant industry, first as a wait assistant, then a bartender, Elliot ran the bar program at Minneapolis’ renowned Spoon and Stable for five years. He now owns Meteor, a casual cocktail bar in North Minneapolis.

John Oliver is the trade marketing director for emerging/craft brands at Breakthru Beverage Group. He has been in the industry for 15-plus years, working on both the supplier and distributor ends of the business with companies such as Moet Hennessy USA, R&R Marketing/Charmer-Sunbelt Group and more.

Michelle Villas is an art director with more than 20 years experience. After spending 16 years working on magazines in New York, Michelle moved to California where she is the creative director on a range of publications for The Golden State Company. A true typophile, she carries her obsession with fonts into every project.

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Jeanine Leech is a Pittsburghbased award-winning senior graphic designer and photographer with over 30 years of experience. Jeanine’s clients include Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rik Emmett and the Pittsburgh Penguins, and she is the author of “Magic Light and the Dynamic Landscape.”

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[ BEST IN SHOW ]

B R O O K LY N G I N Brooklyn Gin Brooklyn, New York Brooklyn Gin was created with Brooklyn at its forefront. Taking inspiration from traditional apothecary bottles and the Brooklyn Bridge, the bottle was designed to reflect quality both inside and out. The custom bottle features a bespoke Kings County medallion and it was purposely designed with a bottle cap to stamp ice.

[ FROM THE JUDGES ] “This is the gold standard of craft gin packages. It’s been around for many years and still stands out amongst a crowded gin category. The detail on the art deco bottle design and the manhole cover logo all tie nicely back to the brand’s NYC history and locale.”

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C R AF T S PI R I T S MAG .CO M


[ PORTFOLIO ]

PACKAGING AWA R D S

PACKAGING AWA R D S

2020

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T H E FA M I LY J O N E S Denver Design by Consume & Create and Susan Orr; entered by TapiUSA

[ FROM THE JUDGES ]

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“The PACK A Ghand I N Gimagery on each bottle isP A C K A G I N G A WaAunique R D S touch—it simultaneously AWA R D S 2gives 0 2 0an opportunity to differentiate 2020 between each item, while still having a cohesive look across the entire product line. There’s a cleverness to the products having people’s names that you can then connect to the hands. The copper metallic detail on the label and cap adds an extra P A C K A G I N G PACKAGING PACKAGING PACKAGING AWA R D S WA R D S AWA R D S AWA R D S element of Ainterest.” 2020 2020 2020

2020

P A C K A G I N GP A C K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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P A C K A G I N GP A C K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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C O R S A I R D I ST I L L E RY

I R O N F I S H D I ST I L L E RY

Nashville, Tennessee

Thompsonville, Michigan

Design by Murmur Creative; bottle manufactured by Saverglass

Design by Iron Fish Distillery and Brand Tonic

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[ RUM ]

PACKAGING AWA R D S

P A C K A G IPNAGC K A G I N G AWA R D SAWA R D S

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PACKAGING AWA R D S

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P A C K A G IPNAGC K A G I N G AWA R D SAWA R D S

P A C K A2 0G 2 0I N 2G 020 AWA R D S

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TO U C H E 8 Y E A R S OLD RUM

PACKAGING AWA R D S Burl & Sprig

PACKAGING AWA R D S

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E S E N C I A B A R R E L AG E D SPICED RUM

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PA PACKAGIN GC K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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PA PACKAGIN GC K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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M I G R AT I O N 23 Y E A R S OLD RUM Burl & Sprig

PACKAGING AWA R D S

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Muskegon, Michigan

Muskegon, Michigan

Design by Studio One Eleven, Berlin Packaging’s Design and Innovation P A C Division KAGING PA C K A G IP NAGC K A G I N G

Design by Studio One Eleven, Berlin Packaging’s Design and InnovationP ADivision CKAGING

AWA R D S

AWA R D S AWA R D S

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Artwork by Greg Bromley

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PA C K A G IP NAGC K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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P A C K A G IPNAGC K A G I N G AWA R D SAWA R D S

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PA PACKAGIN GC K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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AWA R D S

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Burl & Sprig Muskegon, Michigan Design by Studio One Eleven, Berlin Packaging’s Design and Innovation Division

PA C K A G IP NAGC K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

2020

2020

Artwork by Iain Macarthur

[ FROM THE JUDGES ]

F R I GAT E R E S E R V E R U M

PURE SINGLE RUM

“Eye catching illustration and love the way the label is wrapping around the bottle. Bottle has clean lines and a nice heavy feel.”

Frigate Reserve Rum

Ninefold Distillery

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Dalton, Scotland

Design by CF Napa Brand Design

Design by Contagious

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[ VODKA ]

PACKAGING AWA R D S

PACKAGING AWA R D S

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BANYAN RESERVE VODKA St. Petersburg Distillery St. Petersburg, Florida Design by St. Petersburg Distillery and Dunn & Co.

PACKAGING AWA R D S

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P A C K A GPI A NC GK A G I N G A W A R D SA W A R D S

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P A C K A GPI A NC GK A G I N G A W A R D SA W A R D S

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P A C K A GPI A NC GK A G I N G A W A R D SA W A R D S

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P A C K A G IPNAGC K A G I N G A W A R D SA W A R D S

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P A C K A G IPNAGC K A G I N G A W A R D SA W A R D S

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P A C K A G IPNAGC K A G I N G A W A R D SA W A R D S

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P A C [K F AR GO I NMG T H E J U D G E S P] A C K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S 2“Beautiful 0 2 0 artwork on the front label 2020 and description info on the back label PA P AaC standard KAGING bottle shape PACKAGIN GC K A G I N G helps elevate PACKAGING AWA R D S AWA R D S AWA R D S AWA R D S in our industry.” 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2020 2020

PA PACKAGIN GC K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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PA PACKAGIN GC K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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B LO O D SW E AT T E A R S VO D K A

H A R R I DA N H A N D C R A F T E D VO D K A

Wolf Spirits Distillery

Harridan Vodka, Inc.

Eugene, Oregon

New York, New York

Design agency: Moxie Sozo; brand owner: Umberto Luchini; entered by Deussen Global Communications

Design by Teddy Mathias

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PACKAGING AWA R D S

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D U F F Y ’ S R U N VO D K A Restless Spirits Distilling Co. North Kansas City, Missouri Design by Whiskey Design (Matt Wegerer, creative director); labels prepared by Phenix Label

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[ RTD ]

PACKAGING AWA R D S

G I N & TO N I C

2020

Social Hour Cocktails Brooklyn, New York Design by EBBING Branding + Design

[ FROM THE JUDGES ]

PACKAGING AWA R D S

2020

PACKAGING AWA R D S

2020

PACKAGING AWA R D S

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AU TO M AT I C J O N E S R O C K & RY E

PAC K AP GA IN CG KAGING A W A R DASW A R D S

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PAC K AP GA IN CG KAGING A W A R DASW A R D S

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PAC K AP GA IN CG KAGING A W A R DASW A R D S

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P A C K A GPIANCGK A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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P A C K A GPIANCGK A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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PA PACKAGIN GC K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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P A C K A GPIANCGK A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

2020

“Typography sets the tone and matches perfectly with the bright citrus color palette and the style of the illustrations. Feels fun and refreshPACKAGING ing. … Four-pack box is unique versus A W A R D S PA C K A G I Nas G it is cut so you P A C Kcan A G I Nsee G P A C Kother AGIN G packs 2 0 2 0 P AACWKAARGDI SN G AWA R D S AWA R D S AWA R D S the decorative sides of the cans.” 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2020 2020

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PA PACKAGIN GC K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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M A R GA R I TA

The Family Jones

Fling Craft Cocktails | Boulevard Brewing Co.

Denver

Kansas City, Missouri

Design by Consume & Create and Susan Orr

Design by Whiskey Design

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2020

2020

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PACKAGING AWA R D S

PACKAGING AWA R D S

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BOTANICAL GIN AND TONIC Fling Craft Cocktails | Boulevard Brewing Co. Kansas City, Missouri Design by Whiskey Design

C R AF T S PI R I T S MAG .CO M


PACKAGING AWA R D S

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[ GIN ]

PACKAGING AWA R D S

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2020 Port of Leith Distillery

2020

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B R O O K LY N G I N

Brooklyn, New York

[ FROM THE JUDGES ] “Nice apothecary inspired blue-green bottle. Ice stamp in the cap is incredibly innovative.”

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PACKAGING AWA R D S

AWA R D S

Design by Contagious

Brooklyn Gin

P

PACKAGING AWA R D S

L I N D P&ALCI K MAEGGI N I NG

Edinburgh, Scotland

P

JUNIPER GROVE ALPINE GIN Bently Heritage Estate Distillery Minden, Nevada Design by AETHER NY; custom bottle manufactured by Pavisa; custom closure by NimbleJack

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PACKAGING AWA R D S

PACKAGING AWA R D S

PA AC CK KA AG G II N NG G P A C KP AG NAG A IW RDS A W A RADW SA R D S

PA AC CK KA AG G II N NG G P A AW WA AR RD DS S

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PA AC CK KA AG G II N NG G P A C KP AG NAG A IW RDS A W A RADW SA R D S

PA AC CK KA AG G II N NG G P AW WA AR RD DS S A

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[ WHISKEY ]

PACKAGING AWA R D S

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PACKAGING AWA R D S

PACKAGING High Bank Distillery A W A R D S

Columbus, Ohio

2020

Design byP AAdam C K A G I Hines NG AWA R D S

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PACKAGING AWA R D S

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W H I S K E Y WA R BARREL SELECT PACKAGING AWA R D S

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PA C K A CN KG AG G II N NG G P A C KP AA G A IW ARDS A W A RADW SA R D S

PA AC CK KA AG G II N NG G P AW WA AR RD DS S A

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O R GA N I C G I A N TS O F THE EARTH BOURBON W H I S KPEAYC K A G I N G AWA R D S Rockfilter Distillery 2020

Spring Grove, Minnesota KG AGING P A C KP AA GCI N A W A RADW SA R D S

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KG AGING P A C KP AA GCI N A W A RADW SA R D S

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KG AGING P A C KP AA GCI N A W A RADW SA R D S

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Design by Werner Design Werks 2 0 2 0 2020

O R GA N I C R E D R I D E R RY E WHISKEY Rockfilter Distillery

2020 2020

Spring Grove, Minnesota Design by Werner Design Werks

[ FROM THE JUDGES ] “Celebrates the rural nature of whiskey production. … Clean, modern typography is offset nicely by the vintage feel of the image. Nice touch with the batch information on the side.”

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FORDHAM LEE BOURBON WHISKEY

F O U R G R A I N ST R A I G H T BOURBON WHISKEY

Fordham Lee Distillery

Black Button Distilling

Middletown, Maryland

Rochester, New York

Design by CF Napa Brand Design

Design by Lauralee Végvári

C R AF T S PI R I T S MAG .CO M


PACKAGING AWA R D S

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[ WHISKEY ]

THREE CHORD W H I S K E Y DRUMMER

A-O COME HELL OR HIGH WAT E R O R E G O N S I N G L E M A LT W H I S K Y

Steel Bending Spirits

Pilot House Distilling

Clarence, New York

Astoria, Oregon PACKAGING AWA R D S

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CG KAGING P A C K A PGAI N A W A R DASW A R D S

2 0 2 0 & Design Design by Amy Bornstein 2 0 2 0 Photo

CG KAGING P A C K A PGAI N A W A R DASW A R D S

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CG KAGING P A C K A PGAI N A W A R DASW A R D S

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PACKAGING AWA R D S

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Three Chord label and logo design P A C K Aby G I NCF G AWA R D S Napa Brand Design; Whiskey Drummer picture 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2020 design by Richard Christian; label by Jim Charlier of JCharlier Communication Design

P A C K A GPI A NCGK A G I N G A W A R D SA W A R D S

P A C K A GPI A NCGK A G I N G A W A R D SA W A R D S

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P A C K A GPI A NCGK A G I N G A W A R D SA W A R D S

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I R O N F I S H RY E WHISKEY

G U L LY TOW N S I N G L E M A LT W H I S K E Y

Iron Fish Distillery

Restless Spirits Distilling Co.

Thompsonville, Michigan

North Kansas City, Missouri

Illustration by Dani Knoph

Design by Whiskey Design (Matt Wegerer, creative director); labels prepared by Phenix Label

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O R GA N I C F E N C E JUMPER BOURBON WHISKEY Rockfilter Distillery Spring Grove, Minnesota Design by Werner Design Werks

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[ S P E C I A LT Y S P I R I T S ]

PACKAGING AWA R D S

R OY ’ S D E M O N BARLEY SHOCHU

2020

American Shochu Co. Frederick, Maryland Art and package design by Takayuki Grayson Amano, Apocrypha Art

[ FROM THE JUDGES ]

PACKAGING AWA R D S

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CG KAGING P A C K AP GAI N A W A R DASW A R D S

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CG KAGING P A C K AP GAI N A W A R DASW A R D S

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MILK CAN ORIGINAL MOONSHINE

Backwards Distilling Co.

Backwards Distilling Co.

Mills, Wyoming

Mills, Wyoming

Design by Ignite Beverage Branding

Design by Ignite Beverage Branding

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PACKAGIN PA GC K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

MILK CAN CINNAMON MOONSHINE

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PACKAGIN PA GC K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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CG KAGING P A C K AP GAI N A W A R DASW A R D S

2020

“This package just defines what a craft spirit should be. It is innovative, PACKAGING AWA R D S beautifully designed and conveys a PACKAGIN PA GC K A G I N G P A C K A G I NPGA C K A G I N G A W A R Dstory S A W Athat R D S is engaging.” personal 2 0 2 0P AACWKAARGDI SN G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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P A C K A G I NPGA C K A G I N G AWA R D S AWA R D S

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HECATE COFFEE LIQUEUR Bently Heritage Estate Distillery Minden, Nevada Illustration by Paula Schultz; bottle manufactured by Vetroelite; additional design elements by AETHER NY

C R AF T S PI R I T S MAG .CO M


THE G LAS S PAC K AGI NG I N S T IT UTE congratulates the winners of the Inaugural

Craft Spirits Packaging Awards and salutes the American Craft Spirits Industry.

C H E E R S !

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Spirits distillers take pride in

their craft, and North American glass manufacturers take pride in making premium sustainable packaging for their product. #ChooseGlass To learn more about our work at GPI, visit www.gpi.org


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History in a Bottle Distillers Revive Pre-Prohibition Distilleries and Spirits Brands BY JON PAGE

Brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson (opposite) revived their great-great-great grandfather’s whiskey business.

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he story almost seems too good to be true, like it was dreamed up by a novelist or a screenwriter over a bottle of whiskey: A father and his two adult sons drive to visit a butcher in a small town where the sons’ great-great-great grandfather once operated a distillery. They find a historical marker for the distillery and the butcher points them toward a nearby barrel warehouse and a natural spring once maintained by the distillery. After exploring the grounds, the brothers visit the town’s historical society where they first see two bottles of century-old whiskey with their name on it, setting in motion their destiny to revive the family business. Incredible as it may sound, that is the true story of how brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson brought Charles Nelson’s whiskey business back to life. After that fortuitous 2006 visit to the butcher in Greenbrier, Tennessee, they planned, researched and revived Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery and began making the original recipe to Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey.

“That galvanizing moment was when we saw the original bottles of Tennessee whiskey with our name on it,” says Andy Nelson. “That’s what we’re here to do.” The Nelson brothers are far from alone. Across the nation, a new generation of distillers are resurrecting pre-Prohibition spirits companies and brands. Like Nelson’s Green Brier, some are direct descendants of the original distillers, such as Andy Rieger, the president of J. Rieger & Co. in Kansas City, Missouri, and Corky and Carson Taylor of Louisville-based Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. Others, like Indianapolis-based West Fork Whiskey and Southern Distilling Co. of Statesville, North Carolina, are honoring the heritage of whiskey making in their region with releases of preProhibition brands like Old Hamer Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Hunting Creek Rye, respectively. And then there is the incomparable Nearest Green Distillery in Shelbyville, Tennessee, which honors the memory of Nathan “Nearest” Green, the former slave and first known Black master distiller, who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey.

“That galvanizing moment was when we saw the original bottles of Tennessee whiskey with our name on it. That’s what we’re here to do.” —Andy Nelson of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery

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Constellation Brands, through its venture capital group, now owns a majority stake in Nashville-based Nelson’s Green Brier, and the distillery recently became the second alumni member of the American Craft Spirits Association. Andy and Charlie Nelson continue to operate the distillery and the memory of Charles Nelson is omnipresent. A blown-up version of his obituary hangs on a wall in the tasting room. The recipe for the original Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey was pieced together from researching old publications, and the Nelsons also revived Belle Meade Bourbon, which was one of roughly 30 labels that Charles Nelson produced in the late 1800s. The distillery also pays tribute to Charles’ wife, Louisa, who ran the distillery after his death. The still is named after her and a mural featuring her overlooks the production floor. The distillery also released a new product, Louisa’s Liqueur, in her honor. And through the Louisa Nelson Awards, the distillery each year recognizes the achievement, vision and inspiration of three women leaders from Nashville’s business and cultural communities. “Because she ran the thing and did great herself, [that] lit a fire under us to highlight her history a lot more and bring her more to the forefront because of how forgotten she has been by history,” says Andy Nelson.  It has been easier to recreate the look of existing products, Nelson says, because so many labels and bottles are still in existence. “We saw original bottles. We saw advertise-

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Ryan Maybee, Nathan Perry and Andy Rieger of J. Rieger & Co.

ments,” he says. “They were the easy parts because it’s not as mentally or emotionally draining as trying to raise money and constantly being told no. it’s just a matter of going into archives and libraries and places where you’re looking for historical documents.” Andy Rieger was flooded with J. Rieger & Co. memorabilla soon after he revived his family business along with bartender Ryan Maybee. Bottles, labels, marketing materials and shot glasses surfaced, and are so ubiquitous even now that a recent search on eBay showed many old J. Rieger items up for auction. Rieger says his most prized findings include a ledger and a balance sheet from the distillery, which started in the 1880s and thrived until Prohibition. When it comes to reviving an existing distillery or brand, Rieger believes a genuine approach is key. “You have to be authentic,” he says. “As soon as you deviate you’re not being true to yourself.” That sentiment is echoed by Fawn Weaver, the CEO and founder of Uncle Nearest, Inc. In an effort to learn more about Green, Weaver led a team of 20 journalists, historians, archivists, archaeologists, conservators and genealogists who logged more than 2,500 hours of research to uncover 10,000 original artifacts and documents. Green’s story and the Uncle Nearest

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brand, says Weaver, is the kind of lightning-in-abottle tale that can’t be replicated “A lot of people start with the juice and they end up making up a story or fabricating a story or embellishing a story because that’s what our industry does,” says Weaver. “I think a part of why people have resonated with this—no matter their background, no matter their race, no matter where they’re born … is that it was a truly authentic story that we could back up.” Uncle Nearest, which plans to open a revamped visitor’s center in the late spring of 2021, purchased the Dan Call Farm, where Green was the distiller, and Weaver and her team eventually discovered that it was also where Jack Daniel’s distillery got its start. But as much as they’ve learned, Weaver says there is still much they do not know about Green. That’s not surprising, since he was born into slavery. “You’re talking about getting information on a person who would not know when they were born, would not necessarily know where they were born, would not know their age, would not necessarily even know their parents,” says Weaver. “A part of the slave trade, in order to weaken an entire group of people, was to divide them up. So the kids would go with one slave owner, the mother would go with

another slave owner and the father would go with another slave owner. Just trying to piece a family back together is hard enough. Now try doing that generations later.” Despite the challenges, Weaver believes more information will eventually appear. “I don’t even think it’s going to happen in my time,” she says. “I think the next generation will continue discovering things. Jack [Daniel] died in 1911. We’re just now really piecing together the story of him and Nearest more than 100 years later.” At Southern Distilling, founders Pete and Vienna Barger learned about Statesville’s distilling history only after they started working on the distillery. Now they know that its location at the intersection of two major railways made it a perfect place for liquor to thrive before Prohibition. But when they were planning to open, the city had no distillery and no breweries. Fearing backlash from their neighbors, the Bargers initially kept their plans quiet. “It turns out that the local community was overwhelmingly supportive,” says Pete. “It was after the word got out what we were doing that these local historians started coming to us and saying, ‘Did you know about this? You might be interested in that. Look at these relics. Look at these tax records. Look at this history.’ We

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“I think a part of why people have resonated with this—no matter their background, no matter their race, no matter where they’re born … is that it was a truly authentic story that we could back up.”

Jack Daniel (black vest) alongside George Green (Nathan Green’s son) circa 1904

—Fawn Weaver of Uncle Nearest were like, holy cow. We had no idea.” The Bargers have acquired trademark rights to several pre-Prohibition brands and will be releasing the first of them, a rye whiskey, in 2021. Andy Faris and Stacy Shunk are also hoping to honor the history of distilling in Peoria, Illinois. They are the new owners of J.K. Williams Distilling, which was started by brothers Jesse and Jon Williams in honor of their great-great grandfather, who according to family lore, made bootleg whiskey. “We plan on honoring that legacy and recognize how important it can be to have something that’s really well done and can be a point of pride to the community,” says Faris. Back in Nashville, Andy Nelson says that people often lament that Prohibition ruined the family business. But if the distillery had been handed to him, he’s not sure he would have automatically wanted to assume ownership. “We have this great opportunity to do this because it was in the family, but it’s also uniquely and solely ours in some respect,” says Nelson. “We are the ones who brought it back to life essentially from dollar zero. I have so much more passion and involvement in it because of that.” ■

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Fawn Weaver

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Worthy Park Estate in Jamaica

Distributor Incentives Keys to Unlocking Productive Relationships with Distributors BY MAGGIE CAMPBELL

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istributor incentives can be a complicated and confusing territory without a one-size-fits-all strategy. Knowing your options, your goals and how your distribution partner operates is key to unlocking the best relationship and making your incentives effective in hitting the mark. It’s important to understand your distributor’s culture, and in selecting a partner considering this culture is key. Jeff Wuslich of

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Cardinal Spirits in Bloomington, Indiana, cautions that big house distributors can be driven by incentives and it is simply part of doing business and needs to be part of the plan. Partnering with a small boutique distributor is a wise choice for steady, sustainable growth without incentives (most of my experience is here, admittedly) but may require totally different time and attention. Wuslich says that one approach for larger distributor partners

can be offering alternating campaigns that run for a month about once a quarter. Classic options are per-case incentives—such as $2$5—and he suggests that it is even appropriate to see if distributors will kick in on part of the incentive. Another approach, if you want to be sure to control your budget, is to have a top three winners rewards program, for example $250 for first, $100 for second, $50 for third.

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Wuslich also warns that distributors may have their own focus in a particular month with competing incentives, and offers up an example of a ‘points systems’. In a structure like this, distributor reps may need to earn a certain amount of points to get their bonuses. There may be a digital bulletin board where current incentives for reps are posted and some of the programs may earn the reps these points for hitting certain levels of achievement. I even heard one anecdote where one brand had an incentive worth one point and that the month that promotion ran they sold more than they had in the previous two years. The word of caution here is, if the campaign stops the sales may stop. It is important to understand the financials of campaigns and know whether your brand is financially sustainable or selling without the artificial push, or if it is required to make the sale of the product. Wuslich suggests a gut check. Is this the right distributor and incentives for my brand? Will the incentive have a lasting impact and does that matter to me? Who am I up against in this portfolio? Are both managers and reps bought in to make a real impact? Michele Willard, the SE regional manager of Back Bar Project, notes that a first point of consideration is to ask yourself if a promotion is going to be nationwide, regional or in a single state. The variety of regulations across state-run, class B, and open states can mean certain incentives are safe in one state while the same structured incentives may be illegal in another. She is deeply versed in each state’s laws to ensure what she runs can be smoothly executed through the campaign’s territories. It is also important to know if the distributor allows free goods. She mentioned, for example, a bottle gift pack that came with free glasses

It is important to land the right incentive, to the right distributor, with the right structure, and at the right time. C R AF TSPIR ITSMAG.COM 

that may be allowed at some distributors but may not at others. This shows that limitations on incentives may tie in to your product and packaging development as well. No one wants to build a gift pack to find out a partner won’t work with it! Willard adds that there are further considerations within the distributor itself. She said that it may be key to incentivize field supervising managers on top of the reps themselves. As managers often have a key say in directing their reports’ work, bringing them into the fold can pay dividends. She also identifies which partners may have a craft team who specialize in boutique or specialty spirits products that may need to be more targeted with an elevated message. Perhaps your dollars are best spent incentivizing them over the average retail rep, depending on the trends of the territory. Willard has many great examples that can work for smaller and independently held brands that compete with larger brands with significant budgets. Off-premise points of distribution (POD) may make a useful goal, and this can be structured to meet a smaller budget while still having an impact. For example, if a rep opens three PODs they earn $20 but if a rep continues on and opens 10 they may earn a $75 kicker. And to keep the reps’ interest beyond this limit the top rep overall can earn an additional $100. This ensures that your budget does not run away from you and that you incentivize the reps in smaller territories who simply can’t open many accounts. It also makes the most out of those who can really push to be the top winner. Zan Kong, the commercial manager for Worthy Park Estate, advises that trips and other rewards can be a large motivator, especially for managers who can motivate the reps that report to them. Of course, his distillery being in Jamaica does not hurt, but many of us U.S. producers can show folks what a special place our spirits come from by incentivizing trips to our local cities and towns—if we have the budget for it (and be sure to check if local tourism boards offer support in this arena). In the time of COVID-19, perhaps sending an at-home-pampering kit with local treats from your area can offer some comfort while winners wait for it to be safe to travel. Kong also says it’s important that you measure the growth you want to see and have specific goals to grow X amount to meet the cost and inputs of the incentive you built. There are many tools to pull on for incentives and other strategies Willard mentioned are ways to incentivize based on a list of

Michele Willard

contacts you want to see hit or using a depletion allowance. She also discussed inventive, no-cost ways, such as pairing with larger brands—especially for craft brands that make modifiers such as liqueurs or amaro. Say, for example, your brand ambassador, who wants to make a splash with your hazelnut liqueur, happens to be friends with a big whiskey brand’s ambassador who is also at your distributor. They can pair up in that the big brand can offer to kick in a free bottle of your hazelnut liqueur when a bartender buys a case of their whiskey. Then bartenders can build a drink, say a hazelnut Old Fashioned, with the two spirits. The bartender has reduced their drink cost by getting a free bottle, the sales rep is happy to have a feature to encourage sales, the whiskey brand will likely obtain a cocktail placement itself and the bar will likely pour three to four times more whiskey per cocktail than your own brand, so it drives more volume for them. Finally, for you, the whiskey brand has purchased the bottle of liquor from you so you are not out any money and you get far better exposure. It is a win-win-win-win. Her last thought on this type of campaign is that if there is any marketing around the campaign, it is considered appropriate for your brand and the large brand to split the cost of marketing 50-50. This type of campaign can work between a sparkling wine producer and a rum maker for an Old Cuban campaign, a vermouth maker and a craft gin brand, or any other number of combinations. It is important to land the right incentive, to the right distributor, with the right structure, and at the right time. Willard made a point of saying she’ll focus on bigger-ticket items in Q4 while casual and accessible day drinking brands are best suited to patio season. Be sure to leverage the right time, the right items and the right program to land with the right customer who will hopefully come back and buy your spirits again and again. ■

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ACSA Member Spotlight

Still Whistling After All These Years Montana’s Whistling Andy Distillery marks its 10th anniversary on New Year’s Eve 2020. BY JEFF CIOLETTI

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istilleries observing major milestone anniversaries in the midst of the chaos known as 2020 have become a genre unto themselves—with Bigfork, Montana’s Whistling Andy Distillery being the latest among those. And we do mean latest, as the distillery gets its 10th anniversary in just under the wire on Dec. 31, 2020. Hitting the 10-year mark is, for obvious reasons, a much more low-key affair than husband-and-wife co-founders Brian Anderson and Lisa Cloutier would have envisioned when they launched at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. “We definitely would’ve thought the world would be in a different place where everyone in the world would not have to go through something like this,” Anderson admits. “We had to change up the plan for a really big 10-year celebration at the distillery with music and everything. Now we’re just focused on releasing the older, aged stuff, slowly over the next month—just doing more to get spirits into everybody’s hands for their own small gatherings, instead of the large public gatherings. And we’re still cranking away on sanitizer.”

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If things had gone the way the founders initially hoped, we likely would have passed the distillery’s 15th anniversary by now. “The project took me about seven years to put together,” recalls Anderson. “We had originally tried to start a distillery in 2003, but at that point it was still illegal in Montana to do craft spirits. We had to wait for some laws to be passed and also for the state tax structure to come down to where it was doable.” Once that happened, the next quest was all about location. The founders thought that finding the right space would be a snap. “We thought we would get a screaming deal for commercial building space,” Anderson says. “We went around in ’09 and everything was really expensive. I couldn’t figure out why. Turns out another fledgling industry was gobbling up much of northwestern Montana’s real estate inventory. “They had just passed legal medical marijuana in Montana and [those businesses] were looking for the same kinds of buildings.” But the pricing challenge helped make Whistling Andy a stronger business. “It ended up working out really well for us,”

Anderson says. “We kind of had to bootstrap our equipment and everything else, which gave us the opportunity to learn how to use it more than if we had a more [expensive] automated system right out of the gate.” After some equipment delivery delays and the usual snail’s-pace licensing process, Whistling Andy—which took its moniker from Anderson’s father’s old military nickname— was finally ready to open its doors at the end of 2010. Since then it’s put its regional stamp on some traditional categories, including Whistling Andy Vodka, Straight Bourbon, Moonshine and Harvest Select Whiskey (40% wheat, 40% barley, 15% corn, 5% rye)—all made from 100% Montana grain. It also offers its creative riffs in other tried-and-true areas, with Pink Peppercorn and Pear Gin, Crisp Cucumber Gin and Hibiscus Coconut Rum. The distillery also teamed up with the Bonsai Brewing Project of Whitefish, Montana, to create Hopshnop from the brewery’s Due North India Red Ale mash. Head distiller Gabe Spencer also has clued us in to some releases that are on the horizon. “We’ve got a couple of cool things com-

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“We kind of had to bootstrap our equipment and everything else, which gave us the opportunity to learn how to use it more than if we had a more [expensive] automated system right out of the gate.” —Brian Anderson

ing out,” says Spencer. “We generally do our Harvest Select whiskey at about three years, but we’ve been holding some barrels back that we’re going to release at five years” Additionally, a portion of the distillery’s Cucumber Gin has been sitting in barrels for more than six years and some of that will soon find its way into bottles. “We’re going over label design [for the gin] with the design company and once we get approval, we’ll be ready to roll,” Spencer reveals. “It’ll be probably one of the best things we’ll put out.” Next up, the distillery will be experimenting with sherry and port finishes for its whiskeys and will be releasing a range of different expressions from those projects. “I think all of us here [work] under the same philosophy that if we don’t have anything new to bring to the table why do it?” Anderson says. “Number one, it has to be delicious. We just have had a lot of fun playing around and tinkering with alcohol, which is a wonderful solvent for extracting flavors. … If I had the same spirit every day for the rest of my life, I’d probably bang my head against the wall.” ■

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Whistling Andy plans to experiment with sherry and port finishes for its whiskeys. JANUARY 20 21

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Distilling Destinations

Straight Up in Southern California San Diego-area distillers lean into seasonality, cuisine and each other to grow their spirits scene. BY JOHN HOLL

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“I think of this more as a culinary business, not a booze business.” Geoff Longenecker

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he greater San Diego area is known for its vibrant culinary scene that draws from multiple influences, as well as a thriving craft beer scene— generally regarded as one of the top in the nation. The small but growing number of distilleries in the area say both of those industries are to thank when it came to helping craft spirits gain a toehold in the market. “It is fair to say that our distilling scene really began as an offshoot of the brewing industry here,” says Geoff Longenecker, the founder and distiller at Seven Caves Spirits. “A lot of the early distillers, eight or nine years ago, came from beer and that helped establish the market. Now there are closing in on 20 of us and some are coming at it from just distilling backgrounds—there is some maturity.” That means that the distilleries are working to put their own stamp on products and to drill down into what the local customer base is looking for both in flavor and experience. For Nicholas Hammond, the founder and head distiller of Pacific Coast Spirits in Oceanside, that means using California grown and malted grains in his recipes, to offer a sense of place and to support local agriculture, a cause that is deeply important to residents. “Customers just embrace craft in San Diego,” he says. “People are experimental and open to trying new things, it’s our job to give them experiences, and to focus on hospitality.

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—Geoff Longenecker of Seven Caves Spirits

With that we’re able to build brand loyalty.” The area distilleries are largely focused on the spirits that suit both the climate and culinary influences. There is no shortage of flavor-infused vodkas, or sweet rums—this is a naval town, after all—but many have embraced agave-based spirits. Hammond, who produces a blanco agave spirit, says the Mexican influence on the town is important and having spirits to serve with local cuisine keeps them top of mind with diners. Longenecker has made a name for his distillery by gravitating toward seasonal offerings, especially with his gin. While San Diego is known for a pretty even climate, he says there is importance to offering changing flavors over the months, to help attach to cultural happenings, like the holidays. In early December, when citrus season was just hitting its stride in Southern California, he was getting ready for a winter gin, distilled with mulling spice and citrus peel. “It is basically a gin for Christmas,” he says “with fresh orange, and scents of the holiday at home, even if it is sunny and 70 degrees.” Adding a seasonal touch to his offerings also helps keep current with culinary trends, something Longenecker says he is passionate about. “I think of this more as a culinary business, not a booze business,” he says. The regular customers have come to enjoy this too, stopping into his tasting room, when it is open, to try what is current. Pre-pandemic there was

keen interest from bartenders as well, looking to create new cocktails. Time and time again, however, when local distillers are talking about their wares, the conversation turns back to breweries. Last spring, distilleries in the area helped out their beer brethren by buying kegged beer at cost that would have otherwise gone to waste to make hand sanitizer, or to distill into spirits. Some distilleries are also beefing up partnerships with local breweries to create specific spirits distilled from India pale ales, stouts and more in co-branded bottles that allows for each to make further inroads with consumers. Making hand sanitizer at the beginning of the COVID-19 spread, when national supplies were hard to find, has actually helped with the awareness and profiles of local distilleries. Consumers would come by for sanitizing gels, and also walk out with a bottle or two. Those customers have returned since, distillers say, just for alcohol. And like the early brewing pioneers of the 1980s and early 1990s there are some distilleries that are coming into less-populated, more commercial areas, finding big spaces and affordable rents. Their presence is helping bring on a revitalization to industrial swaths of land. Small distillers point to breweries that helped pave the path forward for distilleries, either through collaborations, outreach or by simply being fans. It is also nearly impos-

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Old Harbor Distilling Co. is part of a growing number of distilleries in the San Diego area.

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Pacific Coast Spirits of Oceanside strives to use California grown and malted grains.

sible to overstate the importance that Yussef Cherney, formerly of Ballast Point Brewing Co. and the founder of Cutwater Spirits, has on the local distilling scene. While that company is the 8,000-ton gorilla in the bar having been acquired in 2019 by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, credit is given where due. “Cutwater helped local drinkers become aware that spirits were being made locally,” says Michael Skubic, the founder of Old Harbor Distilling Co. Now the mantle is on the smaller operations to keep the industry push-

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ing forward. In 2014 the San Diego Distillers Guild was established as a local advocacy group for the now 17 member businesses that are seeking to carve out a niche in the area to help members get more visibility at bars, store shelves and to offer resources that will keep them competitive. “Our goal is to promote the craft of spirit production throughout the United States and to inform the public that there is more out there than mass-produced industrial liquor,” the guild says in welcoming visitors to their website.

Still being a relatively small group in a large geographical area, the existing distilleries have been able to carve out niches for themselves in flavor, branding and philosophy, while still understanding the importance to quality. While 2020 was certainly a challenge and uncertainty lies ahead, Longenecker says that distilleries in the area have stuck together in mutual support. “We actually all get along and collaborate, we’re a lively bunch that likes to have a good time and we don’t let [business] politics get in the way.” ■

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Retail: On-Premise

OUT IN THE COLD Craft spirits tasting rooms adapt business models during pandemic winter. BY JON PAGE

Iron Fish Distillery unveiled its Base Camp Iron Fish before winter in Michigan.

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Imagine a place where lake-effect snow blankets the ground for months during winter and the average low temperature hovers in the single digits, nevermind the windchill. Now imagine running a business there when statewide restrictions prevent customers from walking indoors. Such is the reality for Iron Fish Distillery in Thompsonville, Michigan. But as this winter approached, Iron Fish saw an opportunity rather than a problem. In November the farm distillery unveiled Base Camp Iron Fish, a village of heated, waterproof, breathable canvas tents where up to six guests can enjoy spirits, cocktails and wood-fired pizzas during a 90-minute timeframe. And while there are still inherent risks with a pandemic raging across the country, the distillery is confident its sanitizing and serving protocols will allow visitors to safely enjoy an on-premise experience. “We’re all dancing a little with the devil here, right? We’re all trying to keep our people employed,” says Iron Fish co-founder Richard Anderson. “We did consider, let’s just shut her down and just do distribution to get through this. We just have these assets that we can leverage and we feel pretty confident in our systems. Even if somebody were to become symptomatic, we feel that based on the science we can not contribute to community spread and also contribute to job creation and keep things stable for our employees.” In harsh and mild climates alike, craft spirits tasting rooms across the nation are facing a challenging winter. Will visitors be willing to sit inside, or will they be brave enough to bundle up for outdoor seating? Beyond the weather, the constant threat of new mandates and restrictions from governors and mayors is forcing many distillery owners to think on their feet and frequently reassess and reinvent their business models. At Iron Fish, it helps that the typical clientele doesn’t mind roughing it a bit. Skiers, snowshoers, snowmobilers and fat tire bike riders flock to the area in winter, making Iron Fish a natural end destination. “We call it Base Camp because this is the base camp from which you can go explore and have some winter fun in Michigan,” says Anderson. Before opening Base Camp, the distillery was forced to shut down operations after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 and only re-opened after all other employees tested negative. To maintain safety, all drink and food orders are placed outside and orders are delivered to a table outside of each tent’s door. When guests exit, Iron Fish sanitizes the tent and it remains empty for at least

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Better Man Distilling recently debuted themed igloos for its guests.

15 minutes. “We had 45-minute waits and people just waiting in their car to get in,” says Anderson. “It’s been a welcome recreational activity, just to be able to do something and keep people safe.” Better Man Distilling in Patchogue, New York, has its own village of sorts. This Decem-

ber the distillery introduced themed igloos in addition to its regular outdoor seating. Customers can reserve one of five experiences in two-hour windows. One igloo is an homage to “That ‘70’s Show,” complete with a disco ball, while another is an ode to summer and features tropical cocktails.

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“We wanted it to be a special experience because that’s what a distillery is, it’s an experience,” says head of operations Abby Gruppuso. “Each of those themed igloos will have a special themed cocktail that you can only get in that igloo. There will be a little free gift that you get to take home.” Gruppuso says Better Man started planning for the themed igloos this summer. But sometimes no amount of planning can help when states change guidelines and force some businesses to shut their doors or restrict hours and capacity. Some established distilleries are using the time to focus on production and preparing for a post-COVID-19 world. Astoria, Oregon-based Pilot House Distilling has been closed for public tastings for most of the year, but the company has an optimistic outlook for the future and is continuing with an expansion in a new location. “When we come out of [the pandemic] we are positioned to be in a stronger spot,” says head distiller Larry Cary. “We’ll be more efficient; we’ll be able to produce more; we’ll have better machinery. That’s because our executive board and those people really stepped out on a limb to make sure the senior management and our employees are taken care of and we’ll have everything to move forward.” Closures and restrictions hit harder for less-established distilleries, including Minneapolis-based Royal Foundry Craft Spirits, which opened in 2019. Co-founder and CMO

Nikki McClain says the distillery had its best month in October since reopening after the initial closure. She was hoping to see an additional boost from events (the distillery has a 15,000-square-foot tasting room), but new state guidance forced the distillery to close on Nov. 21. Since then Royal Foundry has been limited to selling cocktail kits. Co-founder and CEO Kelly Everhart says the closures, combined with distributors who are less willing to take a chance on a new product, forces startup distilleries to rebuild their consumer base upon opening. “For a brand new business who’s still developing their customer base, it’s going to hit us pretty hard,” she says. For distilleries that have been allowed to serve consumers indoors, there is the new challenge of reminding people to wear their masks. At Chemist Spirits and its neighboring Antidote cocktail bar in Asheville, North Carolina, founder and owner Debbie Word says her customers are following the rules. “People have been pretty good about keeping their distance,” says Word. “We really haven’t had big problems with [people not wearing masks.]” When Word spoke to CRAFT SPIRITS magazine in November, the state of North Carolina was limiting bars and restaurants to half capacity. Those restrictions actually brought a few positive changes. Word has seen a dramatic shift at the bar for tastings on weekend

nights. “We used to have to have two or three people manning that tasting room on a Friday or Saturday night and we’d get slammed with bachelor and bachelorette parties and big groups of people that were just out to find a free drink,” says Word. “Now the people that come in there, knowing there can only be six people in there, they are coming in typically a lot more serious about tasting the spirit and getting an education.” Creative director James Donaldson also says that Chemist has had success with digital menus. While paper menus are still available for those who ask, the distillery is urging consumers to access their menu via a QR code. Donaldson says it allows Chemist to frequently change the menu and keep customers’ safety in mind. “It’s little things like that where we don’t want people to wear a mask and socially distance and then feel like they’ve had to use a common pen or have a paper receipt,” he says. “Why are you doing any of it if you are forced to have an interaction like that?” Of course, the biggest source of optimism beyond this winter is a COVID-19 vaccine, which the U.S. began distributing in December. “If this vaccine comes through,” says Donaldson, “our sales team and our distilling team and marketing team have been planting seeds this year [and] if there is customer confidence regained in the first or second quarter [of 2021], I think we’re looking at an incredible year.” ■

Chemist Spirits

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Retail: Off-Premise

SAFE TO TASTE How retailers are navigating in-store tastings during the pandemic. BY SAM SLAUGHTER

Before COVID-19, no one would think twice about walking into a liquor store and seeing a vendor standing behind a table with products on display for tasting. Not only did these tastings give consumers a chance to try a product before they committed to buying, it also gave a face (and a backstory) to the product. For many, this knowledge of the product—how it was aged or for how long, the breakdown of a specific blend, etc.—could be just as important to the purchasing process as what it tasted like. These tastings, though, like everything else, came to a screeching halt in the spring of 2020. And while liquor stores were deemed

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essential, many still closed—or in some cases closed, opened and reclosed due to spikes in cases—so it has only been in the last few months that off-premise managers have had to grapple with whether or not to host tastings in-store. For some, like Tom Agnes, liquor operations manager for the city of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, having to close earlier this year posed a bit of a problem when it came to in-store events. “We had a brand new store open on March 2 this year and we closed two weeks later due to COVID,” says Agnes. “I had already scheduled two weeks of grand opening events

including tastings, celebrity events, all this kind of stuff. All those got cancelled. We haven’t had a tasting since then.” Before closure, Agnes says they would usually have tastings on Fridays and Saturdays, with a few hundred people coming through the doors in that time. Timothy Van Riper, former tasting room manager for Westport Whiskey & Wine in Louisville, Kentucky, experienced a similar thing, though to an even greater extent. “We’ve closed and opened many times. We’ve been closed (again) since October 23 because of the rise in cases in the area,” he says. In the times they’ve been open, though, Van

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A pre-pandemic spirits tasting

While the lack of tastings has affected the bottom line in small ways, many stores have pivoted directions in order to make up for the possible gains from in-person tastings. Riper says, they have tried tastings, but in a very different format. In total, he estimates, they’ve only done around 10 during the pandemic and they were very limited due to the limitations of people in the shop in general. “[During the tastings] we usually had no more than six people. [The tastings] were quite intimate and laid back.” For those stores that did not close, tastings were—for a while, at least—also put on hold. Nathan Ruiz, spirits manager of Sodies Wine and Spirits in Fort Smith, Arizona, says that while the store stayed open, there were no tastings until the state of Arizona and the Centers for Disease Control said it was safe. And while there were tastings, the look and feel was quite different. “Most people were not as engaged as usual,” Ruiz says. “We would still have a few people want to try what we were sampling, but the turnout was way down compared to pre-COVID.” He adds that, over time, people warmed up a little more to tastings. “After a few weeks of doing it and the numbers going down a little, people started to engage a bit more. I’m not sure if they were more happy about the normalcy or the buzz.” At Liquor Barn and Party Mart locations across Kentucky, vice president of purchasing and product development Brad Watson says that they also shut down tastings until it was safe to reintroduce them. “We have tasting bars and growler service

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in most of our stores, we shut those programs down in late March. We just recently returned to these programs … in a much more limited capacity with the proper safety protocols in place,” he says. While the lack of tastings has affected the bottom line in small ways, many stores have pivoted directions in order to make up for the possible gains from in-person tastings. One avenue that some stores have embraced in the interim is that of the online tasting via Zoom or other platforms. Since consumers could not come into the stores, stores came to them, setting up tastings from the comfort of the consumers’ own homes. For Van Riper, online tastings can be hit or miss. “From the know-it-alls to the too-timid that are scared to ask questions. You just have to learn how to read your audience and having to learn that virtually has been an entirely different skill altogether.” In regards to online tastings, Agnes points out that these add another layer to the tasting experience, giving consumers the chance to get deeper knowledge from master distillers or winemakers. The fact that the consumer has to essentially do the opposite of a pre-COVID tasting—buy before they try—has not really been an issue, he adds. Watson echoes Agnes in regards to the tastings that he has overseen. “The responses have been really positive and the views continue to rise with each

video. We’re going to keep producing them and quite frankly, once the pandemic is under control, we will probably continue with them,” Watson says. For many, though, business has not been affected, because of, as Agnes calls it, “pantry loading.” With more people drinking at home now, Ruiz agrees, more and more people are spending money in liquor stores, regardless of in-person tastings. Some of this, Agnes attributes to consumer safety. “The average ring is up quite a bit, but the customer count is down, so they’re buying more so they don’t have to come as frequently.” Looking ahead, as restrictions shift stateby-state and as case numbers rise and fall, the paramount objective is to maintain the safety of both employees and customers. The consensus seems to be that if it is safe to do so—and can be accomplished within state and federal regulations—then tastings will slowly be reintroduced into event calendars. And what does safely mean? Not only doing one’s due diligence, according to Agnes, but following the state and federal guidelines. Watson, who says that items like protective shielding and gloves were a proactive measure, points to enforcing strict social distancing and mask-wearing as a means of being able to successfully move forward with tastings. With those in place, there is hope for more safe tastings in the future. ■

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distribution & logistics

ROAD RULES Distillers ponder local delivery to consumers, where legal. BY JEFF CIOLETTI

Sandstone’s John Bourdon

John Bourdon didn’t expect that a few of the skills he picked up in a past career would come so in handy in 2020. “I used to be a UPS driver,” says Bourdon, owner of Sandstone Distillery in Tenino, Washington. “This is like going back to the old days.” Sandstone, like many other craft spirits producers in states that allow distillers to deliver their own products, this year confronted the question about how to get products from point A to point B in its local market—and exactly how far the term “local” applies. Some have had to become distribution logistics professionals practically overnight. The state of Washington had allowed distilleries to deliver their own products prior to the pandemic, but Bourdon started providing the service when COVID-19 hit. The distillery delivers throughout Thurston County, which includes the state capital of Olympia, as well as some of the suburbs of Seattle. On most days, Bourdon says, a driver can get from one side of the county to the

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other in 45 minutes to an hour. Bourdon can deliver between 10 and 12 orders on a delivery day in his Ford Transit Connect van. When there’s a holiday rush, it can be more than double that. In those cases he divides up the workload with his son, one taking the north side and the other taking the south side. Tuesday is the designated delivery day “That’s the day,” he says. “And if you order at any other time, delivery is still on Tuesday.” Talnua Distillery in Arvada, Colorado, has been a bit more ad hoc with its delivery planning—primarily because it’s taken a lower-key approach to running products over to those in its local community. That’s largely due to some of the restrictions the state of Colorado has put on spirits delivery since it began making temporary allowances for it last spring. The state has required distilleries to sell food with its products, whether consumers picked them up curbside or had them delivered to their homes. “We were just doing fruit snacks or Cheez-Its,” notes Talnua co-founder and VP Meagan Miller. Even simple snacks like those threw a wrench in things, as online payment systems weren’t set up for such add-ons. And many consumers weren’t even aware that they even had to buy food. Talnua was much more active with its deliveries when Colorado first allowed it in April. “During the first part of the shutdown people were really into the delivery of our spirits,” Miller notes. It’s slowed down a bit, to the point that the distillery stopped advertising it on its website. It ramped up again during the holiday season. She admits that curbside pickup is much easier on the staff—especially when it comes to to-go cocktails, which no longer require a food purchase when picked up at the distillery (bottles of spirits still do). But, if someone calls and requests delivery, the Talnua team is happy to oblige. By law, only employees of the distillery can deliver. “It just depended on who was around the tasting room, who was available, where the delivery was and who [on staff] lived the closest,” she explains. When the deliveries started, Talnua had offered delivery to areas surrounding Arvada—a suburb of Denver—but it has since scaled the radius back to just the home municipality. “It just got to be too much with gas, time away from the distillery when we were really trying to drive traffic to the distillery,” Miller

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reveals. “But we do recognize that people don’t like to leave their house and we would absolutely deliver to them.” Staff members were required to alert their respective insurers that they would be using their personal vehicles to shuttle the products to consumers. Insurance turned out to be a deal-breaker for another Colorado craft spirits producer. “The biggest issue was just the insurance,” says Lee Wood, co-founder of Wood’s High Mountain Distillery in Salida, Colorado. “Oddly enough, it wasn’t that much, but we’d be looking at a totally brand-new policy. It was something like $500-$1,000, but being in such a small market, that’s about what it really takes for being viable versus not viable. A [distiller in] a big market wouldn’t blink an eye at it.” Salida is a town of about 5,000 in a rural county of about 20,000, so the delivery costs definitely outweigh the benefits. “Between the insurance and the cost of the car, in such a small town we could deliver by bicycle more than we could by car,” Wood says. “We looked at [delivery] and we realized there was no way to make it work.” Jamie Walter, co-founder and CEO of Whiskey Acres Distilling Co. in DeKalb, Illinois, can definitely relate. “If you called me, I could theoretically deliver to you in Illinois,” Walter says. “But when you’re in a rural area—we are literally located in the middle of a cornfield— that’s not possible. It’s too cost prohibitive.” It ultimately becomes yet another argument for widespread legalization of interstate direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipping. “The holy grail for a craft distiller would be direct-toconsumer shipping with a common carrier, fulfillment through UPS or FedEx,” Walter says, asserting that intrastate direct shipping wouldn’t cut it because retailers like Binny’s already have dozens of locations throughout Illinois and can get products to consumers much more cheaply and efficiently than the distillers ever could. But, if you’re fortunate enough to be located in a more populated metro area in a state that’s allowing your distillery—at least temporarily—to deliver spirits and/or to-go cocktails, Bourdon has a couple of tips on how to make it work from his UPS days. “Always plan it so when you come out of a driveway, you know that you’re making a righthand turn into the flow of traffic,” Bourdon advises. “Make sure you’re not going in a loop over and over again. Then you just zig-zag all over the place and that’s just dumb.” ■ Colorado no longer requires a food purchase for curbside pickup of pre-made cocktails. JANUARY

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Raw Materials

ROASTED TO PERFECTION U.S. distillers are exploring specialty malts in search of new possibilities for whiskey. BY MARGARETT WATERBURY

Malt whiskey has a deep minimalist streak. Just as Picasso saw no limitation in eschewing all shades but blue in the first years of the 20th century, malt whisky makers in Scotland, Ireland and elsewhere have been unencumbered by the relative homogeneity of their primary ingredient, distiller’s malt. There’s nothing wrong with standard distiller’s malt. Made from lightly kilned malted barley, it has a neutral, cracker-like flavor and excels at producing enzymes that convert starch to sugar. It forms the base of some of the world’s greatest whiskies, which are produced from nothing more than malt, water, yeast, oak and lavish applications of that most precious of resources, time. Yet distiller’s malt represents just one of malt’s many guises. Increasingly, distillers in the U.S. and abroad are looking to brewer’s specialty malts—or creating their own—in search of an entirely new palette of possibilities in whiskey flavor, complexity and character. “We have seen a greater interest by distillers in specialty malts, primarily those that

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provide a deep, rich, caramel flavor like our crystal malts,” says Dr. Scott Garden, director of research and technical services at Great Western Malting, a major supplier of brewing and distilling grains. “We also see interest in malts that can provide ‘roasty-toasty’ flavors, and those which offer dark chocolate notes.” To keep up with growing curiosity about specialty malts from distillers, Great Western Malting now incorporates malt distillate as well as brews into sensory panels, with an eye toward better understanding how malt characteristics carry through into new make spirit. Dr. Garden says the panel is continually learning, but has been pleasantly surprised to experience firsthand just how much malt flavor and aroma contribute to the spectrum of flavors in distilled spirits. Consider it mainstream confirmation of what some craft distillers have known for years. One of the first American producers to begin exploring the potential of specialty malts was St. George Spirits in Alameda, California. Head distiller Lance Winters drew on

his previous experience as a brewer to design the recipe for St. George Single Malt Whiskey in 1996. “At that time, nobody was using specialty malts in whiskey—distillers back then were all using pale malt, usually with some portion of smoky malt,” says Winters. “With some experience as to how specialty malt shaped a finished beer, I wanted to see if their influence would show up in a whiskey. As I distilled porters, stouts, barleywines and simple tworow pale beers, I found that the most heavily roasted specialty malts made incredible aromatic contributions.” Even better, those sensory qualities shone through loud and clear even in young spirit. “When I started here nearly 25 years ago, St. George Spirits was pretty much exclusively an eau de vie distillery. As such, our distillates had to show layers of character without having ever touched a barrel,” says Winters. “Utilizing specialty malts in a whiskey was our way of crafting a new-make spirit that was delicious from the start—right off the still.”

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“... we’re trying to focus on varietal flavor specifically.” —Matt Hoffmann of Westland Distillery

The mash bill for the St. George Single Malt calls for a combination of pale malt, crystal malt, chocolate malt, black patent malt and Bamberg malt (a German style smoked over beech and alder wood). Winters says each element plays a different flavor role. Crystal malt is nutty and sweet. Chocolate malt is, well, chocolatey. Black patent malt is espresso-like. And Bamberg malt is sharp, sweet and smoky. Now in its 20th year of release, St. George Single Malt Whiskey still relies on that same combination of specialty grains. Distillers interested in experimenting with specialty malts should know that some are best considered a flavor-boosting sidekick—Robin to the Batman of distiller’s malt. “When it comes to distilled products, the primary role of specialty malts is in flavor addition,” says Dr. Garden. “They can contribute to extract, but many special malts (crystal malts in particular) do not have significant diastatic content.” Yet other unusual malts can replace base distillers’ malt entirely. After becoming enamored with historic records of rye whiskey made

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by colonial-era farmers in western Pennsylvania, Anchor Brewing & Distilling founder Fritz Maytag decided to try distilling a new kind of rye whiskey made entirely from malted grain. “From his research, Fritz believed that these wilderness farmers didn’t necessarily have access to malt, forcing them to malt their own rye,” says Bruce Joseph, head distiller at Hotaling & Co. in San Francisco. (Anchor Distilling Co. changed its name to Hotaling & Co. in 2018.) Almost any grain can be malted, including corn, rye and wheat. Joseph says malted rye can be tricky to work with at first. “It has its moments like unmalted rye,” he notes. “But once you’re in production and accustomed to its unique qualities, it’s not too bad.” Plus, there’s the flavor payoff. “In my opinion, malted rye shares the spicy, bold flavors present in unmalted rye, but it also has a depth and complexity all its own,” Joseph adds. Today, Hotaling & Co.’s Old Potrero line of whiskeys is made entirely with 100% malted rye. Common specialty malt attributes like

heavier kilning or smoking add flavor, but they can also camouflage varietal characteristics within the grains themselves. When Westland Distillery in Seattle designed the malt for its upcoming Colere release, which is made from Alba barley grown and malted in the Skagit Valley, the distillery opted for a standard pale malt profile. “The reason for that is that we’re trying to focus on varietal flavor specifically,” says Westland’s head distiller, Matt Hofmann. “With a very standard pale malt kilning profile, which is used throughout the malting industry, what are the differences we can see?” Aged entirely in unobtrusive used casks, Colere showcases distinct tropical and honey notes that Westland attributes to the barley variety itself. In our overstimulated world, there’s always going to be a place for minimalism. But as American distillers reach beyond neutrals to the surprisingly vibrant tones of specialty malt, drinkers can expect a brilliant new world of flavor ahead. ■

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packaging

Bottle production at Owens-Illinois

STRIVING FOR GREENER GLASS Cradle to Cradle Certification has helped one bottle supplier to the craft spirits industry boost its sustainable practices. BY ANDREW KAPLAN

Some craft spirits companies are beginning to take their sustainable business practices to the next level by seeking out Cradle to Cradle Certified suppliers. Unlike most product certifications, which often focus on a singular means of sustainability, Cradle to Cradle Certified is a holistic solution for assessing, optimizing and verifying all aspects of product design and manufacturing by evaluating products across five categories: material health, product circularity, clean air and climate protection, water stewardship and social fairness. Also, it goes beyond many certifications by providing a baseline across each of the categories and pathways for improvement and optimization. Karen Hoskin, the founder of Montanya Distillers of Crested Butte, Colorado, has been interested in sustainability since childhood. When she was recently applying for B Corp Certification, one thing that came up was the sustainability of her suppliers. She says she was relieved to learn that the glass bottle supplier she was already using, OwensIllinois (O-I) had recently achieved Cradle to Cradle Certification for its bottles. So far it

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has been the only glass packaging company servicing the craft spirits industry to have its bottles Cradle to Cradle Certified. “During that same period of time I was becoming really educated about how glass was made, where it’s made, where it comes from for a lot of spirits companies and what are the impacts,” Hoskin says. “I learned a lot of things that made me even more concerned. And then it became almost humorous. A lot of companies that had a sustainability message were buying bulk glass from China, not thinking twice about the impacts of their glass on the environment. It’s been really satisfying to bring that conversation into the rum world specifically, and the craft spirits world.” O-I applied for Cradle to Cradle Certification for its bottles in 2017 and was awarded certification for “Glass Food & Beverage Containers For Beer, Food, NAB, Spirit, and Wine.” The certificate covers the company’s following products: amber bottle, emerald green bottle, dark green bottle, flint bottle and extra flint bottle. All this amounted to certification of nearly 90% of O-I’s global operations, across 78 facilities. But the Cradle to Cradle Certification

process doesn’t end there. It requires companies to apply for renewal every two years. So, two years later, O-I went through the audit again and in 2019 certified 94 percent of its facilities. “And we get to do it again,” says James Nordmeyer, O-I’s VP of sustainability. “2021 is our next renewal period.” Jay Bolus is president of MBDC, one of the companies that conducts the audits for the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute which, founded in 2010, manages the program. He offers more detail about what the audit entails. “There’s five pillars, or five areas of criteria,” Bolus explains. “And you can think of it as being product-focused, processfocused and also company-focused.” The first two pillars, the product-focused ones, are the material health pillar and the circular economy pillar. This part of the audit looks at the raw ingredients of the product. For O-I, this was looking at all the inputs to the glass-making process, along with the impact those things have on human and environmental health in all stages of product manufacture. It then examines what occurs during the

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use phase. “What happens at end of use?” Bolus says. “Does the glass get recycled, and if so, are there any issues for human and environmental health during the recycling process? And what are they doing as a manufacturer to encourage the recycling of their product at end of use?” On the process side, the audit looks at the energy and carbon footprint of manufacturing along with water stewardship. “Are you using any renewable energy?” Bolus continues. “Because the goal here is to get the product manufactured with 100% renewable energy.” He adds, “For O-I, that’s hugely challenging. I think they hit 5% in the energy. So even that is a huge deal for them.” And the final pillar of social fairness looks at the corporate behaviors of the company, and those of its suppliers. “O-I wanted to have all of their beverage packages certified no matter where they were manufactured,” Bolus says. “It ended up being a huge data collection exercise as well as having to visit a handful of the manufacturing sites that were representative of the various processes they had going on.” For each of these, the applicant is then ranked on a scale of five levels: basic, bronze, silver, gold or platinum. The company gets an overall score, but also gets a score for each of the five categories. The overall score is equivalent to the lowest score received in any one of the five categories. O-I ended up being awarded the bronze certification. “We scored bronze overall because of our use of renewable energy,” Nordmeyer says. “We didn’t meet the right threshold in the use of renewable energy, but it is on our pathway to improvement. But we did score platinum in material health and we’re the only food and beverage packaging material to have that rating in material health.” Scott Cassel, CEO and founder of the Boston-based Product Stewardship Institute, Inc., whose mission is to minimize the health,

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safety and environmental impacts that result when consumer products and packaging enter the waste stream, calls the Cradle to Cradle Certification program “a step in the right direction. It is certainly moving in the right direction for packaging to look at these various elements. The Cradle to Cradle group is becoming a known certification and the more that other companies will be playing in this game, if you will, of using this certification and competing within the categories set up by this certification then the greater impact it’s going to have. … It’s a consciousness that is moving us towards greater sustainability.” Glass Packaging Institute president Scott DeFife says glass as a packaging material has some innate advantages over others. “We think of glass as a very circular package in that you can continually turn those bottles back into bottles,” he says. “That is not always the case with some of the other materials.” But, he adds, “There [are] certainly things that can be done better in the United States with regards to recycling. We don’t really think of that as the fault of the material, as it is the fault of the waste management system. … We are working on ways to get the U.S. infrastructure for glass recycling to be improved so that we can put more recycled content into the average bottle.” For example, DeFife says in Europe the average recycled content rate hovers around 50%, and the recovery rate for glass is 70%, while in the U.S. it is around 35% for both. Hundreds of companies around the world have so far had their products Cradle to Cradle Certified, split about evenly between the U.S. and abroad, mostly in Europe, but there are also some in Asia and Australia. Those interested in finding out whether their suppliers’ products have been certified can check out the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Registry at c2ccertified.org/products/registry. For those suppliers interested in getting certified, they can contact the Institute via the certification inquiryform at c2ccertified. org/get-certified/certification-inquiry. A member of the Institute team will be in touch to provide an overview of the certification process, answer any questions and discuss next steps. For those craft distillers using Cradle to Cradle Certified suppliers, it can become an attribute that helps distinguish themselves from other brands. For example, Montanya has developed some shelf talkers denoting its bottles are Cradle to Cradle Certified. The distillery is also in the process of creating

bottle neckers that will include this information as well. “I’d like every glass-making company to think, ‘Oh, shoot, we should be Cradle to Cradle Certified,’” Hoskin says. “And then, once they get certified they should be elevating themselves through that certification process to be gold and not just bronze.” For Hoskin, using Cradle to Cradle Certified bottles is just part of her overall effort to run a more sustainable distillery. “I think the same people that find it important that I make a sustainable product in a sustainable way, they also would care that I am not just turning my back on the largest things that we create which is a waste stream of glass, and other waste streams, like the cardboard boxes that our rum goes into,” she says. Those craft distilleries who would like to take things even further and have their own beverage products Cradle to Cradle Certified will have to wait, for now anyway. “I’m a huge fan of craft spirits,” Bolus says with a laugh, “but we can’t get that Cradle to Cradle Certified. It’s really just about the packaging at this point.” ■

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sales & marketing

DIGITAL SWITCH Amid the pandemic, distillers turn online to market their brands. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink nearly every aspect of our daily lives and business operations, sales and marketing budgets are certainly not immune. In order to see how distilleries across the nation have adjusted in 2020, we sought out the advice of Derek Tenbusch, VP of marketing for Lonerider Spirits in Holly Springs, North Carolina; Jeff Kanof, the VP and co-owner of Copperworks Distilling Co. in Seattle; Brad Neathery, co-founder and CMO for Dallasbased Oak & Eden; and members of the team at Distillery 291 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, including founder Michael Myers, CFO Murray Arenson, market development director Emily Rhoades and VP of business development Phillip Rawleigh. All of them have found success in digital offerings via social media and more. What are some unique ways in which you’ve shifted your marketing budget due to the pandemic? DEREK TENBUSCH: With little to no ability to do live events, we took the majority of our marketing budget and shifted it to online marketing, primarily social media. We have also been using the time to create more online content. Also, because we wanted to continue to support the bars and restaurants that have

always supported us, we spent a considerable amount of our time and budget helping to promote them, even though they really could not sell any of our products. We tried to regularly feature places that had curbside pickup and delivery options available, and later featured places that began doing limited outside seating. DISTILLERY 291: In 2020, we had planned on transitioning our budget from traditional marketing to digital. So when COVID-19 hit, we were already moving in the right direction. As we grew our virtual presence and utilized e-commerce, we increased our marketing spend. To keep our local and national markets engaged, we created a virtual tasting room utilizing Facebook Live & IGTV to host daily check-ins and happy hours with guest bartenders. We launched #291quarantunes—live music sessions Sunday through Friday—that support local musicians and are still happening today. In the wholesale market, we hosted virtual training sessions for outside sales reps as we opened distribution in new states and virtual GSMs with Michael Myers sharing our 291 story on Zoom to our national distribution partners. Additionally, Murray Arenson created a six-week online conference to assist retailers operating in our new normal. Emily Rhoades and Philip Rawleigh created a

Among other initiatives, Distillery 291 launched a digital music session during the pandemic.

video email campaign to stay connected to our sales accounts and keep them informed with changing regulations, sales trends, new products and more. JEFF KANOF: We’ve gone a lot further into creating videos for posting online. … Another thing we are doing this year is our 12 Days of Copperworks campaign where we’re posting a special offer each day from Dec. 1-12 on our social media accounts. Our brand isn’t typically focused on discounts and deals, but we are trying not to leave anything on the table during COVID-19. That campaign has created some amazing engagement thus far. BRAD NEATHERY: We have a very rigid business plan with disciplined leadership, so in the midst of COVID-19 and the market taking a downturn, we simply stayed the course, keeping our attention on the business plan. … Since we could no longer pursue many of the in-person sales activities that ordinarily demand our resources, as well as tastings, events, and brand activations being shut down, we simply reallocated that budget to areas that we could control and manage, primarily digital marketing, brand collaborations, social influencers, PR and growing our distribution footprint. How frequently are you reassessing your marketing strategy during the pandemic? TENBUSCH: Almost daily. One silver lining of doing the majority of your marketing online is that you can essentially monitor the impact of your efforts in real time. This has allowed us to make much quicker changes to our approach, target demos, platform choices and so on. KANOF: We are making changes week-byweek. We’re constantly brainstorming to try to come up with new ideas to reach customers. Our prime location has always been our main customer acquisition strategy. With our tasting room space being closed, we’ve had to discover new ways to find customers. Luckily, we are a very small team so it is a bit easier to make these decisions and pivot on a dime. Are you finding you’re investing more or less to stay connected with your consumers in a contactless world? How so?

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KANOF: We aren’t necessarily investing more dollars into connecting, but we are investing a significant amount of time. In the preCOVID-19 era of consumer tasting events and bar/restaurant events, we didn’t necessarily need to be the ones creating the content and finding the customers, we’d just participate in the events when the time came. In this new world, we need to brainstorm an idea, plan the event, do the customer outreach, execute the event, and do all of the followup. TENBUSCH: In general I would say that we are spending less, but the time commitment is, somewhat surprisingly, more intense. For example, early in the pandemic we partnered with one of our local bars to put on a virtual cocktail class utilizing our bourbons. Prepandemic this might have been as simple as setting a date, advertising and hoping that people showed up. Instead, we had to devise a plan for how to stream the event (and then teach ourselves how to use it all); set up a payment platform; run the event in a safe fashion with three to four members of our team present to set up cameras and microphones; get together ingredients; and, of course, still advertise, promote and run the event. DISTILLERY 291: We are definitely spending less on travel and events which in the past was our primary marketing activity. We planned to grow our digital marketing significantly in 2020 and we have. In the past we have spent marketing dollars on traditional marketing such as billboards print and radio which we re-allocated to digital marketing. Is there anything that surprised you from a marketing strategy standpoint this year and how will you apply it to 2021 and even post-pandemic? TENBUSCH: I was probably most

“One silver lining of doing the majority of your marketing online is that you can essentially monitor the impact of your efforts in real time.” —Derek Tenbusch of Lonerider Spirits surprised at how willing people were to adapt to the new ways of doing business during the pandemic. KANOF: I’m shocked by the way many seem to have a nonstop appetite for content and engagement on social media. We’re definitely going to do our best to keep up the more frequent posting and content development for social in the future. In a way, the pandemic has made us forget about the need to make videos, classes, etc. perfect and instead focus more energy on engaging in real and consistent ways. NEATHERY: We definitely learned a lot from it. The key takeaways for us were having further clarity in knowing when to stay the course, partnering with like-minded brands

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and personalities, and continuing to deepen the personalization of the brand experience. These are lessons and strategies that will stick with us for a lifetime. DISTILLERY 291: We can tell our story and create connections virtually in ways that we never would have attempted if not for COVID-19. Additionally, by creating our virtual experiences, we were able to engage our national and local audiences and create stronger connections with distillery activities in Colorado. One example, our quarantunes sessions, has people from all over the world tuning in to watch and listen to our local musicians. Post-pandemic, we will continue to connect in person and virtually and share our local activities with our nationwide audience. ■

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Technically Speaking

KEEP IT CLEAN Revisiting standard operating procedures for cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting Equipment cleaning and disinfecting protocols already have been second-nature to most distillers, but the pandemic has brought an intensified focus to those procedures and necessitated some new ones. Here to answer some of the most common questions related to the subject is Jeff Irvin, department chair for brewing, distilling and fermentation and the director of the Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Candler, North Carolina. How has the pandemic upended the normal standard operating procedures (SOPs) for cleaning and disinfecting distilleries? JEFF IRVIN: First, I would like to thank all the distilleries that halted production to help with

the hand sanitizer debacle. It is a testament to the industry that so many businesses halted production and pitched in as quickly and creatively as they did to help their communities. Overall, the day-to-day cleaning of fermenters, stills and equipment has not changed much. Keeping everything clean and sanitized between runs and batches is required to make a consistent product. Rules of operations in tasting rooms vary from state to state in regards to capacity limits, sales laws and business hours, so putting a blanket statement on what is normal for publicfacing aspects of distilleries would be nearly impossible. Tasting room managers and tour directors have been extra vigilant to abide by detailed protocols to sanitize anywhere hands may touch, including spraying door handles,

Jeff Irvin of the Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast

restroom facilities and other shared spaces. It still amazes me how resilient and adaptable our craft distillery community can be. What are some of the most common cleaning protocols that many don’t even realize/fail to perform? (i.e: what should everyone be doing that they’re not doing?) Let’s start from the beginning. Cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and sterilizing are all very different and important in different aspects of the process, each requiring different chemicals and techniques. • Cleaning is the removal of soils and debris from the surface to an acceptable level. This can be a wide array of things, from removing protein foam in a fermenter to removing dirt from a floor track brought in by muddy boots on a rainy day. • Sanitizing is the reduction in microbes to an acceptable level. This varies depending on public health standards and needs. A surface cannot be sanitized if it still needs to be cleaned. • Disinfecting is the process of killing microorganisms on non-porous surfaces and objects. These require a certain amount of time to do their dirty work. Disinfectants do not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. Examples of disinfectants include bleach and alcohol solutions. • Sterilizing refers to any processes that remove, kill or deactivate all forms of life. A surgeon’s instruments must be sterilized before performing surgery. Every facility should have SOPs for how to clean, sanitize and disinfect surfaces that are written down. Always keep a hard copy of the SOPs in a central location is imperative to ensuring the procedures are followed appropriately, and staff can reference the material at any time. Five principles of cleaning and sanitizing are as follows: • Chemical concentration: Make sure to titrate your chemicals to ensure that your chemicals are within effective concentration. Blindly adding more chemicals can make them less effective and could cause damage to the surface you are trying

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to clean/sanitize (i.e. 70% isopropanol is more effective than 91% isopropanol for sanitizing surfaces). Work with the chemical supplier to get a kit to help target the percentage in solution that chemical will be most effective depending on soil/microbial load and what you are cleaning. The concentration may need to be adjusted to match what you are trying to clean or sanitize. • Contact times: For many chemicals, specifically disinfectants, contact times are much longer than some may realize. Chemicals must be in contact with the surface for a set amount of time to effectively clean, sanitize and disinfect. • Mechanical energy: Adequate mechanical forces are required for soil removal, whether in the form of elbow grease or forces created by pumping cleaning solution through a spray ball. Proper flow rates are required for internal spray balls to work. • Temperature: Specific temperatures need to be maintained to ensure that a chemical at the right concentration is effective. Some chemicals are more effective when they are hot, and others are more effective at room temperature. Do not overheat your chemicals. • People: Everyone needs training on the SOPs and chemicals in your facility. If everyone is cleaning and sanitizing in their own way, tracking down the source of a QA/QC issue would be difficult and inefficient. Everybody should be following protocols in place. If something is not working, change the procedure and ensure that everyone understands the changes. Keep in mind that the principles are interdependent, meaning that if the temperature is too low, the contact time may need to increase. Validate the effectiveness of your cleaning and sanitizing procedures on a regular basis. Visually inspect the inside surface of tanks to make sure there is no product residue and the old “white glove test” on surfaces that are cleaned manually. Invest in an ATP meter to test the effectiveness of your sanitizer. They work by testing for the presence of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by utilizing an enzyme from fireflies (luciferase). When in contact with ATP, it emits light, which can be measured, proving if the substance of a living organism is present or not, easily validating your sanitizing protocol. What types of industrial compounds work best, which are less effective? Caustic and acids have been used for clean-

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Doing things correctly will save money in the long run by preventing staff from being injured by the chemicals, and keeping products from going down the drain. ing for a long time, and they still work when used properly. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and maintain the five principles mentioned above. Make sure the cleaner is designed for the soil load. For example, if you are using baker’s yeast or fermenting and distilling cherries, you will need to adjust for a higher level of sulfur compounds. If you could come up with a short list of cleaning/disinfecting tips that everyone should be doing, what would they be? • Safety first! Wear the proper PPE to protect yourself and your staff. Review the SDS sheets for your chemicals, be familiar with safety guidelines, and communicate them. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and work with your chemical supplier to know how your chemicals work. • Store chemicals properly. Label everything and clean up spills promptly. • Contact times for many disinfectants are much longer that most people realize. Most disinfectants do not work if they are sprayed and wiped immediately. They need contact time to be effective. • Titrate your cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting solutions, including no-rinse solutions, to make sure that they are in an

effective range.

• Check your water chemistry and make adjustments accordingly. Seasonal changes in unfiltered water can affect the way chemicals work. • Do not assume something is clean. Clean organic and inorganic soils because dirt cannot be sanitized. • Match your cleaning protocol with the soil load. What works for one piece of equipment will not always work for another. How much do these procedures add to a distiller’s budget and how much extra time do they require? Doing things correctly will save money in the long run by preventing staff from being injured by the chemicals, and keeping products from going down the drain. How can spirits producers develop a cleaning schedule that they’re able to stick to, even beyond the pandemic? Start with what you know. Write down your SOPs and update them as you improve your processes. Periodically test the effectiveness of your protocols, and communicate with your employees as changes are made. ■

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legal corner

WHAT’S IN A [WHISKEY] NAME? That which we finish in oak Cognac casks and call “Rye Whiskey” may taste as sweet, but should probably just be called “whiskey.” BY FRANK KNIZNER

Federal whiskey regulations are important and intriguing. They establish the standards of identity for whiskey and its various types, and they largely demystify whiskey classification. They can be tricky; the devil is often in the details, and the exceptions prove the rules. But they are carefully drafted, and an attentive reading of the Code of Federal Regulations almost always compels a definitive conclusion as to the classification of a given whiskey. When it comes to whiskey classification, regulators, industry members and consumers overwhelmingly agree. For example, all [should] agree that a spirit produced in Virginia, distilled to 150 proof from a mash of 65% corn, 25% malted barley, and 10% wheat, aged for one year at 120 proof in new charred oak containers, bottled at 90 proof, and possessing the taste, aroma, and character generally attributed to whiskey, is “Bourbon Whiskey.” Likewise, all [should] agree that a spirit produced from the same mash bill using the same method above, except that it is aged in used oak containers, is “Whiskey Distilled from Bourbon Mash.” But what happens if you take the Bourbon Whiskey in my first example and you further age (or “finish”) it in used oak containers (perhaps casks that were previously used to age Cognac)? All [should] agree that the resulting spirit is neither “Bourbon Whiskey” nor “Whiskey Distilled from Bourbon Mash.” It’s not “Bourbon Whiskey” because nothing in the relevant regulations allows a spirit aged in used oak containers to be classified as “Bourbon Whiskey.” It’s not “Whiskey Distilled from Bourbon Mash,” because nothing in the relevant regulations allows a spirit aged in new charred oak containers to be classified as “Whiskey Distilled from Bourbon Mash.” So what is it?

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The answer, in my opinion, is that it’s no type of whiskey—it’s just “whiskey.” That is, it is “an alcoholic distillate from a fermented mash of grain produced at less than 190° proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to whisky, stored in oak containers … and bottled at not less than 80° proof.” This answer is not desirable to most industry members. TTB labeling regulations require that spirits be identified by a class/type statement on the brand label, and distillers reasonably worry that identifying these whiskies as [just] “whiskey” does not indicate their quality or value. After all, finishing Bourbon Whiskey in Cognac casks is intended to make it a more premium product. It seems punitive to have to identify these whiskies with a term that can identify (and often is used to identify) less-premium products. The rule seemed to compel an undesirable result, and the industry needed a more palatable solution. One solution would have been for TTB to allow such whiskies to bear both the mandatory class/type statement (i.e., “whiskey”) and a statement about the constituent whiskey and the used-cask-finishing (e.g., “Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Cognac Casks.”) TTB, however, considers these two statements appearing together constitute a “class/type conflict,” which is prohibited under 27 CFR 5.35(a) (requiring the class/type to be stated in conformity with the standards of identity in 5.22) and 5.42(a)(1) (prohibiting misleading statements). Whether a class/type conflict exists in these cases, and whether the inclusion of the constituent-whiskey-and-finishing statement is misleading, is, in my opinion, up for debate. If TTB’s concern is that the finishing cask is not clearly oak (and so the resulting spirit is not clearly whiskey), then TTB could simply require that “oak” modify the

finishing cask in the statement (e.g., “Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Oak Cognac Casks”). So instead, TTB adopted the policy that they would allow these whiskies to be classified as either “whiskey” or as “Distilled Spirit Specialty” products. “Distilled Spirits Specialty” (or DSS) is not a standard of identity proper, like “whiskey,” “brandy,” or “rum,” which, among others, are classes of distilled spirits enumerated in 27 CFR Part 5 Subpart C, the Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits. Rather, it is a creature of regulatory construction; a catch-all classification for products whose classes/types are not enumerated in 27 CFR 5.22. Except for a limited and here-inapplicable exception, DSS products must bear a truthful and adequate “statement of composition” that serves as the mandatory statement of class/type. By opting to have these whiskies treated as DSS products, industry members could avoid identifying them as [just] “whiskey,” and could instead identify them with a statement of composition mentioning the type of initial whiskey and the type of used barrel/cask finishing (e.g., “Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Cognac Casks”). It is unclear if TTB intended for this to be a permanent solution or a temporary measure until they revised the regulations, but whatever the case, TTB approved a substantial number of these whiskies as DSS products. There were two significant problems with TTB’s policy: (1) DSS products were not allowed to bear age statements (and so distilleries could not tout the age of their Cognac-cask-finished Bourbon Whiskey); and (2) these whiskies fell squarely into the definition of “whiskey” in 27 CFR 5.22 (and so allowing them to be classified as DSS products relied on a strained interpretation of the relevant regulations). In a substantial set of changes to beer, wine and spirits regulations that went into effect

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Federal whiskey regulations are important and intriguing. They establish the standards of identity for whiskey and its various types, and they largely demystify whiskey classification.

in May 2020, TTB addressed these problems. TTB addressed the first problem by adding an allowance for DSS products to bear a statement of age. TTB addressed the second problem by revising its policy regarding the treatment of these whiskies as DSS products. Unfortunately, TTB’s new policy seems to muddy the waters even more. From what we can tell, TTB’s new policy (which like the prior policy, appears to be an internal TTB policy) is as follows: Bourbon Whiskey finished in used oak casks can be treated as “whiskey” or a DSS product; Rye, Wheat, Malt, and Rye Malt Whiskey finished in used oak casks can be treated as “whiskey” or as Rye, Malt, Wheat, or Rye Malt Whiskey (respectively), but not as

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DSS products. It’s unclear why Bourbon Whiskey gets disparate treatment. Treasury Decision TTB158 does not seem to address the reasons for the policy shift. It remains to be seen how the industry will respond to these changes. So, if you recently received a correction request for your new Rye Whiskey Finished in Cognac Casks, asking you to bifurcate the statement of composition into separate class/ type (Rye Whiskey) and finishing (Finished in Cognac Casks) statements, hopefully this article sheds some light on why. Or, if you are concerned that rulemaking by internal policies that rely on strained interpretations of the regulations takes the standards out of

standards of identity, then perhaps this article will give you a starting point to advocate for clear and express changes to the regulations themselves. ■

Frank Knizner is an associate attorney at Lehrman Beverage Law. Opinions are his own.

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closing time

-0.1% Rum

+4.3 Brandy

Liqueurs/Cordials

+6.4% Agave Spirits

+1.1 Vodka

+1.9% Gin

GLOBAL*

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+1.0% Rum

-0.1% Brandy

Liqueurs/Cordials

Agave Spirits

-0.8% Vodka

+3.2% Gin

Source: IWSR. *Based on 20 key global markets (including global travel retail), representing 75%+ of total global beverage alcohol

Whisk(e)y

+2.2%

+4.1%

+0.1%

While the lingering effects of COVID-19 are likely to continue impacting the growth trajectories for most spirits categories—especially in on-premise establishments—we can expect low- to mid-single-digit growth for more than half of the major spirits categories as we head to the mid-2020s.

Whiskey

Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGR) through 2024

+3.6%

SPIRITS CATEGORY VOLUME FORECASTS

+0.1

U.S.

C R AF T S PI R I T S MAG .CO M


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Craft Spirits January 2021  

A publication of the American Craft Spirits Association, Craft Spirits Magazine explores the art, science and business of distilling.

Craft Spirits January 2021  

A publication of the American Craft Spirits Association, Craft Spirits Magazine explores the art, science and business of distilling.