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From politics to spirits and everything in between, 2016 was an intense year from start to finish.

WHAT NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS SHOULD THE SPIRITS INDUSTRY MAKE HEADING INTO 2017? 2016 … wow, what a year! American voters (and maybe the candidates too) learned one thing … the importance of trust. Trust the polls? Trust the numbers? Trust the headlines? Trust history? Some trusted their hopes and maybe their wishes, and some trusted their dissatisfaction and maybe their anger. We all trusted in something, or more importantly in someone. Stephen R. Covey, author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" wrote this: "Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people." Years later, the author's son Steven M.R. Covey released his own groundbreaking work entitled "The Speed of Trust, The One Thing That Changes Everything." His subtitle says it best: trust IS the one thing that changes everything. The theme is obvious, and we can all gain from it heading into 2017.

There you are. On the floor. The calendar reads January 1, 2017. The dregs of the champagne have gone flat. The stale, mingled aroma of empty beer and liquor bottles create a palpable mung in the air. And you’re alone. Wishing people were there to help clean up, make a plate of bacon, and laugh off the night before. You, like the distilling industry, should focus on making a stronger, bigger community. The more of us there are, the more important it is we stick together as a group. At some point we’ll all need help … or some bacon.  — Colin Blake, Moonshine University

With all of the competition and noise in the marketplace, both in the spirits industry and in competing alcoholic beverage categories, distillers should resolve to have laser-like focus on their brands. There are no shortcuts to the critical mass you need to succeed – brands are built one glass bottle at a time.  — Rick Gibson, Owens-Illinois, Inc.

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The craft spirits industry’s New Year’s resolution should be to continue to work together to determine how craft should be defined, while being inclusive of the successful producers and brands that have grown to be “too large for craft." These producers and brands find themselves at an awkward crossroads where they have grown to accomplish their dreams and now find themselves in a no man’s land between craft and the giants. Realizing these distillers have built awareness for everyone in the craft space would be wise, and finding a balanced place for them is crucial in my opinion. After all, what they have attained is the dream of many. The question of too small to be big and too big to be small will be a paramount challenge. Whether the goal of a producer is to be acquired or simply be a sustainable cash positive business, ultimately the goal should be about being inclusive and stronger together. The larger players have taken notice and a crowded marketplace of competition will continue to be increasingly fierce. Cohesive, intelligent thinking, and action at the guild, regional, state and federal levels will bolster everyone if done so wisely. Oh … and of course fantastic, disruptive packaging backed by great storytelling to set your brand apart from the competition. — David Schuemann, CF Napa Design

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Be worthy of trust, build a team that you trust, and then trust your team to deliver something that your customers will trust. Here’s to a GREAT 2017 – cheers!

— Pete Russell, G&D Chillers

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Profile for Artisan Spirit Magazine

Artisan Spirit: Winter 2016  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Winter 2016  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.