Craft Spirits Weekly
Welcome to the 91st issue of Craft Spirits Weekly , a service dedicated to bringing you the news most important to the craft spirits distiller. Check your inbox every Thursday to find a curated selection of articles and news pieces from the American Craft Spirits Association.
Craft Spirits Data Project Results Are In: Craft Spirits Volume Rises 23.7%
The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), Park Street, and the IWSR on Tuesday presented highlights from the 2018 Craft Spirits Data Project (the Project) at the Third Annual Craft Spirits Economic Briefing at Fine & Rare in New York. The Craft Spirits Data Project, which was first introduced in 2016, is a first-of-its-kind research initiative that aims to provide a solid and reliable fact base for evaluating performance and trends in the U.S. craft spirits industry.

The ongoing Project, which seeks to quantify the number, size and impact of craft spirits producers in the U.S., is an effort led by ACSA, Park Street and the IWSR, with collaboration from key industry groups including the American Beverage Licensees (ABL) and Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA).

Key findings and highlights revealed during the briefing include the following: 

1) The craft distilling industry sold nearly 7.2 million cases in 2017, up 23.7% in volume over 2016, with $3.7 billion in sales and 29.9% growth by value . The market share of U.S. craft spirits reached 3.2% in volume and 4.6% in value in 2017, up from 1.2% (volume)/1.4% (value) in 2012 and 2.6% (volume)/3.8% (value) in 2016.

2) The number of active craft distilleries in the U.S. grew by 15.5% over the last year to 1,835 distilleries.  Active craft distillers are defined as licensed U.S. distilled spirits producers that removed 750,000 proof gallons (or 394,317 9L cases) or less from bond, market themselves as craft, are not openly controlled by a large supplier and have no proven violation of the ACSA Code of Ethics.

3) Craft Spirits industry investment has doubled over the past two years.  In 2017, investment by the U.S. craft spirits industry increased by more than $190 million to $590 million in total, doubling from $299 million in 2015. These investments primarily covered the build out of tasting rooms and other visitor experiences, equipment to increase production capacity and associated labor costs. 

4) Exports are up 5.7% since 2016 with more than half a million cases exported.  Exports of U.S. craft spirits reached 598,000 cases in 2017, adding more than 7.7% of additional volume to U.S. craft distillers’ total sales.

5) Distillery and tasting room sales make up 40% of all sales for small craft distilleries, while out of state sales make up 62% for larger craft distilleries.  Direct sales at the distillery are important for all craft distillers but especially important for small craft producers (between 0 and 10,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually). Out of state business is particularly important for large producers (between 100,001 and 750,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually).

6) Some states are “craftier” than others, with California, New York, Washington, Texas and Colorado leading the pack.  Geographically, the market remains concentrated. The top five states by number of craft distilleries—CA (156), NY (134), WA (122), TX (108) & CO (99)—make up 33.7% of the U.S. craft distiller universe, and the next five states -- OR, PA, NC, OH, FL—account for an additional 18.4% of the market. The remaining states represent 47.9% of the market.

7) Federal Excise Tax (FET) reform is helping to stimulate craft spirits growth.  Surveys of craft distillers indicate investments in equipment and staff in the U.S. craft spirits industry are accelerating in 2018 and are expected to continue to accelerate in 2019 due to the impact of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which became effective January 1, 2018 and reduced the Federal Excise Tax on distilled spirits from $13.50 to $2.70 per proof gallon for the first 100,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually.
Portland, Oregon's Freeland Spirits Expands Distribution
Freeland Spirits, one of the nation’s few distilleries owned and operated by women, announced the expanded launch of its namesake gin, according to founder Jill Kuehler. (BevNet)
Time's Running Out: Enter Your Products for ACSA Judging of Craft Spirits
These days there are so many spirits competitions, it’s hard to distinguish one from another. So why should you submit your products for consideration in the ACSA’s Annual Judging of Craft Spirits when there’s no shortage of opportunities to take home a medal? Well, for starters, at ACSA medals still mean something. It’s not uncommon in industry competitions to receive an award just for showing up. But the ACSA does not give participation trophies. Every entry is vetted by our independent judging panel of seasoned spirits experts. It’s the only craft judging competition assembled, organized and overseen by you, the distilling community.
 
Only the best, most deserving spirits make the cut. In addition to Gold, Silver and Best in Class for each category, we also will be presenting, for the first time, the Innovation Award, designed especially for outstanding spirits that may not fit with traditional flavor profiles of particular categories.
 
Entrance fees are  $250  per spirit for ACSA members and  $350  per spirit for non-members. The final deadline to enter is October 8, 2018! Best of Show earns both a coveted medal AND a Gilson hand-crafted snowboard or pair of skis. An ACSA medal is about much more than bragging rights. It’s both a mark of excellence and a vote of confidence from those who know spirits best. And it gives the winners a truly competitive edge.
Vermont's Mad River Distillers Signs with M.S. Walker for N.Y. Distribution
Warren, Vermont-based Mad River Distillers is teaming with distributor M.S. Walker to bring its award-winning spirits to the Empire State. The two are building on the successful existing partnership between the companies in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, one that has seen consistent double-digit sales growth since inception.
Spirits of French Lick Releases Stampers Creek American Rum
Spirits of French Lick announced the release of it’s third new product this calendar year, Stampers Creek, a double-pot-distilled American Rum. (The Drinkable Globe)
Food & Wine Spotlights Republic Restoratives
Politics and alcohol are no stranger to one another. Deals have long been closed over extra dry  martinis , fundraising galas fueled by bottles upon bottles of  Champagne  and lest we forget 2009’s  White House Beer Summit . But for former Democratic party rising star Pia Carusone, booze became something bigger than a mere byproduct of doing business. It became a career. Childhood friends Carusone and partner Rachel Gardner are the founding mothers behind  Republic Restoratives , a craft distillery and taproom in D.C. (Food & Wine)
Maine's Sweetgrass Plans Release Party for 7-Year-Old Whiskey
It has been a long seven years for Keith Bodine, owner of Sweetgrass Winery & Distillery in Union. Seven years ago, Bodine laid down a batch of single malt whiskey, then sat back to watch it age. (Press Herald)
Storyhouse to Become Latest Distillery in San Diego's East Village
This October, Storyhouse Spirits will join You & Yours Distilling Co. and Old Harbor Distilling Co. in the East Village. The 7,600-square-foot historic building, located at the corner of J Street and Park, has been reimagined by Blalock & Partners Architectural Design Studio as an “industrial chic” space that will span a distillery and production facility, a tasting room and bar that opens onto a sidewalk patio and a mezzanine lounge perched above the distillery floor that will also offer views of the skyline and waterfront. (Eater San Diego)
Western New York State's Ellicottville Distillery Celebrates 2nd Birthday
The Ellicottville Distillery officially opened its doors for business Oct. 1, 2016 after a two-and-a-half year project in the making. It opened with a unique line of corn whiskey, corn vodka and apple vodka—all under its label, “The Agronomist.” (Salamanca Press)
Virginia's Ragged Branch Releases Wheated Bourbon
Ragged Branch Distillery has released its much anticipated Wheated Straight Virginia Bourbon Whiskey. Retail distribution began on September 15. (BevNet) 
Sagamore Spirit Releases Two Limited-Edition Rye Whiskeys
Whiskey enthusiasts looking for something different to explore now have two new bottles to add to their bar carts, as Sagamore Spirit adds two limited-edition rye whiskies to its lineup this month: a brand new  Port Finish  and the second batch of fan-favorite  Double Oak Straight Rye Whiskey. (The Drinkable Globe) 
American Craft Spirits Association | americancraftspirits.org