Season's Greetings to You and Yours!
As 2016 comes to a close, we at ACSA wanted to wish you a happy holidays. It has been an exciting and eventful year for the American Craft Spirits Association and we wish you all a safe, happy, and successful year to come. 

As the new year is nearly upon us, we also want want to share with you a handful of industry trends and insights we're predicting in 2017, as well as our thoughts on what to expect under the next presidential administration.
ACSA Board of Directors 2016-2017

Paul Hletko, Few Spirits

Dan Garrison, Garrison Brothers

Steve Johnson, Vermont Spirits

Kings County Distillery

Privateer Rum

New Liberty Distillery

Blaum Brothers Distilling Company

Starlight Distillery

Revolution Spirits

Wood’s High Mountain Distiller

Ex Officio

Osocalis Distillery

Westland Distillery

Santa Fe Spirits

House Spirits

Woodinville Whiskey Co.


The ACSA Staff
Eight Craft Spirits Trends to Watch in 2017
Jeff Cioletti, ACSA Contributing Writer
As 2016 is about to become a memory, it’s time to look ahead at 2017. Here are the top craft spirits trends we can look forward to in the new year.
  1. Next-Generation Genever: The international gin renaissance has made consumers curious about the spirit’s forerunner: Dutch genever. Bartenders increasingly are mixing with genever and a number of U.S. craft spirits producers have created their own riffs on the beverage. Expect the number of American-made genever-style spirits to grow considerably in 2017. 

    The ACSA Craft Spirits Judging Competition already has close to 100 gins submitted with a couple of weeks before registration closes. If you're a part of this gin trend, let us evaluate your Genever! For registration information, continue reading below.

  2. Tapping Tonic: And, while we’re on the topic of gin-related spirits, let’s talk about the classic G&T. Until recently tonic has been mostly an afterthought in one of the most-ordered mixed drinks in the world. However, with the popularity of high-end tonic producers like Fever Tree, the non-alcohol component of the recipe has morphed into an equal partner. With that in mind, collaborations and cross-marketing partnerships between craft gin producers and tonic makers are very likely on the horizon. 

  3. American Amaro: On-premise establishments have made Campari one of the most popular components of American cocktails. Meanwhile, Fernet Branca and Amaro Montenegro have gained passionate cult followings among the cocktail-conscious. So, get ready for more experimentation in this space among U.S. craft spirits producers as they develop their own recipes inspired by these bitter and herbal Italian liqueurs.

    The ACSA Craft Spirits Judging Competition demonstrates this trend. We are eager to see how our craft producers stand up to those international brands which, for some, have been produced for over 150 years. ACSA believes our members are up for the challenge!

  4. Bitter Bites: Artisanal bitters producers have been moving beyond the basic “salt and pepper” of the bar, aromatic and citrus bitters, and into more adventurous flavors. One area in particularly where we’ll see more activity is the realm of culinary-inspired bitters. Products inspired by Asian, Creole, Italian and other cuisines will be finding their way into more cocktails in 2017

  5. Cross-Craft Collaborations: In 2016, Louisville-based Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. launched its CR&FTWERK series of brandies aged in barrels that previously held beers made by a number of iconic craft brewers. Expect 2017 to be a year of expanding collaborations between craft spirits and craft beer producers.

  6. Rum-aissance: Whiskey has been grabbing most of the spotlight in recent years, but rum is ready for its close-up. The tiki bar renaissance and the rise of rum-centric bars like Portland, Oregon’s aptly named Rum Club are putting finer sugar-cane-based spirits back on discerning drinkers’ radars.

    Last year, Maggie's Farm Single Barrel Rum from Allegheny Distilling took the Best of Show in ACSA's Craft Spirits Judging Competition. Attendees at the Distillers Convention and Vendor Trade Show were able to sample this award-winning product. You MUST attend the ACSA convention in Nashville to appreciate the quality of craft spirits products with member producers creating adult beverages that are really fine. 

  7. Against the Grain: Rum and other spirits categories may be attracting more fans, but make no mistake: whiskey is still the star of the show. Rye whiskey volume, in particular, has been growing exponentially, which has opened the door for alternative grains. Craft spirits producers will continue to push the boundaries on what defines “whiskey,” incorporating everything from rice to quinoa in their mash bills.

  8. And, Speaking of Rye: Expect a greater shift in cocktail menus, as bartenders swap out bourbon in favor of rye in a wide range of classics. Bars already are featuring nearly as many Rye Old Fashioneds as Bourbon Old Fashioneds.

    Have a favorite rye cocktail? Let us know! Send us a photo on our Facebook or Twitter pages. 
What We Might Expect From President Trump
"Promises made during a campaign and succeeding US government policy, particularly in the area of trade, are often times two different things. While Mr.  Trump  clearly opposes the TPP and wants to impose tariffs on goods coming from certain countries (e.g. China), the overwhelming majority of US craft spirits producers sales takes place in the home state. However, the export market for grain will be directly impacted which may make available more corn for US production of spirits.   

ACSA, like other national trade groups, can only guess what will happen on the Hill once Mr.  Trump  takes office but it intends to continue to push for craft distillers, advocating recognition as small business entrepreneurs who are making a significant economic impact on the US economy. The recently released  Craft Spirits Data Project  ((c) 2016 ACSA/Park Street, IWSR) reveals the industry employs over 12,000 FTEs with investments close to $300 million in 2015 alone.

Producers would be most favorably impacted by a substantial overhaul of the tax code, a refrain heard on the  Trump  campaign trail. This is true as it applies to the federal excise tax. Currently, 54% of the price of a bottle of distilled spirits is consumed by taxes and fees. Producers are seeking a comprehensive tax structure to reduce the excise tax for the alcohol beverage industry. More importantly, spirits producers are seeking parity with beer and wine who have realized a reduction in their FET for years. Currently, a craft spirits producer pays 5.4 times more FET than a craft brewer and 16.4 times more FET than a small winery for equal quantities of beverage alcohol."

-Margie A.S. Lehrman (Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Look for an announcement of our Town Hall Meeting Webinar to Learn What's Up Ahead in the 115th Congress
Most Anyone Can Ferment:
Only a Few Can Create Magic! Come Learn How!
Nicholas King and Antony Moss, MW, of Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) will present, before the ACSA Convention, a Master Class that includes a professional certification recognized globally in the spirits industry. For individuals wishing to gain immediate credibility in the industry, this comprehensive training is the means to do so. During two days of learning, plus a certification exam, these instructors will unlock in-depth distillation techniques and the specific factors that influence the final character of the finished spirits. The program will take place on February 14, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Register here!

Maggie Campbell, Head Distiller and Vice President of Privateer Rum, shared a few words about the WSET program, one of the pre-convention events: 

"The strength of the WSET program is that it covers production methods and offers insight from across the globe. It openly discusses how production techniques affect the character of the final spirit and includes technical taste training that gives you the ability to communicate your tasting experience effectively with other spirit pros.

Their certification is growing in awareness in the US and is well respected across the globe - and even considered essential in the UK drinks trade. It fleshed out my global knowledge so that I had a good understanding of the laws, production, and classic characteristics of international spirits categories.

I've had the pleasure of knowing Antony Moss for 5 years now and every time I taste with him I have developed and grown immensely. Nicholas King has traveled the world to work side by side distillers across the entire industry, his curiosity for regional distillation techniques goes beyond anyone I have met. The textbook from this course sits on my desk and is referred to constantly when we are training our staff on a new concept or technique.

This is an excellent primer for those wishing to have a foundation of the international spirits world and looking to grow their palate and descriptive ability. My taste training has given me the ability to taste a nuance in my spirit, identify the origin of the character, and decide whether I want to highlight the trait or eliminate it through my production choices. An excellent program for those beginning their journey or looking to have a holistic, globally relevant foundation."

- Maggie Campbell, ACSA  Co-Chair, Education Committee
Don't Miss the ACSA Convention!
What: ACSA's  4th Annual Distillers Convention and Vendor Trade Show

When:  February 16th-17th, 2017 , with pre-convention events held  February 14th & 15th

Where:  Renaissance Nashville Hotel, 611 Commerce St., Nashville TN 37203
Submit Your Spirits Today
You may have missed the early bird registration but there is still time to enter ACSA's Spirit Competition! Ring in the new year with the chance to take home the gold! 

Spotlight on a Member of the ACSA Family:
Perfecting Your Craft
We Are Practitioners
  Colin Blake,  Director of Spirits Education & Creative Services

When I first entered this industry I viewed the craft distilling movement as one of pioneers - a group of trailblazers opening small distilleries, people playing with the view of traditional spirits, experimenting, and finding the grey areas in definitions to create something new. And even though I still view the industry this way, there is another layer that I could never put my finger on. And then one day I was speaking with a physician friend and he put a word on what I was trying to define. The fact that we’re not just distillers, we’re not just pioneers, we’re practitioners.  

When my doctor friend was talking about the role of a physician, he spoke at length about how you don’t get a degree and go practice. You have to constantly educate yourself in order to, not only maintain modern medical practices but to become a better doctor over time. And every distiller I meet does this same thing.   

We all start out studying, learning, and trying to perfect our process. But even as the product is coming off the still, bottles begin to fill, reviews are written, and tourists start pouring through the door, we always take time to learn where we can - books, industry friends, mistakes, analytical experiments, classes. There always seems to be a nonstop search for knowledge in this industry.  

The first bottle being filled doesn’t stand as proof we know what we’re doing and we just run on autopilot, punching a clock, and waiting for Must See TV. We as an industry are thirstier than most. We want to know more about what we’re doing, and how to apply what we learn. 

I’m lucky enough to work at an educational distillery, Moonshine University, where we get a nonstop stream of talented, knowledge-thirsty distillers (and soon to be distillers). I, on a daily basis, get to be part of people’s journey to better understand this art and craft. 

ACSA members receive a 10% discount on all Moonshine Univerisity courses. Find out more about Moonshine University here.

Celebrate the Holidays with These Cocktail Recipes
Supercall is counting down the 12 Days of Christmas and the 8 days of Hanukkah with these wintry cocktails.

Esquire has the Best 13 Cocktails to keep you warm this winter.

Did we miss your favorite winter cocktail? Tweet us your recipe or a photo at @craftspiritsus!
Thank you to our Sponsors!
Here's to a Fantastic 2017!
American Craft Spirits Association