Craft Spirits Weekly

Welcome to the 165th 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 Craft Spirits magazine and the American Craft Spirits Association.
ACSA Releases Statements on the COVID-19 Pandemic
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues, ACSA is here to help you navigate through these unprecedented times. As noted in a statement today from CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman , we’re working tirelessly to advocate for you, our community of more than 2,000 independent distilleries. We have also launched a COVID-19 page on our website , where we are sharing relevant resources, information and articles.

In Washington, D.C., ACSA is making extraordinary efforts to make Congress aware of the plight of small, craft distillers and to ensure that any measures passed provide meaningful relief to our industry. To learn more about how we are advocating to provide relief for workers impacted by the coronavirus, click the link below to read a statement from ACSA Public Policy advisor Jim Hyland. You can also scroll to the end of this email to see the full statement.
TTB Allows Distilleries to Make Hand Sanitizer Without Authorization
As the supply of hand sanitizers quickly diminished because of the coronavirus pandemic, many craft distilleries jumped in to begin producing their own sanitizers last week. On Wednesday, in a special edition of its newsletter, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced it would waive provisions and make exemptions for distilleries to legally produce hand sanitizers without obtaining authorization first. Click here to read the TTB's announcement in its entirety. ACSA is compiling a list of frequently asked questions about best practices for making hand sanitizers. If you have a question, please email us at .

To see a running list of distilleries that have made, are making or plan to make hand sanitizer, click here . If you are a distiller (or know of a distillery) that should be on this list, write to us at .
In Case You Missed It: ACSA Postpones Convention
One day after the World Health Organization officially announced that the coronavirus was a pandemic, ACSA postponed its 7th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show, which was originally scheduled to take place in late March in Portland, Oregon.

The postponement was announced soon after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said that the state of Oregon would prohibit gatherings of more than 250 people through April 8. Less than a week later, Brown said the state would ban gatherings of more than 25 people for a least a month, while also urging Oregonians to avoid being around more than 10 people.

We recognize many of you, like our ACSA team, have been preparing for over a year to visit Portland. We share your disappointment. Your health and safety, however, is our paramount concern so we fully intend to support the Governor’s ban to limit large gatherings and keep a social distance.  

We will notify you as soon as we reschedule. We cannot thank you enough for your understanding, support, and well wishes during a difficult time for all. We extend our heartfelt wishes that you and your families remain in good health.
Immediate Input Needed to Help Congress Understand COVID-19 Impact
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues and state and federal regulations evolve, we want to hear from you. Please take our survey to let us know what's happening in your distillery and how we can best serve you during this unprecedented time. This information will be of critical importance as we share with legislators to provide assistance.

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey below by midnight.
Poll Results: Effects of Coronavirus on Your Distillery
In our last installment of Craft Spirits Weekly, we asked if the coronavirus is impacting your distillery operations. Here are the results:

Yes: 72.2%

No: 13%

Unsure: 14.8%
Join us for Complimentary COVID-19 Webinars
On Tuesday, ACSA hosted the first of a lineup of webinars to keep our community informed. The focus on that session—which attracted more than a hundred of distillers—narrowed in on tasting room closures. A recording of that webinar is available here.

Tomorrow at 3 p.m. EST, we will host the next installment of the complimentary webinar series titled, "COVID-19 and Your Mental Health," hosted by Dr. Liz Hletko, PhD, Psychologist. In these uncertain times, it’s not uncommon to experience elevated feelings of panic, anxiety, or depression. Those of us who are already prone to anxiety or OCD may be having an especially hard time. Join us as we explore ways to stay mentally healthy and to help support mental health in our workplaces and homes.
Backwards Distilling Co. Launches Cocktail Tutorial Video Series
Soon after closing its tasting room due to the coronavirus, Backwards Distilling Co. of Casper, Wyoming, on Monday launched a video series to share cocktail recipes. In the first video from her home, Backwards co-founder and ACSA Board Member Amber Pollock demonstrated how to make an unnamed cocktail featuring Backwards Contortionist gin, cranberry juice, vanilla syrup, lemon juice and orange bitters. (
TTB Makes Exception to Returns of Products Purchased for Events
As a growing number of festivals and events are being canceled due to the coronavirus, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recently announced an exception to its policy on returns of products purchased for events. (
Publications Remove Paywalls for Coronavirus Coverage
As the coronavirus dominates headlines, numerous publications across the country are lifting their paywalls on content related to the coronavirus. Some of those newspapers include The New York Times , The Wall Street Journal , The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times . Magazine such as Vanity Fair , The Atlantic and New York magazine are also providing free access to coronavirus coverage. In the alcohol world, Wine & Spirits Daily has removed its paywall for the rest of March.
Austin 101 Light Whiskey Launches in Texas
Austin 101 Light Whiskey is now available in Austin, Texas. The Austin-made whiskey includes notes of vanilla and butterscotch with a hint of savory nuttiness and a long, mellow finish. (
From Craft Spirits Magazine: Safety Standards
For startup distilleries and established distilling companies alike, maintaining a safe environment is a must. While the rules and regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are just the beginning when it comes to workplace safety, they set a baseline of standards that all distilleries should follow. Kevin Yurt, the manager of safety and OSHA compliance and an OSHA authorized instructor at Industrial Safety and Training Services (ISTS) in Louisville, Kentucky, recently shared some insights on OSHA compliance.
Baltimore Spirits Co. Launches First Post Epoch Specialty Whiskey of 2020
Baltimore Spirits Co. has released the first specialty whiskey of 2020 from its Post Epoch line; one-time-only expressions of the distillery’s award-winning flagship Epoch Rye. The whiskey is available exclusively at the distillery's bottle shop in the Union Collective. (
Read the Latest Issue of Craft Spirits Magazine
In case you missed it, the latest issue of Craft Spirits magazine is online. Click here or on the cover photo to read the full issue.
Send News to Craft Spirits Magazine
Do you have exciting stories to share about your distillery? Keep us posted on new products, events, trends, tips and more by sending us a note at .
COVID-19 Statement from ACSA Public Policy Advisor Jim Hyland
Last Saturday, the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly to approve H.R. 6201, a bill to provide relief for workers impacted by the coronavirus. The bill passed by a large bi-partisan majority, with a vote of 363-40. Both President Trump and Speaker Pelosi supported the legislation. Significant corrections were made on Monday by voice vote.  

On Wednesday evening, the Senate approved the bill with no changes and it will now go to the President’s desk for his signature.  

The bill would  require employers with less than 500 employees to provide two work weeks of paid sick leave.  Workers would qualify for the benefit if they are sick and have to be quarantined or treated for coronavirus, or if they have to leave their jobs to take care of a family member who has coronavirus. 

Additionally,  workers would also be eligible for paid sick leave if they have to stay home  because they have a child whose school or childcare facility has closed due to the coronavirus. Additionally,  family and medical leave for employers with less than 500 employees would be extended for 12 weeks . The first two weeks would be at the full rate and the last 10 at two-thirds of their regular pay.

To help small businesses impacted by this, the legislation  gives employers a tax credit equal to 100% of paid sick leave wage benefits  they have paid out. The tax credit is allowed against the tax imposed by section 3111(a) (the employer portion of Social Security taxes).

The Senate will now consider a so-called “third” bill on coronavirus, one that could be as much as $1 trillion or more in stimulus. There are possible loan guarantees for impacted industries, and possible direct cash payments to workers.  

Additionally, the Secretary of the Treasury announced that the  April 15 deadline can be missed for tax payments with no penalties , for as much as 90 days. He also said the Federal Reserve will purchase as much as $1 trillion in commercial paper to maintain liquidity.  

As ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman has already echoed in her statement earlier today , in addition to keeping a close watch over the legislations above, ACSA is making extraordinary efforts to make Congress aware of the plight of small, craft distillers and to ensure that any measures passed provide meaningful relief to our industry. Our Board and Coronavirus Task Force also speaks daily in order to maintain an aggressive posture to blunt the impacts of this crisis.

Just yesterday, we joined beer, wine, spirits and cider to send a letter to the leaders of Congress asking for relief for our industry. ACSA also joined DISCUS and the New York and Kentucky distillers seeking the same. 

Finally, ACSA will be a seeking bigger and more fundamental request of Congress that would move our industry into the 21st Century, giving parity to our members in order to build small business and allow them to better weather a financial crisis.  

As Margie has mentioned already, we are here to support you, our nation’s community of craft distillers, and look forward to working together to advocate for much-needed relief in this time of uncertainty.

Jim Hyland
The Pennsylvania Avenue Group
Public Policy Advisor to the American Craft Spirits Association