This quarter’s guild report is highlighted by festivals, regulation changes, and a bittersweet goodbye to one of our favorite guild presidents, the newly elected mayor of Salida, CO, P.T. Wood! As he steps down from the board after three years, it offers a reminder that state distilling guilds are organized, and often formed by dedicated people hoping that the organization will long outlast its founding members. So thank you to all the elected and volunteer board members. Your time and dedication have left their mark.
Distillers Guild of Alaska
Since the passing of HB309 in 2014, which allowed for tasting rooms in Alaskan distilleries, the state’s distilleries have been showcasing their spirits not only with small free samples, but also through cocktails which may be purchased. However, distilleries were dealt a blow this fall when the state’s alcohol regulatory board, AMCO, reinterpreted the tasting room statute to say that distilleries could no longer serve their spirits mixed with anything, prohibiting even the mixing of spirits with water or ice. Language in the advisory notice was later changed to allow for mixing with only things produced on-site, meaning that purchased tonics, juices and sodas are banned. Distilleries across the state, legislators who sponsored HB309 and the public are advocating to reinstate mixed drinks in the tasting room without such prohibitive regulation.
Despite the current hurdles, Alaska’s craft distilling industry is still enjoying healthy growth. The Distiller’s Guild of Alaska has grown to eight voting members, with nine active DSPs in the state and one more on its way. We held our annual Membership Meeting in September and have a number of new participants on the Board of Directors. Following the membership meeting, many distilleries participated in the second annual Alaska Crafted Event, where we sampled our spirits and cocktails to event-goers.
Maura Selenak & Brandon Howard
Co-founders, Amalga Distillery
Colorado Distillers Guild
It is mid-October as I write this quarter’s Colorado Guild report, and I am preparing for our Annual Meeting in Breckenridge. It is with a bit of melancholy but a lot of excitement that I write what will be my last Colorado Guild report. After three years as President I will be resigning at the end of this term. I have decided to run for Mayor of my adopted home town Salida and want to be sure I can focus on that job as well as the ACSA. I am very proud of the accomplishments we as a board have achieved in Colorado: We have grown to over 50 members, had numerous wins on capitol hill that have saved our members’ money and improved the business climate, we have built a reputation with the LED and our state legislator as a serious, engaged, and powerful organization that needs to be at the table, and most exciting is the launch this fall of our Colorado Distillery Trail. I wanted to thank all the distillers in Colorado who have put their faith in me over the last three years, it has been a privilege to work on your behalf. I will continue to help with legislative affairs and be an active member of the guild. I will also continue to serve as the ACSA VP and chair the state guild committee. I look forward to sharing another dram with all of you!!
President, Colorado Distillers Guild
Vice President, ACSA
Chair, ACSA State Guild Committee
Wood’s High Mountain Distillery
Connecticut Spirits Guild
The CT Spirits Trail & Guild members continue to work together to market ourselves to boost visitor-ship across the Constitution State. Recently we were featured at a Yelp event that promoted our brands and our Trail while at the same time raising money for victims of hurricanes in Florida, Puerto Rico, and Texas.
As I write this report, our Connecticut State Legislature which is grappling with putting the final agreements together to ratify our long-awaited state budget; this is the longest period of time that our state has operated without an official budget. This has continued to delay our efforts with the legislature to hopefully widen CT tasting room laws and in general make it easier for us to do business. One law change did go into effect on October 1 that promotes farm-based distilleries by reducing the cost of a state annual manufacturer permit to $300. The hope is that this will facilitate additional farm-based distilleries in our state. While Connecticut is a densely populated, highly urbanized state we also have our share of wonderful farmland, which produce high quality crops and could offer wonderful tourism experiences.
Cheers to a great O-N-D, everyone!
Hartford Flavor Company
President, CT Spirits Guild/Trail
Massachusetts Distillers Alliance
In the past months, the Massachusetts Distillers Alliance has been working with the state’s Alcohol Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) in its yearlong assessment of ongoing issues affecting the industry.
In 2017, the Massachusetts ABCC established this Task Force to review legal and regulatory structures. The MDA has spent time in town hall meetings along with smaller ABCC Work Groups — specifically Public Health and Safety and Sales Tax.
Others participating in these groups were manufacturers, retailers, distributors and health and safety organizations. MDA concerns of a sales tax harming Massachusetts distilleries were voiced, and a final report will be forwarded by year’s end from these Work Groups to the state.
For more information, find us at www.massdistill.com.
Massachusetts Distillers Alliance Board
Andrew Cabot — Privateer Rum
Alison DeWolfe — Damnation Alley Distillery
Matt Nuernberger — GrandTen Distilling
Andrew L. Cabot
President, Privateer Rum
Michigan Craft Distillers Association
In September, the Michigan Craft Distillers Association (MCDA) hosted its inaugural “Michigan Distilled” festival featuring 20 members serving a variety of cocktails featuring gin, rum, whiskey, vodka and other spirits. More than 500 people were in attendance in the outdoor festival held at the historic Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids. In addition to the distilleries, guests were treated to local barbecue and other foods, fresh brewed coffees and live music. Founded in 2014, the MCDA currently represents more than 30 craft distilleries throughout the state. For more information, visit MiCraftSpirits.com.
Michigan Craft Distillers Association
New Mexico Distillers Guild
The New Mexico Distillers Guild has grown in membership from 5 to 8 with the addition of Glencoe Distillery (near Ruidoso, NM), Still Spirits and Hollow Spirits (both in Albuquerque, NM). In September we hosted our first guild-only event in conjunction with Somos ABQ, a celebration of all things Albuquerque and New Mexican. Though the weather was a little touchy at our rooftop location on a restored downtown building we were well received and look forward to building on the momentum for future events. The NMDG is preparing for the upcoming legislative session when continued efforts toward state excise tax parity and retail reciprocity with craft wineries and breweries will top our agenda.
Dr. Greg McAllister
New York State Distillers Guild
In the land of the lotus eaters time plays tricks on you, what was just yesterday is now tomorrow. 2017 brought with it challenges to face and many opportunities for growth.
October saw the launch of New York Rye Week and with it the premiere of the exciting new Empire Rye designation of rye whiskey.
New York Rye Week was dedicated to establishing a whiskey style for the Empire State. This whiskey is to be as distinctive, precisely crafted and held to as high a standard as any of the illustrious whiskey styles in the world. Each distiller’s bottling of Empire Rye is crafted in accordance with the same exacting specifications and yet each is given ample space to express their creativity. In time, the hope is that more New York distillers will choose to produce a rye whiskey in accordance with these standards and make the category of Empire Rye known throughout the world.
This fall we were busy readying the logistics and structure for the inaugural NY Distilled Spirits Competition to be held next year. Starting a solely New York spirits competition is something that has been on our minds for quite some time and we’re incredibly eager to begin accepting submissions starting this winter.
As we prepare for 2018 our board of directors has three seats up for election this January. This election marks the changing of the guard with the departure of a long-time board member and one of the guild’s founders, Brian McKenzie of Finger Lakes Distilling. We look forward to welcoming new faces and fresh eyes to aid us in the challenges that face our industry here in New York and beyond.
Our collective success is proof that this new craft consumer culture that has taken hold of our nation is changing the way people think and drink. There were a few memorable moments over this last year where I was confronted with people in our industry that had completely embraced its competitive nature. They did this not through aggressive sales tactics or marketing budgets, but though their willingness to cooperate in the big picture. Each one of us, distillers and otherwise, we are much stronger together than we ever could be apart.
Lockhouse Distillery – Buffalo, NY
President – New York State Distillers Guild
Tennessee Distillers Guild
In June 2017, the Tennessee Distillers Guild launched the official Tennessee Whiskey Trail, a 26-distillery tour across the state. The Trail is a joint effort by the Guild membership to highlight Tennessee whiskey and moonshine, as well as the craftsmen and women that make them. The Guild’s objective with the Tennessee Whiskey Trail is to put an international spotlight on Tennessee and its whiskey. So far, thousands of people from all over the world have already grabbed their passports and hit the Trail to get a taste of the Tennessee whiskey experience.
The Tennessee Whiskey Trail consists of 26 distilleries ranging from boutique-sized distilleries to large internationally-recognized operations that span from East to West Tennessee. On the Trail, visitors can get an inside look at the art of distilling Tennessee whiskey and learn about the history and culture of whiskey-making that is legendary in our state. Visitors collect stamps in a free passport booklet or check in using the free TN Whiskey Trail app at participating distillery locations. Those who collect all 26 stamps receive a commemorative gift to mark their achievement.
The Guild announced the Trail’s launch at The Factory in Franklin, TN on June 19 amid great fanfare and will celebrate the achievements of the first Trailblazers to complete the Trail at the second annual Grains & Grits Festival on Nov. 4 in Townsend, TN. A one-year anniversary party for the Trail’s launch is also being planned for 2018. Stay tuned.
Founder | Huckleberry Branding
Distillers Guild of Utah
The guild is putting together a referral card for each distillery to direct patrons to the other distilleries in the guild. In addition, we are planning to have an annual tasting event late spring for guild members to showcase their products.
Ethan S. Miller
Head Distiller, Co-owner — Holystone Distilling
President —Distillers Guild of Utah
Washington Distillers Guild
The Washington Distillers Guild is delighted to announce that Susan Welch has accepted the position of Executive Director, beginning immediately.
Susan has been involved in the sales and marketing of malt to the brewing industry—both internationally and in the US—for 28 years. She is currently the 1st Vice President of the Master Brewers Association of America (MBAA), and has chaired the Education Committee for several years. Susan has a Masters degree in International Business, and has been on boards or chaired committees on several large boards throughout her career. We’re delighted to have attracted such talent, and look forward to how the WDG can grow with Susan as ED.
The WDG is also preparing to drop an omnibus bill during the short legislative session starting January 2018. Details of the bill will be available when the full scope of it is approved by the board. Contact President@WashingtonDistillersGuild.org for more info.
And finally, the Washington Distillery Trail Phase 1 web site is almost complete and will launch soon. The site will be available at www.washingtondistillerytrail.com.
Copperworks Distilling Co.
Wyoming Distillers Guild
The Wyoming Distillers Guild recently held its latest meeting on the 11th of October. We are pleased to see the industry expanding in our lightly populated state, with two new DSP members joining, bringing our Class A membership growing to soon include seven Wyoming DSPs. Welcome Chronicles Distilling (Cheyenne) and Pine Bluffs Distilling (Pine Bluffs)!
We worked hard and had a very successful 2016-17 state legislative session, where we successfully lobbied arm-in-arm with the Wyoming Liquor Division and Wyoming State Liquor Association to revamp some antiquated laws that posed serious risks for our industry. Now our focus, like most distillers’ guilds across the country, is to continue to garner support for the Craft Beverage Modernization Act. The bipartisan majority support we are seeing across the nation is encouraging, but we know there is still plenty of work to be done. As a guild and individually, we will continue to reach out to our representatives, senators, wholesalers, suppliers, farmers, and quite frankly everyone that has anything to do with our business. Our fearless leader and guild president, Amber Pollock (Backwards Distilling) traveled to Washington D.C. this summer to continue the federal legislative efforts toward eventual FET reduction.
There are still a few state laws that are inhibiting our ability for growth, so we will continue to fight the good fight. Primarily we are looking toward having the ability use our liquor license to host public events off-site from our distillery, such as Farmers’ Markets, concerts, community fundraisers, etc. This would be a very significant benefit to all of us to allow us to market more directly to our end consumer, and help generate a buzz in our communities.
Secretary, Wyoming Distillers Guild
Partner, Jackson Hole Still Works
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