American Craft Spirits Association Monthly Mash: October 2017
I am pleased to be participating in the American Craft Spirit Association’s upcoming webinar. The details are below:
Craft Spirits Classroom: Quenching Your Thirst for Knowledge
Do You Have Questions About ACQUISITIONS? We Have Answers
Have you ever considered selling your distillery? During this webinar, presented by Ryan Malkin and Dan Gasper, we will delve into various options regarding a potential acquisition. Perhaps you’re entering into a national distribution agreement with a major supplier, selling just one brand under your umbrella, a strategic partnership, or simply walking away and making a complete sale.
Who: Ryan Malkin, pro bono counsel for ACSA whose practice focuses on the alcohol beverage industry (find out more below in our Q&A), and Dan Gasper, COO of Distill Ventures, who has presented webinars and classes for ACSA in the past including “Go Deep, Not Wide: Gaining Traction in One Market.”
When: Wednesday, October 18, 3:00-4:00 PM EDT
Level: All levels welcome!
In addition, please find a short Q&A:
A Q&A with Your ACSA Team
We asked two members of the ACSA family to answer a few questions about their experience in the craft spirits community and the challenges facing the industry. Read below to find responses from Jim Hyland, ACSA’s lobbyist on Capitol Hill, and Ryan Malkin, pro bono counsel for ACSA whose practice focuses on the alcohol beverage industry.
Can you describe the lobbying work you do for the industry?
Jim Hyland: “I work very closely with the ACSA President, Mark Shilling, Executive Director Margie A.S. Lehrman and our Legislative Committee. It is my job to promote our industry in the U.S. Congress, and to connect our members to their legislators. We have a weekly call with the President and Legislative Committee to discuss events and issues in Washington, DC. We also discuss strategy as to how we get the FET reduced for our members. I typically prepare a “white paper” for our industry and will often craft letters to Congress that ACSA sends on key issues. We held a very successful legislative fly-in in late July of this year, including a very well attended Congressional reception, a breakfast with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the most senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and our champion in the U.S. Senate, and lunch with Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) who Chairs the Ways and Means Committee, which is the key tax writing Committee in Congress.”
Can you describe the work you do in the spirits industry?
Ryan Malkin: “I focus on serving the legal needs of the alcohol beverage community. I regularly assist clients in navigating the intricacies of federal and state-by-state alcohol beverage laws and draft and review industry-specific agreements, such as distribution agreements, agency agreements, and bottling agreements. I am also proud to be pro bono counsel for ACSA.”
Where did your work in the industry begin?
RM: “Prior to forming Malkin Law, I was an attorney at Pernod Ricard USA and a former Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan. But my passion for the beer, wine and spirits industry began as a journalist focusing on the alcohol and hospitality industries, with articles appearing in publications such as SmartMoney, Beverage Media, Liquor.com, and Esquire.”
How have you seen the growth of craft spirits in the US?
JH: “I have been involved with the industry for approximately four years and even in this short period, the number of craft distillers has grown tremendously. Our conventions have grown larger each year. Craft cocktails have really taken off and our spirits are populating restaurants and bars all over the U.S. and even the world. As our industry has grown, this has positioned our industry very well to make progress at the state and federal level on regulatory and legislative relief.”
RM: “It’s been inspiring to see the growth of the craft spirits industry in the U.S. I love traveling to new cities and visiting the local distilleries. In nearly every major city, you can find a great craft distiller. As a spirits aficionado, I look forward to trying new products, neat or in an inventive cocktail.”
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the industry today?
JH: “Regulation and taxes. The alcohol industry is heavily regulated generally and spirits much more so. ACSA is looking for opportunities to provide regulatory relief for our small businesses with the TTB. Our first priority, however, is to reduce the FET for craft distillers. As we all know, craft distillers pay the full FET of $13.50 per proof gallon. Our friends in the beer and wine industry pay a reduced rate if they are of smaller size. We need parity for the spirits industry. We have made tremendous progress in the past few years. We have well over half the U.S. House signed on to a bill, H.R. 747, that would reduce this to $2.70 per proof gallon for craft producers. In the Senate, we are at fifty U.S. Senators signing on to S. 236 to accomplish the same reduced rate. With a major tax bill potentially coming in 2017 or 2018 future, ACSA is working hard to get this passed into law.”
RM: “Overall, I’d say distribution. With so many new distilleries, it’s difficult for all of them to gain distribution, sometimes even locally, but certainly outside of their home markets.“
What advice would you give to distilleries lobbying for the first time, either on a local, state, or federal level?
JH: “Begin developing a relationship with your locally elected officials, state legislators and congressmen. All politics is local and most politicians want to be responsive to their constituents. You can invite them to your distillery. You and other distillers can have a meeting with them while they are in the district to discuss the burdens our industry is facing. Seek out events they will be attending and introduce yourself. Not only is it good to know the elected officials, I always seek out the Chief of Staff and develop a relationship with them. All of this is so they know you and you know them. It will pay dividends when an important issue develops and we need grassroots help on a key vote, etc.“
What’s your favorite cocktail?
JH: “In the summer a gin and tonic and in the fall and winter, a Manhattan with any number of great American whiskies.”