2016 Distillers Convention Program

*Please note that program is subject to updates and changes.

Register for ACSA’s 3rd Annual Distillers Convention Today!

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DISTILLINIOS:  Tuesday, March 1st, 5:30 – 10:30pm, Logan Square Auditorium
A consumer tasting event showcasing Midwestern craft spirits (& friends) and kicking-off the convention in Chicago. Brought to you by the Illinois Craft Distillers Association.  Tickets are limited (additional fees apply).

Monday & Tuesday, February 29th & March 1st, 9:00am – 5:00pm, Chicago Distilling Company
Master Distiller, Dave Pickerell teams up with the Chicago Distilling Company for an intensive two-day craft distillation class. The hands-on course is geared toward distillers in established DSP’s who wish to take their distillation practices & procedures to a more advanced level.  Space is limited and will sell out (additional fees apply). Downloadable PDF

THE BARREL BUS RUN: Tuesday, March 1st, 9am – 4pm
Departing from and returning to the Palmer House Hilton Hotel
See and experience a sampling of Chicago’s Distilleries aboard a barrel on wheels!
This unique experience is open to the first 35 registrants (additional fees apply).


Wednesday, March 2nd, the Palmer House Hilton Hotel

7:30am – 9:00am BREAKFAST BUFFET – The Grand Ballroom

9:00am – 9:15am WELCOME AND CONVENTION OPENING – The Grand Ballroom
Tom Mooney, ACSA Board of Directors President, Co-owner, House Spirits
Margie A.S. Lehrman, ACSA Executive Director 

9:15am – 9:45am KEYNOTE ADDRESS – The Grand Ballroom
The Person At the Top of the Mountain Didn’t Fall to Get There
Eli Aguilera, Vice President, Spirits, Total Wine & More

9:45am – 11:30am TOWN HALL MEETING – The Grand Ballroom
The State of Your Association:  What’s New within ACSA 
What’s New On Capitol Hill:  The Fight to Reduce the FET
ACSA Board of Directors and James E. Hyland, ACSA Lobbyist, The Pennsylvania Avenue Group

10:30am – 6:00pm   VENDOR TRADE SHOW – Exhibit Hall

11:30am OFFICIAL VENDOR WELCOME – Exhibit Hall 

11:45am – 12:45pm   CHICAGO-THEMED LUNCH STATIONS  – Exhibit Hall and the Grand Ballroom

1:00pm – 2:00pm BREAK OUT SESSIONS I

SAFETY – PART I – The Grand Ballroom
Pressure: Lessons Learned – Keeping Your Employees, Equipment, Spirits & Business Safe
A look at common hazards in distilling operations, the protection of property and life and what carriers look for during an inspection. Additionally, we will take a look at past distillery accidents and what they have in common. Kevin S. Getz, Target Markets Manager – Craft Beverage, Cincinnati Insurance; John McGree, Senior Vice President, Payne West Insurance; Mike Delaney, State Agent, Cincinnati Insurance; John McKee, Co-owner and Founder, Headframe Spirits; Mike Sherman, Vendome Copper & Brassworks

2:15pm – 3:15pm SAFETY – PART II – The Grand Ballroom
Code Breaking Barrels: Revealing the mysteries of Barrel Storage in Building and Fire Codes
A complete barrel storage code analysis for barrel warehousing, includes specific risk analysis associated with a high quantity of casks, requirements for various racking and stacking methods and current insurance industry research on barrel storage.  Scott & Colleen Moore, Dalkita Architecture and Construction

1:00pm – 3:00pm TECHNICAL – The Chicago Room
The Whole Package: The Technical Aspects on Selecting the Right Glass, Labels and Closures for 
YOUR Spirits Brian Christiansen, Editor & Publisher, Artisan Spirit Magazine; Doug Laib, O-I,
Jack Vogel, Ft. Dearborn Labels and Kevin Dunbar, Tapi USA

3:30pm – 4:30pm BREAK OUT SESSIONS II
– The Grand Ballroom
How to Create Brilliant Brands: Many of most successful drinks brands of the past decade have had brilliant liquids, compelling stories and used clever strategies to create passionate consumers. We will identify what you can learn from these successful brands & share our proprietary framework to help identify what you can do to make your products win the hearts of more customers! 
Dan Gasper, COO, Distill Ventures

TECHNICAL – The Red Lacquer Room
Flavor Profiles: Research on the Effects of Different Charring and Toasting of Oak Barrels and
Whiskey Maturation Jeff LaHue, Independent Stave Inc. and Orlin Sorenson, Woodinville Whiskey 

BUSINESS – The Chicago Room 
TTB Audit: How to Avoid, Manage, or Invite an Audit 
Scott McLaughlin, Auditor, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

4:30pm – 5:30pm BREAK OUT SESSIONS III 
– The Grand Ballroom 
Game Changer: Emerging Trends and How Millennials are Changing the Game for Craft Spirits Branding 
Millennials consume products and media differently than any other generation before them. He will discuss why you should care about this group of consumers who represents 1.87 Trillion in total spending power and why they represent the largest growth segment of the spirits market now and into the future. A look at how they spend their money on alcohol, what’s hot and what’s not and why big brands should be worried.
Dave Schuemann, CF Napa  

4:30pm – 5:30pm TECHNICAL – The Red Lacquer Room 
All the Chemistry You’ll Ever Need to Know: The Good the Bad & the Not So Nice
John Jeffery, Santa Fe Spirits and Gary Spedding, Brewing & Distilling Analytical Service

BUSINESS – The Chicago Room 
Contract Bottling: The Ins & Outs of Contract Bottling Relationships – Both Perspectives 
This panel will delve into the relationship between distillers producing spirits for customers and those brands who contract with distillers to make their spirits. You will hear experiences from both sides of the agreement and walk away with do’s and don’ts for entering into a contract bottling relationship.
Ryan Malkin, Malkin Law, P.A.; Jason Barrett, Black Button Distilling; Tommy Brunett, Iron Smoke Whiskey; Kent Cheeseman, High West and Russell Dodge, Hood River Distillers

5:00pm – 6:30pm HAPPY HOUR – Vendor Trade Show Floor – Exhibit Hall & the State Ballroom

A look at five very different distilleries and why their geography and unique go-to-market strategies make them so diverse.  With highlights on how each capitalizes on the opportunities and overcomes the challenges that they face in their tasting rooms. Be prepared to ask questions & taste their spirits! 
Nick Nagle, Co-Founder, Owner & Farmer, Whiskey Acres; Noelle DiPrizio, Vice President, Chicago Distilling; Matt Blaum, Co-Founder, CEO & Distiller, Blaum Brothers Distilling; Bill Welter, Owner, Journeyman Distillery and Valerie Tergerson, Tasting Room Manager, Great Lakes Distillery

6:30pm – 8:00pm AWARDS DINNER – The Grand Ballroom

Presenting Medalists, Best in Class and the Best of Show

9:00pm – 11:00pm TASTING OF JUDGED CRAFT SPIRITS – Location to be Announced at Dinner

Thursday, March 3rd, the Palmer House Hilton Hotel

7:30am – 9:00am BREAKFAST BUFFET – The Grand Ballroom

9:00am – 4:00pm VENDOR TRADESHOW – Exhibit Hall

9:00am – 10:00am BREAK OUT SESSIONS I 
– The Grand Ballroom
Spirits Industry Update: What’s Up Ahead for the 3-Tier System?
Thomas Mooney, President, ACSA, Moderator; Craig Wolf, President & CEO, WSWA (Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America); John Bodnovich, Executive Director, ABL (American Beverage Licensees); James Sgueo, President & CEO, NABCA (National Alcohol Beverage Control Association); Brett Pontoni, Specialty Spirits Buyer, Binny’s Beverage Depot

SAFETY – The Chicago Room 
OSHA & Employee Matters, Fisher & Philips, LLP

TECHNICAL – The Red Lacquer Room 
Expansion: The Benefits of Using Process Engineers to Scale and Automate Your Production Facility
Increasing yields, efficiencies and other processes to get the best bang for your buck without sacrificing quality or craft.  Rob Masters, President, Epic Distilling; James Ludford-Brooks, Process Manager – Engineering, Briggs of Burton and Scott Davies, Business Development – Distilled Spirits, Briggs of Burton

10:15am – 11:15am BREAK OUT SESSIONS II 
– The Grand Ballroom
Getting The Money: Bank Financing and Equity. What’s required for success in raising each. Stories of success from practitioners who are currently raising financing for artisan spirits growth. John Fisher, Fisher & Co and Jeff Clark, Live Oak Bank

TECHNICAL – The Red Lacquer Room
Grind Profiles and the Effects on Yield Impact: Results of Research Studies Conducted at Michigan State University.  Mike Scanzello, Breiss Malt

MARKETING – The Chicago Room
Standing Out on the Shelf: The art of branding with the latest trends in label art and bottle design.
Noah Rothbaum, Author and Brand Consultan; Franck Collet, Saverglass; Giles Hanson, Lead Inventor at ?What If! USA

11:30am – 12:30pm BREAK OUT SESSIONS III
– The Grand Ballroom 
Craft Spirits Acquisitions, Exit Strategies, and Mergers: Explore the key contributors and metrics that make a craft spirits brand valuable. Discover the “6 P’s model” used to evaluate brands with tried and true success factors.  Observations and experience from the sellers perspective.  Tom Steffanci, Deustch Family Wine & Spirits and Dave Schmeir, Indie Spirits Expo and Co-founder Redemption Rye

11:30am – 12:30pm TECHNICAL – The Chicago Room 
A Changing Climate: What it Means to You and the Future of Your Business 
Dr. Mike Hoffman, Associate Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Director of Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station

DISTRIBUTION – The Red Lacquer Room 
Voices From the Front Lines: Strategic Sales and Distribution Management
Experiences and practical lessons for managing the complexities of both an internal sales force and distributor relations. Greg Mauloff, Director of Sales, Thoroughbred Spirits Group; Jason Griffin, Business Development Manager, Breakthru Beverage Group; Jay Erisman, Vice President, New Riff Distilling

12:30pm  – 1:30pm  LUNCH BUFFET – The Grand Ballroom

1:30pm – 2:30pm BREAK OUT SESSIONS IV
– The Grand Ballroom
Labeling and Trademarks: The Not-So-Obvious Considerations with Spirits Labels  
Dan Christopherson, Trademark & Compliance Attorney and John Messinger, Alcohol Beverage Compliance Attorney, Lehrman Beverage Law, PLLC

MARKETING – The Red Lacquer Room
Brand Ambassadors: What Can They Do For You? Why and How to Deploy a Brand Ambassador
A focus on expectations from the perspective of the distiller, ambassador, distributor and account owner.
Tony Bagnulo, Brand Consultant to Micro-distilleries; Martin Duffy, US Representative, Glencairn Crystal; Sarah Macfarquhar, Distillery Brand Ambassador, North Shore Distillery; Craig Hiljus, Craft Division Manager, Windy City Distributing; Aaron Zacarias, Owner of Multiple Chicago Area Bars

Exporting: Pitfalls and Benefits. A discussion on the many issues a growing company should consider before making this next step to sell products in the international market. Paul Hletko, Founder & Distiller, Few Spirits; Robert Birnecker, Master Distiller & CEO, Koval Distillery; Linda Robinson, President of Pacific Wine & Spirits Inc.; Andrew Tice, Head Distiller and Director of Production, House Spirits Distillery;
Adam Spiegel, Founder and Distiller, Sonoma County Distilling Company

2:45pm – 3:45pm BREAK OUT SESSIONS V
– The Red Lacquer Room
Working With The Media: How to Build Meaningful Relationships with the Media
Leading spirits journalists, both from trade and national consumer outlets, discuss how to work collaboratively to move our craft distilling industry forward. Alexandra Sklansky, Founder & President of GATHER PR; Emily Pennington, Managing Editor, Wine & Spirits Daily and Jason Horn, Playboy.com

RESEARCH – The Chicago Room 
Dynamic Growth of Growth: Some Facts to Guide your Story (Retail and Consumer Insights Relevant to Craft Spirits) This session will examine several factors that provide context for the dynamic growth of Craft Spirits now and into the future, as well as the latest Nielsen numbers that quantify its growth.    
Danny Brager, Senior Vice President, Beverage Alcohol Practice, Nielsen & Associates

Hooch: Politics and Mechanics at the State & Local Levels
Nicole Austin, ACSA Guild Committee Chair, Kings County Distillery

4:00pm – 5:00pm Quantifying the Impact of the American Craft Spirits Industry – The Grand Ballroom
While American craft spirits are demonstrating notable growth, the true impact of the sector remains evidenced more by anecdotes than a viable data-driven fact base. The American Craft Spirits Association, the International Wine and Spirits Research, and Park Street have teamed up to launch a research project with the goal to provide a solid and reliable fact base for evaluating performance and trends in the craft spirits industry. The stakeholders for this data are all industry members, including but not limited to distillers, farmers, distributors, retailers, consumers, service providers, and regulators, both on the federal and state level.  Additional stakeholders include investors and employees within and behind such entities.  A more fragmented and decentralized industry will require larger investments by all stakeholders. The desired fact base will help all concerned to make their respective investment cases and vastly improve an understanding of the full impact at a regional, local, and federal level. The presentation will provide some background on the research project as well as preliminary findings. Harry Kohlmann, Ph.D., CEO, Park Street; Adam Rogers, Head of Special Projects, The International Wine and Spirits Research

5:00pm – 6:00pm LAST CALL – The Grand Ballroom
MEET THE CANDIDATES: 2016 Nominees for the ACSA Board of Directors


Download Current Convention Program