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June 2021 Editions

St. Augustine Distillery interior. Photograph courtesy of St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery interior. Photograph courtesy of St. Augustine Distillery

Permanent Federal Excise Tax reduction and loosening direct-to-consumer shipping laws breed optimism amidst ongoing challenges

By Jake Emen


After several rounds of temporary enactments, craft distillers have finally achieved permanent federal excise tax (FET) reduction with the passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act in December 2020. This keeps in place the temporary reduction of FET on spirits from $13.50 to $2.70 per proof gallon on the first 100,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually—a boon for craft distillers, as 98 percent of craft distillers in the country produce less than this annually, according to the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA).

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Posted by on in June 2021 Editions
Wilderton Lustre. Photograph courtesy of Wilderton

Wilderton Lustre. Photograph courtesy of Wilderton

Contemporary gins and new spirits categories drive innovative explosion in botanical offerings.

By Jack Robertiello


In the beginning, there was gin. More than one type, of course—genever, Old Tom, sloe gin, and more—yet ultimately the dominant style became London Dry, a bracing botanical spirit, tangy, and juniper-led.
But at the turn of the last century, as spirit entrepreneurs crowded the market with new ideas, the range of botanicals exploded, and gin became a more wildly diverse category, particularly with the creation of the low- or no-juniper, citrusy New Western Dry style. Gin distillers further made their marks by introducing a cornucopia of ingredients—chamomile, lavender, tea, mint, ginger, and far beyond.

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In his 93 years, Peter Frank has witnessed Prohibition, the Repeal of Prohibition, a World War, Space Walks and Moon Walks.  For much of his time he has been an active member of the beverage alcohol business. In fact, he holds the distinction of being the longest living director of the Maryland State Licensing Beverage Association (MSLBA) board.

What’s his secret?  “I’m not retired,” he said, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal. “But I think it’s important that when people do retire, they at least get into volunteer work. They need to keep active. If they don’t keep active, their mind will go, and then their body will follow. Not me! I’m 93 and I’m still pretty active. You have to stay with it. And to stay with it, that means keeping up with everything.”

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Some of the best days are golf days. You’re away from the demands of your business, your family, your day-to-day life, and it’s just you and the ball . . . and maybe two or three of your buddies or colleagues. You shot a pretty decent round, you’re feeling pretty good about yourself, and now you just want to relax at the clubhouse and have a drink. A beer is always good. So is a soft drink. But a lot of golfers will tell you that the best drink after 18 holes -- or at the turn -- is the Transfusion.

A mix of vodka, ginger ale, and grape juice, Transfusions are not only great to replenish the fluids, they’re also good to share in social circles. Now, Links Drinks LLC has come up with a canned, ready-to-drink version.  

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Even though restaurant and bar employment is trending higher, staffing levels remain well below normal.  According to Bruce Gindy at the National Restaurant Association, “Eating and drinking places added a net 187,000 [U.S.] jobs in April. While the trend-line is pointing in the right direction, eating and drinking places are still 1.7 million jobs (or 14%) below pre-pandemic levels.”

Why is the industry still 14% below pre-COVID staffing levels?

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