StateWays - March/April 2017

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays | | March/April 2017 32 BY JACK ROBERTIELLO BY JACK ROBERTIELLO WHAT MAKES A WHAT MAKES A WHAT MAKES A WHAT MAKES A "WE FIND THAT CONSUMERS DO NOT HAVE A CLEAR DEFINITION OF CRAFT; IT IS MORE OF A TRADE TERM." —JEFF AGDERN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, NEW BRAND VENTURES FOR PERNOD RICARD USA WHAT EXACTLY IS A CRAFT SPIRIT? The answer depends on whom you ask. Numerous retail- ers have embraced the concept of American craft spirits as an effi cient marketing term, creating shelf areas to accommodate the explosion of new brands. Some small distillers lean hard on the term as a way to emphasize their farm-to-table bona fi des and stand out in a crowded market. Many of their brethren, however, turn up their noses as if they just smelled acetone in their whiskey when they hear the word. Journalists love to use "craft" as shorthand to describe a small distillery, but without much scrutiny into what makes an operation 'craft.' In other words, if craft is meant to stand for a specifi c type of production, or quality standard, or anything beyond a market- ing position, there's no universal defi nition. "We fi nd that consumers do not have a clear defi nition of craft; it is more of a trade term," says Jeff Agdern, senior vice president, new brand ventures for Pernod Ricard USA, which recently bought West Virginia distiller Smooth Ambler. "There is inconsistency in how to defi ne craft. We don't look at our brands as craft or non-craft. Brands like Smooth Ambler and Monkey 47 are brands that have an authentic heritage, prove- nance, passionate founders, strong distillation and a brand story to tell." Danielle Eddy has worked with small distillers as an advisor and publicist since 2009 and has seen the evolution of the term to become an all-encompassing, but not very meaningful, de- scriptor. "If I make you a macaroni necklace, and I sit down and make the pasta and dry it and weave the string and shave my

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