Print this Page

Forgot Password?

Like Spirits?

Like DISCUS on Facebook

Stay updated on the latest issues impacting the spirits industry. The DISCUS Facebook page contains news clips, action alerts and opportunities to get involved. Like us now!

read more

There's no beverage of moderation, only the practice of moderation.

Understanding Moderation

Part of responsible drinking is understanding that a standard drink of beer, distilled spirits and wine each contains the same amount of alcohol. It's not what you drink, it's how much that counts.

read more

There's no beverage of moderation, only the practice of moderation.

Committed to Responsibility

For more than 75 years, the spirits industry has adhered to a rigorous set of standards for beverage alcohol advertising and marketing. Click here to learn more about the Code.

read more

Distilled Dispatch April 19 2016


April 19, 2016 | Volume 1, Issue 5
Kraig Naasz

President’s Perspective: 
Leading the Alcohol Policy Discussion


A who’s who of anti-alcohol activists gathered in Washington, D.C., earlier this month for the 17th Alcohol Policy Conference, a three-day meeting partially funded by the federal government.

Among the core objectives of the conference was to “advance ‘rational’ alcohol policies, with an emphasis on offsetting the public cost of alcohol use, by…influencing policy-making processes at local, state, national and international levels.”

So what do these activists consider “rational” policies?  A quick review of their conference program spells it out – a population-based control agenda aimed at attacking our sector.

Many of the approaches they advocate have been part of their playbook for years: raising alcohol taxes, banning advertising, reducing outlets, limiting access and opposing privatization and trade agreements, among others. What’s new, however, is the extent of apparent coordination among these activists around the globe.

The conference featured speakers from the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Thailand and Uganda, as well as officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and NABCA.

One new advocacy group, IOGT International (a Scandinavian temperance organization), led a session to “provide evidence that…the alcohol industry is the most destructive industry.”

Whether this sort of political activity should be funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars is a question worth asking.  Since it’s government funded, no one can be denied access and by attending we’re able to monitor their activities, get a glimpse at their latest advocacy-related “studies,” and peer into their policy playbook at the state, federal and international level.

The hospitality sector is one of the largest employers in the United States and millions of American adults enjoy our products in moderation.  The distilled spirits sector in particular has been applauded for its leadership in self-regulation and held up as a model for its Code of Responsible Practices.

While we continue to promote responsibility, it’s also critical that we push back on those activists who refuse to differentiate between moderate consumption and abusive consumption.

Federal Excise Tax Reduction Legislation Adds Cosponsors 

Legislation to reduce the federal excise tax (FET) on spirits, wine and beer is gaining momentum in the Senate. Twenty-four Senators have signed on as co-sponsors of the measure, including Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Patty Murray (D-WA).

The legislation includes a FET reduction on the first 100,000 proof gallons of distilled spirits to $2.70 per gallon for all distillers. The rate then rises to $13.34 after 100,000 gallons in production. 

For more information, please contact Senior Vice President for Government Relations Mark Gorman at (202) 682-8866 or

Working Together to Defend the Industry

Through a Distilled Spirits Council-led effort, the presidents of the Beer Institute, Wine Institute and Distilled Spirits Council jointly responded to a letter signed by 18 advocacy groups claiming the industry is “needlessly endangering youth” and urging the adoption of advertising “no-buy” lists. 

In responding to the groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for Science in the Public Interest and Public Citizen, the three associations pointed to the Federal Trade Commission’s most recent analysis of alcohol marketing placements which found that more than 94 percent of ads on national television and 98 percent of ads on local television met the alcohol sector’s adult demographic placement standard. 

The associations outlined the number of steps alcohol marketers take to direct their ads to adults and concluded by discrediting the advocates’ claim that advertising is driving an increase in underage drinking by highlighting government data showing that underage drinking has continuously declined over the past three decades and is at historic lows.

Council Challenges EPA’s Agriculture Overreach 

Agriculture is recognized as a renewable and sustainable resource around the globe with the production of crops accepted universally as carbon neutral by policymakers and scientists.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, has refused to recognize that agricultural feedstocks are carbon neutral. Instead the agency plans to penalize American farmers by counting carbon emissions from processing agricultural feedstocks as if they were fossil fuels. The EPA’s position is misguided and well outside the authority outlined by Congress under the Clean Air Act of 1973.

The Council is working with the Biogenic CO2 Coalition to seek fair, science-based treatment for agricultural products from the EPA.

Agriculture is part of the solution to reducing carbon dioxide, as the same or more carbon is absorbed by plants and soils as is released back into the atmosphere when the crops are used for food, fiber or fuel – and most importantly – distilled into our favorite spirits.

For more information, please contact Senior Vice President for Government Relations Mark Gorman at (202) 682-8866 or


Council Visits South Africa for Market Access Promotion

The Distilled Spirits Council hosted the "Great American Whiskey Experience" in Cape Town on April 12 and Johannesburg on April 14 for South African importers, distributors and retailers. The Council also co-hosted an American Whiskey Reception at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence on April 13.

The events, supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Market Access Program, are part of a series of international trade missions hosted by the Council featuring a presentation on the history and unique production process of American Whiskeys. These include a tasting of globally-recognized American Whiskeys, as well as brands not currently available in target markets.

Global U.S. spirits exports exceeded $1.5 billion in 2015, and have been on an upward trajectory thanks to increased popularity, stepped up trade promotion programs and implementation of market opening trade agreements. Uniquely American, Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey products are the leading categories of U.S. spirits exports, accounting for more than $1 billion in exports in 2015. U.S. spirits exports to South Africa in 2015 totaled over $15.7 million, with U.S. whiskeys accounting for 72 percent of the total (or $11.2 million).

For more information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Affairs Christine LoCascio at (202) 682-8894 or

Council Visits USTR to Talk Trade

Distilled Spirits Council President & CEO Kraig R. Naasz met with United States Trade Representative Michael Froman earlier this month to discuss the Council’s support for free trade. This followed an event in Seattle coordinated by the White House and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to discuss the benefits of the recently-concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement to the U.S. distilled spirits sector.

For more information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Affairs Christine LoCascio at (202) 682-8894 or

Industry Relations

Alabama Tastings Expansion Drives Spirits Premiumization

Alabama joined the trend of states modernizing Prohibition-era laws as Governor Robert Bentley earlier this month signed legislation permitting adults to sample spirits in retail stores.

The measure expands the current law by allowing tastings at off-premise retail or state liquor stores. This follows the already permitted on-premise tastings at venues such as restaurants.

This newly updated law allows retailers and industry representatives to conduct tastings events, which in turn generates interest in premium spirits products by allowing customers to try before they buy

For more information, please contact Vice President of State Government Relations David Wojnar at (774) 417-6909 or

Maine Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto for Data Collection Bill

The Maine legislature voted to require on-premise accounts to provide sales data to the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations (BABLO) earlier this month, overriding a veto from Governor Paul LePage. The measure was effective immediately following the 145-2 vote.

For more information, please contact Vice President of State Government Relations David Wojnar at (774) 417-6909 or

Industry Relations
Distilled Spirits Council President & CEO Kraig R. Naasz introduces Keynote Speaker David Gregory at the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America annual convention.
MGP President & CEO Gus Griffin gives Distilled Spirits Council President & CEO Kraig R. Naasz a tour of the Indiana distillery.
Distilled Spirits Council Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Frank Coleman with new Roll Call Editor in Chief Melinda Henneberger at the Council’s reception attended by 70 journalists celebrating her new role.

April 18-21
WSWA Convention & Exposition
Las Vegas, N.V. 

April 24-29
Distilled Spirits Council
American Whiskey Trail Media Tour
Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky

May 9-10
2016 Wine & Spirits Summit 
Miami Beach, Fla.

May 20-23
NABCA 79th Annual Conference
Orlando, Fla.

June 7-8
Distilled Spirits Council
Annual Policy Conference
Washington, D.C.


Copyright © Distilled Spirits Council. All rights reserved.

Distilled Spirits Council
1250 Eye Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 628-3544

© 2018 Distilled Spirits Council of the United States | Equal Opportunity Employer
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Inc., prohibits discrimination in its programs on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability, or other protected status.