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Whisky Advocate: Craft Distillers And Covid-19

May 11, 2020

Covid-19 has battered the entire whisky industry, but no one is struggling quite like the thousands of craft distillers across the United States. The pandemic has shuttered tasting rooms and disrupted distribution, cutting off crucial revenue streams, prompting staff cuts, and putting some at risk of permanent closure. While the larger craft distillers have the ability to weather the current crisis—even as they suspend operations or shift production capacity to making hand sanitizer—some smaller players foresee whiskey supply shortages down the road, or worse.

An April survey of over 150 distilleries by the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) showed that sales are down for nearly 85% of respondents, as a majority have closed tasting rooms, laid off or furloughed employees, and are depleting their remaining inventory as they allocate most of their production to hand sanitizer. Another survey, by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and the American Distilling Institute, shows that, across 118 distillery respondents, 43% of staff have been furloughed or laid off.

Yet the pandemic doesn’t have to spell doom, ACSA CEO Margie Lehrman says. “Solid, common-sense solutions”—like restaurants selling to-go cocktails, and more states allowing direct-to-consumer shipping—can allow drinkers to continue enjoying craft whiskey during lockdown. “For many of the craft distilleries that are actually able to benefit from one of these methods, I’m optimistic that they will come out on the other side of this with a strong ability to continue to produce,” she adds. Whisky Advocate has a full report.—Zak Kostro

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