Hello & greetings from Saint Michaels!I hope this message finds you well, warm, & happy — and of course, enjoying delightful spirits.Thank you so much for supporting our distillery this year and ordering via our online store for home delivery or curbside pickup — I can’t tell you how grateful we are to have been able to deliver LYON RUM (& Gray Wolf spirits & hand sanitizer!) to your door during this time. The governor’s executive order remains in effect, and we will continue to offer free delivery to all MD zip codes as long as we are allowed to do so!Home deliveries have given us an incredible opportunity to re-configure our business & customer service, while making the best decisions for the health and safety of our staff and community. The team here can’t thank you enough for ordering online! The distillery remains closed to the public, but has never stopped production, and we look forward to the day when we can safely welcome visitors back into our space.Today, 12/7/20 marks our 7th anniversary, and we raise a glass to everyone who helped us continue making & delivering the best spirits possible in this most challenging year. Should you find your bar cart in need of a refill, or are looking for some great gifts, please enjoy 20% off your next online order of all LYON rum with the code LUCKYINRUMHappy Holidays!Drink well & stay well ~
Jaime Windon, CEO/Founder, LYON RUM/Windon Distilling
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARYLAND DISTILLERIES EARN NATIONAL RECOGNITION IN READERS CHOICE POLL
LYON RUM, McClintock Distilling Co., and Sagamore Spirit among the best craft distilleries in the United States.
(MARYLAND) – LYON RUM and McClintock Distilling Co. claim “Best Craft Rum Distillery” and “Best Craft Vodka Distillery,” respectively, in a recent USA Today 10Best™ Readers Choice poll. McClintock Distilling Company also ranks fourth in top craft gin distilleries, while Sagamore Spirit comes in at fifth in the best craft whiskey distillery listing. Rounding out the representation of Maryland Distillers Guild members and earning top honors is Element Shrub, a non-alcoholic mixer producer, claiming “Best Craft Mixer” in the polling.
“We have a singular goal: to make remarkable American rum,” says Jaime Windon, CEO of Windon Distilling, maker of LYON RUM. “By focusing 100% on this spirit that we love, we purposefully set ourselves apart from the vast majority of craft distilleries that produce a range of distillates,” says Windon, who serves as president of the Maryland Distillers Guild. “I speak for my entire team when I say we are very proud to rank among a select few true American rum distilleries and are overjoyed to be recognized as the best and awarded this #1 honor by USA Today.”
Three Maryland distilleries were nominated by a panel of experts as the best craft distilleries producing gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey. Awards were also announced for the best craft brandy, cocktail, growing distillery, and specialty spirit. These categories feature distilleries or manufacturers from the United States, each of them nominated for crafting exceptional products.
“We were truly honored to win best vodka distillery in the country and fourth-best gin distillery from the competition,” explains Braeden Bumpers, co-founder of McClintock Distilling Company. “We were certainly surprised as a small, organic distillery to be considered in the competition and very thankful that our community supported us. We are proud to represent the growing and vibrant distilling community in our state and by joining [LYON RUM] and Element Shrub in taking top honors.”
Maryland and Texas stand out in this recent competition for having multiple local distilleries earning top placements in their nominated categories. The distilling industry in Maryland has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Spirits consumers can find locally distilled spirits, from more than 25 local distilleries, at retailers throughout the state. Most of the distilleries in the “Old Line State” offer retail options for on- and off-premise purchases and have made considerations to operate safely during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Through a 2020 executive order from Governor Hogan, the state’s distilleries may also ship spirits directly to Maryland consumers.
“I think this was a statement year that Maryland is quickly regaining our pre-prohibition reputation as making some of the best spirits in the country,” stated Bumpers.
About the Maryland Distillers Guild
Members of the Maryland Distillers Guild are a community of craft producers, dedicated to developing quality spirits and delivering a dynamic experience for visitors. We invite you to tour our distilleries, learn about our distilling processes, and sample locally-crafted spirits. Cheers to a rich heritage and spirited future!
Follow the Maryland Distillers Guild on Facebook (@marylanddistillers), Instagram (@marylandspirits), and Twitter (@marylandspirits). Up-to-date information about the Maryland Distillers Guild can be found by visiting https://marylandspirits.org.
September 28, 2020
As the owner of a craft distillery and the president of the Maryland Distiller’s Guild, I know how devastating an increase in alcohol taxes can be for small businesses like mine — especially as we are one of the hardest hit industries during COVID-19.
While headlines have focused on increased sales at liquor stores as people sheltered at home, this does not accurately portray the severe impact of the pandemic on the overwhelming majority of the hospitality industry — particularly as it relates to small-batch, locally-made alcohol. Maryland’s once bustling craft distilleries, breweries and wineries have had their tasting rooms and tours shut down for months due to the pandemic. Additionally, all of the local events and festivals where we would normally showcase and sell our craft products have also been canceled.
According to a study by the Distilled Spirits Council, the crushing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on craft distillers reveals that on average 41% of their sales evaporated and 31% of their employees have been furloughed.
Given the extreme challenges that many Maryland hospitality businesses are dealing with, it came as a shock to hear that some state legislators are calling for yet another tax increase on alcohol by raising the sales tax from 9% to 10%.
It’s hard to imagine a worse time to discuss increasing taxes on alcohol in Maryland.
Restaurants, bars and craft producers throughout the state are struggling and full recovery is a long way off. It will take even longer for these businesses to rebound if they are hit with a tax increase just as they begin to regain their footing.
I speak on behalf of Maryland’s alcohol producers — the hundreds of distillers, brewers and winemakers — who have shuttered their doors for months on end. We are working tirelessly to adapt and change business models based on state regulations in light of COVID-19, and still had to lay off large percentages of employees. My distillery, along with a vast majority of distilleries in Maryland, switched operations overnight to manufacture hand sanitizer for our first responders, partially with the generous donations of wine and beer from our fellow alcohol producers.
In many ways, we have proven we are here for the community — and while we support the use of state dollars to address health care disparities, we respectfully request that we not be the industry to shoulder this burden. The last time Maryland raised taxes on alcohol, the result was a 4% decline in alcohol sales statewide. As we strive to rebuild our businesses, the last thing we need is a deterrent to consumer spending.
The General Assembly should focus on ways to continue supporting the hospitality industry — as our distilleries, breweries, wineries, restaurants and bars work to rebuild and rehire employees — not cause further damage to an already decimated industry through increased taxes. While partial reopenings, outdoor dining and carry out orders have helped, the revenue produced from these sales pale in comparison to pre-pandemic levels. As it stands, the Restaurant Association of Maryland predicts up to 40% of Maryland restaurants may close permanently because of the pandemic.
To be clear, alcohol is already taxed twice in Maryland, at the production level (excise tax) and at the point of sale — at a rate of 9% — that is 50% higher than the 6% rate applied to other retail items, but also significantly higher than that of neighboring states.
Furthermore, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which makes permanent a federal excise tax reduction enacted in 2017, is set to expire this December unless Congress acts fast.
Small distillers, brewers and winemakers across state have used the tax savings to make significant investments in their businesses, hire new workers and support their local communities.
Without congressional approval, at the start of the new year craft distillers will be hit with a significant hike in their federal excise taxes from $2.70 per proof gallon to $13.50 per proof gallon.
Following an incredibly challenging year, a 400% excise tax increase on distillers will certainly thwart any chance at recovery, and discourage future growth of this industry, both in Maryland and across the country.
I am proud to have spent my life building a career in the hospitality industry — my fellow distillers, restaurateurs and hotel workers are among the most innovative, resilient and determined people I know. This is an industry that demands hard work, relentless effort and the ability to adapt to ever-changing trends and environments. I am confident it will survive, and eventually come back to thrive. But it cannot, and should not, be required to sustain additional stresses and shoulder the burden of a tax increase.
To read this Op-Ed at The Baltimore Sun, click here.
August 20, 2020
Bruce Schreiner, Associated Press
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States found that nationally, craft distillers will see an estimated 41% of their sales — worth more than $700 million — evaporate because of the pandemic.
To read more of this Washington Post article, click here.