Today is New Year’s Day. And that means that in my family we spend the evening meal going around the table and talking with one another about our resolutions for the coming year.
Yes, this is a bit corny. And yes, the teenager in the house seems to know that this is a bit corny. But my familial resolutions for 2018 do not include conforming our family’s traditions to his expectations. Go figure.
In addition to my personal and familial resolutions (e.g., I resolve to learn how to hand-cut dovetails with at least moderate proficiency), I have many professional resolutions for 2018 as well. And since I believe that telling people what you hope to accomplish encourages you to follow through, I’d like to share a few of those resolutions with you now. They are – in no particular order – as follows:
Help producers prepare for 2020. I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about the benefit that would come from a reduction in the federal excise tax affecting alcohol. And – as luck would have it – that reduction was passed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Hooray, right?
Well, sort of. The intent of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act was for the reduction in FET to be put into place in perpetuity. But that isn’t what happened. Rather, the reduction in FET is only in place for 2018 and 2019. Sure, it could be extended – and I certainly hope it is. But my fear is that 2020 will arrive without an extension.
As I see it, the current FET reduction is something like the teaser interest rate offered by a credit card. Sure, you may get cheap money for the time being – but at some point in the future you’re going to have to pay the bill. The last thing I want to see is for small producers to overextend themselves on the assumption that the FET reduction will stay in place, only to have the rug pulled out from under them in two short years. I resolve to help small producers prepare for 2020, by reminding them that – for the moment at least – this is a tax holiday rather than a long-term solution, and encouraging them to plan accordingly.
Expand the reach of the Washington Distillers Guild. For the past year, I’ve had the good fortune to serve on the board of directors of the Washington Distillers Guild – and I was just re-elected to serve a two-year term.
As part of my efforts on behalf of the Guild and its members, this year I will be taking over responsibility for the Guild’s events committee. So I’m going to be busy this year as I head up our efforts on the summer PROOF event, a possible refresh of the South Sound Spirits Gathering, and another to-be-named event which I would very much like to launch outside the I-5 corridor. And that is the main thrust of my 2018 resolution. I resolve to help the Guild better represent and benefit Washington distilleries that are outside the Seattle/Tacoma metro area.
Learn more about wine and beer. I confess to being a bit of a snob when it comes to my hooch. I tend to prefer the distilled stuff. In the darkest recesses of my mind, I’m afraid that I see beer primarily as whiskey that didn’t achieve its full potential. Wine too suffers, as it feels a bit like brandy that just didn’t quite do its best.
But the logical part of my brain knows that I am wrong about this – and that if I just do more study I’ll soon come to appreciate beer and wine for their own merits. So, in 2018 I resolve to learn more about beer and wine. After all, my Pacific Northwest home is a hotbed of excellent breweries and wineries so it isn’t as if I have limited opportunities to learn. [In fact, my good friend Chip Sellarole is teaching a class on wine in a couple of weeks at the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network – I need to sign up for that one.] Maybe I’ll even find a class or two on beer as well. I make it already – might as well learn more about it also.
Well, there you have it. Three of my professional resolutions for 2018. There are more. Things like – tasting new whiskies I’ve never tried, visiting distilleries in Japan, refreshing the look and feel of this blog and continuing to meet new friends in the world of spirits. I’ll try to write those down as well and add them as a page – so maybe that’s the final resolution I’ll mention here – I resolve to write down my resolutions so that I may be more likely to achieve them.
Wishing you and yours a happy and prosperous 2018.