Spirited Advocate Podcast


About the Show

The Spirited Advocate Podcast brings together leaders in the distilled spirits industry to discuss pressing issues of the day. The spirits industry is comprised of so much more than alcohol producers– its farmers, manufacturers, distillers and more here in the U.S. and around the globe. Host Chris Swonger and his guests explore it all while enjoying their favorite cocktail or distilled spirit.

Interested in being a guest on the show? Email us at [email protected].

About the Host

With over 25 years of experience in the public and private sector, representing elected officials and three diverse, global consumer goods companies, Chris Swonger has led integrated corporate affairs strategies with responsibility for public affairs, international government affairs, corporate reputation management, corporate communications, brand public relations, philanthropy, social responsibility policy and programming with distinction.

Chris serves as the President & CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and Responsibility.org. DISCUS is the leading voice for distilled spirits in the U.S. market and serves as the industry’s advocate in state capitals, the nation’s capital and foreign capitals around the globe. Funded by leading distillers, Responsibility.org leads the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and promotes responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol.

Spirited Advocate Podcast) Episode 28: Dan Leese, Hotaling & Co.

With decades of experience in the industry, Dan Leese, CEO of DISCUS Member company Hotaling & Co. discusses the most pressing issues affecting the spirits industry. How will COVID-19 adaptations like ready-to-drink cocktails, direct-to-consumer shipping and cocktails-to-go evolve as we enter the new normal? And where do the brands in Hotaling's portfolio fit into the equation? All this and more in this week's episode of the Spirited Advocate podcast!

Spirited Advocate Podcast) Episode 27: Jane Bowie, Maker’s Mark

With 14 years at Maker's Mark under her belt, Jane Bowie knows a thing or two about crafting a timeless bourbon and an iconic brand. Jane, director of innovation for Maker’s Mark and a Kentucky native, talks about the depth of possibilities for bourbon, how the iconic red wax drip on Maker's Mark bottles came to be (hint- think cognac) and her experience in a male-dominated industry. How did Maker's Mark go from the scrappy new kid on the block selling one drink at a time, to the iconic brand we know and love today? Find out on this week's episode of the Spirited Advocate.

Spirited Advocate Podcast) Episode 26: Tracie Franklin

Whiskey educator Tracie Franklin is on a mission to change the face of whiskey by adding her voice and showing how inclusive the whiskey industry can be. Her enthusiasm is contagious as she recalls her time in theater to her ambassadorship for Glenfiddich to becoming the first head distiller apprentice chosen for the Nearest and Jack Advancement Initiative. Tracie discusses the barriers to entry into the whiskey world and how we can move towards taking exclusivity out of the industry. Actor, soon-to-be head distiller, teacher, advocate and so much more, we’re so thrilled to share this conversation with Tracie Franklin.

Spirited Advocate Podcast) Episode 25: Brough Brother’s Distillery

Two of the three "Brough Brothers" discuss what it's like to create the first Black-owned bourbon brand in Kentucky, giving back to their community and making their mark in history among other Louisville greats like Muhammad Ali. From making a smooth bourbon loved by all drinkers to dealing with the challenges of starting a business amid a global pandemic, Victor and Chris Yarborough speak to their experiences charting their own path in the distilled spirits industry. All that and more on this episode of the Spirited Advocate Podcast.

Spirited Advocate Podcast) Episode 24: Ron Gomes, Painted Stave Distillery

As owner of the only Black-owned distillery in Delaware, Ron Gomes is redefining the spirits industry and making great drinks along the way. His path to craft distiller is unlike any other and his background in science makes for an interesting perspective on how spirits should be made. Gomes speaks to the challenges he’s faced in starting Painted Stave Distillery to remaining viable during the pandemic, noting that part of surviving as a small business is always remaining nimble.

Spirited Advocate Podcast) Episode 23: John Ralph, Intrepid Spirits

John Ralph, CEO and founder of Intrepid Spirits, got his start in the spirits industry nearly 20 years ago and has worked in Ireland, China and now the U.S. From reviving old brands to building new ones, John covers his "digital-first" approach during COVID times and what shifts in the market we can expect to see even after the end of the pandemic. From comparing different markets to describing his favorite bar, he and host Chris Swonger dive into all things spirits on this episode.