Spirited Advocate Podcast

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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 11) Agave Loco’s Tom Maas on 3 Decades in the Industry

From Al Capone’s influence on the spirits industry to cosmopolitans in Sex and the City, Tom Maas, CEO of Agave Loco, shares what he’s learned over more than three decades in the distilled spirits industry. A self-proclaimed “bullish” entrepreneur, Maas dives into what it was like working for big names like Jim Beam and Jack Daniels and then going out on his own to start Agave Loco and RumChata.

Spirited Advocate Podcast: Episode 10) Breakthru Beverage with Danny Wirtz

Vice Chairman of Breakthru Beverage Group Danny Wirtz joins the Spirited Advocate Podcast to bring a wholesaler's perspective. He discusses how the spirits industry must maintain responsibility as the market evolves, his family-owned and operated business and his new role as the chairman of WSWA.

Spirited Advocate Podcast: Episode 9) A Toast to Diageo’s Deirdre Mahlan

In one of her last interviews as president of Diageo North America, Deirdre Mahlan reflects on how the spirits industry has changed over the years and looks forward to all the great things to come. From trends in the marketplace to Deirdre's accomplishments and their favorite drinks, host Chris Swonger covers it all while toasting to a new chapter after Deirdre's retirement. (Note: Deirdre Mahlan officially retired on June 30, 2020.)

Spirited Advocate Podcast Episode 8) Bourbonism: Congressman John Yarmuth

Congressman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) – co-chair of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus – joins host Chris Swonger to talk all things bourbon, including its mystique and what "Bourbonism" means. The two also touch on the negative impacts of tariffs, the need for economic relief for craft distillers and current events.

Spirited Advocate Podcast: Episode 7) Jim Canepa: Turning Ohio’s Liquor Division Around

Host Chris Swonger is joined by Jim Canepa, superintendent of the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, to discuss how he took the state’s distilled spirits operations from “dumpster fire” to one of the best control states in the nation. David Wojnar, DISCUS vice president of state government relations, also joins to dig into the long – sometimes complicated – relationship with Ohio’s Liquor Control.

Spirited Advocate Podcast: Episode 6) E-Commerce and the Spirits Industry

As COVID-19 has forced consumers to find new ways to enjoy their favorite spirits in the comfort of their home, consumer demand for online sales in the industry has grown. Chris Swonger speaks with president and co-founder of Reserve Bar, Lindsay Held, to see just how e-commerce has been impacted and what the future of the spirits industry looks like.

Spirited Advocate Podcast: Episode 5) All About Scotch Whisky

What’s it like to represent one of Scotland’s most accessible and most dynamic industries? Host Chris Swonger speaks with Scotch Whisky Association CEO Karen Betts to find out. Other topics include Brexit, tariffs and the western U.S. coastline.

Spirited Advocate Podcast: Episode 4) Woody Harrelson, Martha Stewart and Barack Obama Walk Into a Bar

What do Woody Harrelson, Martha Stewart and Barack Obama all have in common? They’ve had a cocktail made for them by Derek Brown, owner of the Columbia Room which has won the award of Best American Cocktail Bar. Host Chris Swonger discusses what it’s like to make drinks for the famous as well as diving in to some of the more difficult challenges bars face with COVID-19.

Spirited Advocate Podcast: Episode 3) Spirits Perspective: Combating COVID-19

DISCUS President and CEO Chris Swonger discusses impacts of COVID-19 with Bob Dorfman, director of Montgomery County Alcohol Beverage Services. Specifically, Bob delves into the creative solutions his team has used to ensure business stay operational while protecting consumers and employees.

Spirited Advocate Podcast: Episode 2) Part Two: (American) Whiskey, Tariffs and COVID-19

DISCUS President and CEO Chris Swonger shares a drink with Amir Peay, owner of James E. Pepper distillery in Lexington, Kentucky. Peay sheds light on how tariffs are affecting U.S. businesses like his, while delving into the history that allowed him to revive the James E. Pepper brand.