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 55: Reviving American Craft Distilling

On this episode of The Spirited Advocate Podcast, our host Chris Swonger is joined by Master Distiller, Bruce Joseph.  Bruce is an industry veteran who has been instrumental in putting American whiskey on the map.  In this episode we’ll be talking to Bruce about his amazing career, where he sees the spirits industry moving in the future, and the incredible work he is doing at Hotaling & Co., including  championing the return of pot-distilled whiskey through the launch of Old Potrero.  Don’t miss this episode of The Spirited Advocate Podcast, brought to you by The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Spirited Advocate Podcast) Episode 54: A Mixologist with a Twist

On this episode of The Spirited Advocate Podcast, our host Chris Swonger is joined by the ultra-talented mixologist and winner of Netflix’s “Drink Masters,” Lauren Paylor O’Brien! Having worked many roles in the food and beverage industry from Beverage Director, R&D Production Chef, and Beverage Consultant, LP now spends her time creating diverse, inclusive, and safe spaces through her work with Focus on Health and her consulting company LP Drinks Co. She joins Chris to discuss her journey becoming a renowned bartender, her unique approach to cocktails, and her insights into the future of the industry, including no/low abv drink trends. Don’t miss this episode of The Spirited Advocate Podcast, brought to you by The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Spirited Advocate) Episode 53: Honoring a Veteran Distiller

On this episode of The Spirited Advocate Podcast, our host Chris Swonger is joined by Scott Neil, retired Special Forces veteran and the Co-Founder and COO of Horse Soldier Bourbon! Having significant executive, operational and combat experience, Scott knows a thing or two about how to get things done under pressure. Scott shares his story with Chris about making the transition from the battlefield to the distillery, the tradition and power of American made spirits, and some of the exciting plans that lay ahead for Horse Soldier Bourbon. Plus, the two raise a glass for Veterans Day to all of those brave men and women who serve and have served our country.

Spirited Advocate) Episode 52: Transforming the Bourbon Tradition

Chris Swonger sits down with Kaveh Zamanian, the founder, distiller and CEO of Rabbit Hole Distillery. Kaveh was recently inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame in recognition of his impact on bourbon’s stature, growth and category awareness. The pair discuss this major accomplishment, as well as the incredible innovations that visionaries like Kaveh are bringing to the category.

Spirited Advocate) Episode 51: Craft Community Advocacy

On this episode Chris Swonger sits down with Scott and Becky Harris, the Founders and Owners of Catoctin Creek Distillery. Day to day, Becky is the Chief Distiller, while Scott is the General Manager at the distillery and together this dynamic husband and wife team has earned many accolades. This year, DISCUS presented them with the “Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year Award” for their outstanding service to the craft community across the country and in their home state of Virginia. Today, they join Chris to discuss their recent award, the importance of advocating for the industry and how they created such a successful operation.

Spirited Advocate) Episode 50: Victoria Russell and Dia Simms

On this episode, Chris Swonger is joined by Victoria Russell, the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Beam Suntory and Chair of the DISCUS DEI Committee, and Dia Simms, CEO of Lobos 1707 and Co-Founder of Pronghorn! Together, the trio discuss how the spirits industry can create a more inclusive environment. Hear what shifts Victoria and Dia have already noticed during the course of their careers – plus the pair give advice for those looking to build a more diverse company, brand, or distillery.