Cheers to 50 Years: DISCUS Celebrates Five Decades of Advancing the Spirits Industry

WASHINGTON – The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) is raising a glass to a special milestone—50 years of effective advocacy on behalf of the spirits industry and adult spirits consumers.

“Fifty years ago, leaders in the spirits industry formed DISCUS to unify the spirits industry recognizing that we are stronger together,” said Chris Swonger, DISCUS President and CEO.  “For half a century, DISCUS has remained a unifier for the industry and a forceful advocate for fair tax and market access treatment at the federal, state and international levels.”

On this day in 1973, leaders of three separate distilled spirits organizations met at the Bacardi office in Miami to vote on the formation of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, which remains the leading voice and advocate for the U.S. spirits industry.

According to the March 20, 1973, meeting minutes, “The purpose of the meeting was to consolidate three organizations, The Bourbon Institute, Distilled Spirits Institute, and Licensed Beverage Industries, into a single, fully representative association to be known as the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.” The move to form the new trade association was unanimously endorsed by the board of directors of all three organizations.

In recent years, DISCUS has broadened its membership bringing together distillers, large and small, supply chain professionals and industry service partners.  Today, the DISCUS membership includes a board of 17 leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits sold in the United States, more than 240 distillers across the country, and 60 partner members representing supply chain and affiliated service companies.

This anniversary comes in a historic year for the industry, with DISCUS recently announcing that for the first time U.S. spirits supplier revenues surpassed beer in 2022.

“Working in unity alongside our members, DISCUS has accomplished many great feats over the decades,” said Swonger.  “As the distilling landscape has evolved over the years, so too has DISCUS.  We are well positioned for the future and are confident the best days for our industry are ahead of us.”

To mark this momentous occasion, DISCUS is launching a yearlong celebration including a commemorative logo, #Cheersto50Years social media activation, special recognition and events at the upcoming DISCUS annual conference, and a grand celebration this fall at the new DISCUS office at 101 Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.

DISCUS: The Early Years

According to the historic record, the newly-formed Distilled Spirits Council of the United States was made up of Active and Associate Members, many of which were acquired over the years or are no longer in production.  The Active Members included: The American Distilling Company; Austin, Nichols & Co., Inc.; Bacardi Imports, Inc.; Barton Brands, Ltd.; James B.  Beam Distilling Co., Inc.; A. Smith Bowman Distillery; Brown-Forman Distillers Corporation; The Distillers Company, Limited; Felton & Son, Inc.; The Fleischmann Distilling Corp.; Glenmore Distilleries Co.; Grain Processing Corp.; Heublein, Inc.; Laird & Co. Medley Distilling Co.; Midwest Solvents Co., Inc.; National Distillers & Chemical Corp.; Publicker; T.W. Samuels Distillery; Schenley Industries, Inc.; Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc.; Somerset Importers, Ltd.; Star Hill Distilling Co.; Hiram Walker & Sons, Inc.; Waterfill & Frazier Distillery Co., Inc.; and The Willett Distilling Company.

Associate Members included: Double Springs Distillers, Inc.; Hood River Distiller, Inc.; Kobrand Corp.; Ed. Phillips and Sons Co.; S.S. Pierce Co.; Schieffelin and Co.; and “21” Brands, Inc.


The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is the leading voice and advocate for the distilled spirits industry and adult spirits consumers in the United States. For 50 years, DISCUS has effectively advocated on behalf of its members on legislative, regulatory and public affairs issues at the local, state, federal and international levels. DISCUS members are committed to responsibility and encourage adults who drink to do so in moderation.