The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) Board of Directors has elected Dan Leese, Hotaling & Co. President & CEO, as chair of the national trade association representing leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits sold in the United States. Leese succeeds Ugo Fiorenzo, Campari Managing Director, Business Unit Americas, who chaired DISCUS since June 2022.

“Dan brings decades of experience and expertise into the chairmanship, and I feel confident DISCUS’ success will continue to grow under his leadership,” said DISCUS President & CEO Chris Swonger. “While we still face many challenges, the spirits industry has proved resilient. With Dan’s guidance, DISCUS will continue to fight for market modernizations while promoting responsibility and encouraging moderation for all adults who choose to drink.”

Leese brings to the role of chair more than 40 years in the beverage alcohol industry. Prior to joining Hotaling & Co., Leese served as CEO and founder of V2 Wine Group where he launched three brands, building a multimillion-dollar enterprise in 10 years, which he sold to Delicato Family Wines. He also held executive positions with Brown-Forman as managing director of the U.S. wine business and with Beringer Blass Wine Estates as president and managing director.

“It is an honor to begin my chairmanship with DISCUS and to work alongside President & CEO Chris Swonger, Vice Chair Mary Barrazotto, the member companies and the highly talented DISCUS team to deliver on our strategic plan,” said Leese. “Together, we’ll build upon DISCUS’ accomplishments in shaping the spirits marketplace, ensuring equal treatment for our products and positioning our industry as a leader in the alcohol sector. I also want to share my deep gratitude for Ugo for his leadership as chair over the past two years. Ugo worked tirelessly to strengthen relationships between the three tiers and unify the industry.  During his tenure, the spirits industry hit a historic milestone in overtaking beer in revenue market share for the first time. We are immensely grateful for his guidance and dedication to our great industry.”

Mary Barrazotto Elected Vice Chair

The Board of Directors also appointed Mary Barrazotto, Brown-Forman Corporation Senior Vice President Deputy General Counsel, as vice chair. Barrazotto has worked at Brown-Forman Corporation for more than 33 years. Mary has played an integral role in key DISCUS committees that help the association navigate complicated regulatory challenges and advocate for the spirits industry in the federal and state policy arenas. Mary joined DISCUS’ Laws and Regulations Committee in the early ’90s and chaired this committee for over a decade. In addition, Mary has served more than 20 years on the DISCUS Code Review Board, where she has worked to develop industry self-regulatory policies for spirits advertising and protect the industry’s system of effective self-regulation and commitment to responsible advertising.  Mary was named chair of the Code Review Board in 2015 and remains in that position today.

“For those of us who have been in the industry for a long time, this is an exciting but also very pivotal time for the spirits sector,” said Barrazotto. “The DISCUS Board is fully engaged and committed to providing the support and guidance needed to navigate a path forward that advances the industry and delivers greater convenience and choice for our consumers.”