CHICAGO – The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) honored distinguished industry leaders at a special awards dinner held last night during the DISCUS Annual Conference in Chicago.
The event, emceed by Jody Slone Spitalnik, VP of Supplier Partnerships for Provi publications Beverage Media and SevenFifty Daily, celebrated the remarkable achievements of industry luminaries who have made significant contributions to advancing the spirits industry.
DISCUS Award Recipients:
|Lauren Paylor “LP” O’Brien, beverage professional, writer, entrepreneur and ‘Ultimate Drink Master’||Impact Award for Emerging Leaders|
|Dana and Ted Huber, Huber’s Starlight Distillery||Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year Award|
|Dia Simms, chief executive officer, Lobos1707 and co-founder, Pronghorn||DEI Leadership Award|
|Bruce Joseph, Master Distiller, Hotaling & Co.||Distinguished Service Award|
|Senator Bill Cassidy, (R- LA)||Top Shelf Advocacy Award|
|Mary Barrazotto, senior vice president, deputy general counsel, Brown-Forman||50th Anniversary Honorary Award|
“These outstanding leaders have made a remarkable and lasting impact across our industry, from spirits innovation to DEI leadership and important public policy work that has helped advance distillers, large and small,” said Distilled Spirits Council President and CEO Chris Swonger. “Their influence is felt in every corner of the spirits landscape, shaping the future of our industry in diverse and meaningful ways.”
Each recipient was presented with an award created by Vendome Copper and Brass Works, a leading manufacturer of handcrafted batch and continuous distillation systems.
Award and Recipient Information:
DISCUS Impact Award for Emerging Leaders – Lauren Paylor “LP” O’Brien, beverage professional, writer, entrepreneur and ‘Ultimate Drink Master’
The DISCUS Impact Award for Emerging Leaders recognizes the achievements of an exceptional young professional who has made significant contributions to their company and/or to the industry and has demonstrated the potential for leadership and continued service.
LP is a highly decorated and award-winning mixologist. Her dedication to education, innovation, and cultural integration through cocktail creations motivated her to establish LP Drinks. LP’s notable achievements include being one of the owners of Siponey Spritz
Co.™, which is the first B Corp certified spirits-based canned cocktail company. Additionally, her expertise in the beverage industry was recently recognized on Netflix’s new television series, Drink Masters, where she emerged as the winner.
DISCUS Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year – Dana and Ted Huber, Huber’s Starlight Distillery
The DISCUS Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year Award is in memory of Dave Pickerell, the “Johnny Appleseed of craft distilling” and is awarded to a DISCUS Craft Member who has been a stand-out leader in craft spirits innovation, a champion for America’s craft distiller community and an ardent supporter of the association’s advocacy efforts.
Ted and Dana Huber are pillars of the craft distilling community and strong supporters of DISCUS advocacy and responsibility efforts. Ted served as the first chair of the DISCUS Small Distiller Advisory Council and was instrumental in launching and building DISCUS’ craft distiller membership. Together, they have galvanized craft member support for key DISCUS legislative and policy priorities, including the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act and the launch of Spirits United. They are also truly passionate about the spirits industry’s commitment to responsibility and giving back to their community.
DISCUS DEI Leadership Award – Dia Simms, chief executive officer, Lobos 1707 and co-founder, Pronghorn
The DEI Leadership Award acknowledges and celebrates exemplary leadership through demonstrated commitment and significant contributions to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within the spirits industry.
Dia Simms, CEO of Lobos 1707 Tequila & Mezcal, is the co-founder of Pronghorn, a 10-year initiative to cultivate the next generation of Black entrepreneurs, executive leaders, and founders within the spirits industry. Through her dedication and leadership, Pronghorn is removing barriers and granting access to critical resources that empower untapped talent and emerging Black businesses to reach their full potential.
DISCUS Distinguished Service Award – Bruce Joseph, Master Distiller, Hotaling & Co.
The DISCUS Distinguished Service Award is a celebration of an individual or organization who
supported the industry through promotion of the industry, advocacy or responsibility, and exemplary service contributions to their community and/or the hospitality industry. Must have 10 years of documented accomplishments with a significant impact on numerous individuals and organizations.
Bruce Joseph, Master Distiller at Hotaling & Co. (formerly Anchor Distilling Co., joined Anchor Brewing in 1980 as a brewer. With the founding of Anchor Distilling Co. in January of 1993, Bruce worked alongside Old Potrero founder Fritz Maytag laying down the first barrels and learning the intricacies of craft distilling from one of the industry’s true pioneers. In 2010, upon his retirement, Fritz passed down his title of master distiller to Bruce and the rest has become history. Along with his work with Old Potrero, Bruce was also a part of the team that developed Junipero Gin in 1996, which is still distilled in San Francisco, almost 30 years later. Bruce’s passion and knowledge has allowed him to produce well-crafted batches of whiskey and gin, continuing the legacy of his mentor, Fritz Maytag.
DISCUS Top Shelf Award – Senator Bill Cassidy, (R-LA)
The DISCUS Top Shelf Award is given to an elected official for outstanding Public Policy Work benefiting the spirits industry.
Dr. Bill Cassidy was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014 and is the senior U.S. Senator for Louisiana. He serves on the Finance Committee, the Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee (HELP), the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the Veterans Affairs Committee. Senator Cassidy was reelected in 2020 to his second term in the U.S. Senate. In 2023, he became Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee. He is the first physician to sit as HELP Ranking Member or Chairman since 1933, when it was called the Education and Labor Committee. Senator Cassidy has supported the spirits industry on a number of tax-related issues including the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which permanently reduced the federal excise tax on distilled spirits. He was also a cosponsor of the RESTAURANTS Act to support the hospitality industry recovering from the COVID pandemic.
DISCUS 50th Anniversary Honorary Award – Mary Barrazotto, senior vice president, deputy general counsel, Brown-Forman
In honor of the 50th Anniversary, this award is in recognition of an individual for lifetime achievements, exceptional contributions to the spirits industry, and outstanding service to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
Mary Barrazotto, senior vice president, deputy general counsel, has worked at Brown-Forman Corporation for more than 32 years. Over the years, Mary has played an integral role in key DISCUS committees that help DISCUS navigate complicated regulatory challenges and successfully advocate for the spirits industry in the federal and state policy arenas. Mary joined DISCUS’ Laws and Regulations Committee in the early 90’s 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 assumed the chairmanship of the Code Review Board in 2015 and remains in that position today.
DISCUS Impact Award for Emerging Leaders – Lauren Paylor “LP” O’Brien: Award accepted on behalf of LP O’Brien, beverage professional, writer, entrepreneur and ‘Ultimate Drink Master’
DISCUS Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year – Dana and Ted Huber: (L-R) Chris Swonger, President & CEO of DISCUS; Dana Huber, Ted Huber, Blake Huber, Huber’s Starlight Distillery; Jody Slone Spitalnik, Beverage Media and SevenFifty Daily
DISCUS DEI Leadership Award – Dia Simms: (L-R) Chris Swonger, President & CEO of DISCUS; Dia Simms, chief executive officer, Lobos 1707 and co-founder, Pronghorn; Jody Slone Spitalnik, Beverage Media and SevenFifty Daily
DISCUS Distinguished Service Award – Bruce Joseph: (L-R) Chris Swonger, President & CEO of DISCUS; Bruce Joseph, Master Distiller, Hotaling & Co.; Jody Slone Spitalnik, Beverage Media and SevenFifty Daily
DISCUS Top Shelf Award – Senator Bill Cassidy: (L-R) Chris Swonger, President & CEO of DISCUS; Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA); Jody Slone Spitalnik, Beverage Media and SevenFifty Daily
DISCUS 50th Anniversary Honorary Award – Mary Barrazotto: (L-R) Chris Swonger, President & CEO of DISCUS; Mary Barrazotto, senior vice president, deputy general counsel, Brown-Forman
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.