Beverage Information Group Insider

Looking for a niche podcast in the beverage alcohol industry? The Beverage Information Group Insider podcast looks at the U.S. and global alcohol industries, with a focus on retail trends and best practices. We speak with business leaders in retail, branding and marketing to keep a pulse on the state of the alcohol industry. Download or subscribe to our podcast to remain current in the business of booze. Subscribe to On & OFF the Beverage Information Group Podcast on Podbean, iTunesSpotify, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, PlayerFM, Podchaser and Stitcher.


Empowering Women Leaders in the Alcohol Industry

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In this episode, we speak with Hillary Wirtz, Breakthru Beverage’s Director of D&I, as well as the Chair of WSWA’s Women’s Leadership Council (WLC). Wirtz talks about the importance of improving diversity in the workforce, female mentorship, executive training programs, and meeting people where they are in terms of D&I education. She also relates how her past as a first grade teacher prepared her for this role.

Tales of the Cocktail and Sourcing Whiskey

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In this episode, we begin with Cheers Editor Melissa Dowling discussing her time at Tales of the Cocktail 2023, the enormous and long-running bartender conference in New Orleans, as well as several notable alcohol events she recently attended in Manhattan. Afterwards, Beverage Dynamics Editor Kyle Swartz talks with veteran whiskey writer Steve Coomes about what MGP’s recent changes to their sourcing program means for the whiskey industry at large.

Rum’s Growth Potential

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Why can’t rum grow like whiskey or tequila? What’s holding this category back? And what signs are there that rum might be about to break out? For answers to these questions, we chatted with our colleague Marina Velez, research director, data & insights, at The Beverage Information & Insights Group. Velez is an all-around rum and rum cocktail enthusiast. The handbooks she references are available at

A Tequila Deep Dive

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In this episode, we’re joined by tequila connoisseur David Suro. He is the founder of the Tequila Interchange Project, owner of the tequila brand Siembra Azul and the owner of Tequilas, an upscale Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia. Suro discusses opening a Mexican restaurant in 1986 during a “catastrophic” time for tequila, why he vehemently dislikes cristalino, and his concerns for the sustainability of agave growth and culture. He also talks about his new book on tequila, which you can purchase at this link: — or by emailing him for a signed copy at

What Control State Alcohol Data is Telling Us

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In this episode about alcohol sales data and statistics, we sit down with NABCA President and CEO Neal Insley, NABCA Sr. VP Trade Relations and COO David Jackson and Campari America General Sales Manager Control Region Sean Noble, to talk about the importance of NABCA-collected data and what it tells us about the current state of the industry. Also, we see which man is willing to admit that they went down the resort center’s waterslide while attending last month’s 86th Annual NABCA Annual Conference.

Whiskey and Tequila Trends

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What’s the latest trends in whiskey and tequila, two of the hottest alcohol categories? Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz recall what they observed in these two trendy categories during several recent media trips and alcohol conferences. This includes trips to Jack Daniels Distillery for a celebration of Women in Whiskey, and Louisville for the 2023 Bourbon Classic whiskey fest.

Lost Lantern and Independent Bottling Whiskeys

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Independent bottling is common in Scotch, but not in American whiskey. Why? We ask Nora Ganley-Roper and Adam Polonski, founders of Lost Lantern, a fast-growing independent bottler of American whiskeys. They talk about the process of discovering unique spirits, picking which distilleries to work with, and what’s next for American single malt, which has been a category focus for them.

Discussing Distilling with Danny Kahn of Sazerac

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Buffalo Trace Distillery is doubling their distilling capabilities. This has monumental ramifications for the whiskey industry, and represents an enormous production undertaking. Helping oversee this project is Danny Kahn, Distillation and Aging Operations Director at Sazerac. We talked with Kahn about the massive upgrade at Buffalo Trace, while also delving into Sazerac’s future overall, whether whiskey terroir exists, his career path with a past in brewing, what’s next for the modern bourbon boom and more.

Interview: Elizabeth McCall, Newly Named Woodford Master Distiller

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Fresh off being named the new Master Distiller of Woodford Reserve, Elizabeth McCall joins us to talk about what’s next for the brand, learning under the former Master Distiller Chris Morris, expanding Woodford’s production, sustainability in the whiskey industry, and how young people can get involved in the industry.

Talking Legal Topics with the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association

In this episode, we discuss current legal topics in the alcohol industry, which will be explored further during the annual Legal Symposium (March 13-15) of the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA). Joining us are NABCA CEO Neal Insley and NABCA Associate General Council Buddy Buckner. What are the pressing alcohol legal questions of the day? And how much did the Covid-19 pandemic affect that? Tune in to find out! And for more information on NABCA and its annual Legal Symposium, which anyone can attend, visit or

The Importance of Mastermind Groups

Beverage Dynamics Editor Kyle Swartz talks with small-business expert, author and BARC speaker Tom Shay about the importance of beverage alcohol retail mastermind groups.

On & Off Episode 30:
The Top On-Premise Alcohol Trends of 2023

Bars and restaurants are where alcohol trends begin, before advancing into the retail industry. So what can we expect for on-premise trends in 2023? For answers, we interviewed Andrew Freeman, founder of the San Francisco-based agencies af&co. and Carbonate. His companies put out an annual trends report, which you can read at or, that has helped guided the industry for many years. What does the report forecast for 2023? Tune in to find out!

On & Off Episode 29:
What 2022’s Alcohol Trends Tell Us About 2023

Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz look back at some of the freshest and most dominant trends in alcohol in 2022, and talk about what these developments mean for the new year. Can American whiskey continue to expand at such a high clip? Why is tequila suddenly everywhere? And what, exactly, are vegetable cocktails? Tune in to find out!

On & Off Episode 28:
Tequila Trends in 2022

Why is the tequila category so hot? In this episode, we speak with Mike Moreno, owner of Moreno’s Liquors of Chicago, the largest single-store retailer of tequila in the country. Moreno takes us through the modern tequila boom, explains the agave shortage and also hits on tequila cocktail trends, single barrels, cristalino, celebrity tequilas and other agave spirits.

On & Off Episode 27:
Alcohol Retail Technology in 2022

What are the most pressing trends and challenges facing the on- and off-premise beverage alcohol industries? In this episode, Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz are joined by Associate Editor Jamie Stafford to recap what we learned at Beverage Week 2022. Taking place last June at Orlando, this multi-day event included days of panels, speakers, tastings, and awards shows surrounding the industry, providing invaluable networking and educational opportunities.

On & Off Episode 26:
Beverage Week 2022 Recap

What are the most pressing trends and challenges facing the on- and off-premise beverage alcohol industries? In this episode, Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz are joined by Associate Editor Jamie Stafford to recap what we learned at Beverage Week 2022. Taking place last June at Orlando, this multi-day event included days of panels, speakers, tastings, and awards shows surrounding the industry, providing invaluable networking and educational opportunities.

On & Off Episode 25:
How to Handle Visibly Intoxicated Customers

Studies have found that the national rate of bars and restaurants or retail stores serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated customer is 80%. That alarming statistic represents a large number of consumers who could potentially harm themselves or someone else due to overconsumption, helped along by business employees who then become liable for any negative outcomes. Looking to help correct this dangerous issue, the Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Control recently conducted an undercover operation (funded by a NABCA grant) to test state businesses on how they handled visibly intoxicated customers. How did the state perform? And what kind of server training is Mississippi designing following their study? Tune in for our interview with with Pat Daily, Chief of Enforcement for the Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Control Bureau of Enforcement, and Senior Agent Kurt Alexander.

On & Off Episode 24:
All About Legal Cannabis and Cannabis Beverages

In this episode we talk with Seth Goldberg, who serves as team lead for the Duane Morris Cannabis industry group law firm. Seth provides a deep dive into the current state of the legal cannabis industry, why cannabis beverages have taken off, and what’s next in terms of federal oversight of legal cannabis. Also in this episode, cohost Melissa Dowling reveals that she’s more of an edible person.

On & Off Episode 23:
A Deep Dive into French Wine

Want to know everything about the current state of French wine? This episode is for you! In this podcast we interview Robert Cavanaugh, wine educator and marketing director for the wine marketing company Adventure Wine. Cavanaugh dives into the trendiest French wine regions and varietals, and explores unsung and underrated areas and grapes as well. We also talk about how French wine branding has improved to educate consumers, the affects of global warming, how much growth is left for rosé, the category depth of French sparklers, and clear up some common misconceptions about French wine.

On & Off Episode 22:
Improving Diversity and Inclusion in Wine

In the second part of our series on improving diversity and inclusion in the alcohol industry, we speak with TJ Douglas, cofounder and CEO of The Urban Grape wine store in Boston. Douglas and his wife Hadley are behind the Urban Grape Wine Studies Award for Students of Color at Boston University to support those in the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community interested in careers in the wine industry. The Urban Grape also received the 2021 Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We talk with Douglas about the scholarship, improving D&I, and the national recognition as a leading small business in America.

On & Off Episode 21:
Improving Diversity and Inclusion in Craft Beer

How can the craft beer industry improve diversity and inclusion? In this episode, we interview is Jamal Robinson, director of sales and marketing at New England Brewing Company in Connecticut. Robinson is behind the NEBCO African American Brewers Scholarship and The Connecticut Brewers Guild African American Brewing Scholarship in Connecticut. The discussion focuses on Robinson’s efforts, plus how the industry as a whole can improve. Other topics include: the state of regional breweries, unicorns pooping rainbows and debating the best Jewish delicatessen in Connecticut.

On & Off Episode 20: 
How CORE Helped On-Premise in the Pandemic

Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz discuss an important nonprofit organization in the beverage alcohol industry, Children of Restaurant Employees, or (CORE). Our guest is CORE executive director Sheila Bennett. She delves into how CORE and its many partners helped on-premise employees and their families during the Covid-19 crisis. Also, she outlines how you, too, can help those in need.

On & Off Episode 19: 
What Is Sustainable Wine?

What’s the difference between organic and sustainable wine? If you don’t know the answer, then you must listen to our latest podcast with Allison Jordan, Executive Director of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. Jordan explains the fine details of sustainably certified wine, along with the long history of the CSWA, how and where sustainable wine education happens, and why more consumers care about these kinds of products. And if you did know the answer to our question, well, tune in anyways for a deeper dive into an important topic. Cheers!

On & Off Episode 18: 
Cordials & Liqueurs: Trends and History

On the latest episode of On & Off, Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz dive into cordials and liqueurs. They discuss the history of this category, recent growth trends, why the pandemic likely buoyed the category, and what modern innovations have helped drive growth. Also, Melissa and Kyle show off their lack of movie trivia knowledge and critique their boss’ homemade cookies.

On & Off Episode 17: 
The Future of Alcohol Retail and Restaurant Technology

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Everybody knows that Covid-19 has sped up the evolution of alcohol ecommerce and technology by leaps and bounds. But what comes next? What follows this unprecedented push forward for alcohol tech? Will there be a pullback, dangers ahead, or greater implementation of these cutting-edge technologies. Editors Kyle Swartz and Melissa Dowling debate whether alcohol delivery is a “fourth tier” and rant about their frustrations with QR codes on-premise. Listen in for that and more about the future of alcohol technology.

On & Off Episode 16: 
Women in Alcohol

In this episode, Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz celebrate the amazing work of women in the alcohol industry by interviewing two female rockstars at Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits: Bridget Albert, National Director of Education Beam Suntory, and Julie Milroy, VP of On-Premise. The discussion centers around the enormous role and success of women in the industry, and how the alcohol business can continue to improve the treatment of women.

On & Off Episode 15:
Alcohol Industry Trends: Part 2

Following Part 1 of this two-part episode, Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz dive into another set of trends currently affecting the beverage alcohol industry. These include celebrity-backed alcohol brands and their common pitfalls; the rise of CBD beverages and what comes next for the nascent category; and the continued shortages for all things needed in alcohol packaging. Also, the editors discuss what makes The Rock so damn likeable as an actor, and what is the proper way to consumer THC edibles.

On & Off Episode 14:
American Whiskey Trends with Maggie Kimberl

What’s trendier in the alcohol industry than American whiskey? But can our brown spirits boom continue at such a rapid pace? In this episode, Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz sit down with industry veteran Maggie Kimberl, content editor of American Whiskey Magazine and president of the Bourbon Women Association. Kimberl leads our discussion about the future of American whiskey, growth prospects, American single malt, the secondary market, and her work in highlighting the amazing women who make this industry run. Fill your Glencairn glass and listen to this one!

On & Off Episode 13:
Alcohol Industry Trends: Part 1

What are the biggest trends right now across the entire alcohol industry? In part 1 of a mulit-part podcast, Editors Melissa Dowling (Cheers magazine) and Kyle Swartz (Beverage Dynamics magazine) discuss the hard seltzer boom, the rise of RTDs, the golden age of American whiskey, and the current shortage of glass and aluminum packaging. How long will all of these trends last? And what exactly is driving them? For answers, just click play!

On & Off Episode 12:
Wine Needs to Recalibrate

Why aren’t Millennials drinking wine? And why is wine consumption broadly declining? In this episode, Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz interview wine educator and author Marnie Old, who previously served as the director of wine studies for Manhattan’s French Culinary Institute. Marnie delves into the issues facing the wine industry, and what wine companies must do to win back consumers being lost to spirits and beer.

On & Off Episode 11:
Vodka Trends in 2021

Make yourself a Moscow Mule and download this episode to learn about all things vodka in 2021. What are the hottest trends in clear spirits? What’s the latest from craft vodka? What cocktails are helping drive the category? How much does Co-host Kyle Swartz actually know about “Sex in the City”? All this and more in our latest episode.

2021 Wine & Spirit Growth Brands Winners

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The Beverage Information Group has named the top-selling and fastest-growing wines and spirits for calendar year 2020, with more than 150 brands receiving the prestigious honor. This video includes a list of the winners, as well as highlights of recent trends defining the beverage alcohol industry. Hosted by BIG analyst Marina Velez, Beverage Dynamics editor Kyle Swartz and Cheers editor Melissa Dowling.

On & Off Episode 10:
Responsible Alcohol Practices in 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic completely changed the alcohol industry with cocktails to-go, direct-to-consumer shipping and alcohol ecommerce. These and other pandemic challenges necessitated adaptation from beverage alcohol regulators, who stepped up with responsible alcohol practices tailored to our modern crisis. In this episode, we recall these challenges from 2020, and also look ahead for what’s next in responsible alcohol practices in 2021. Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz interview Steve Schmidt, Sr. Vice President for Public Policy and Communication for the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA).

On & Off Episode 9:
Pandemic Alcohol Trends and Rum Cocktails

Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz are joined by colleague Marina Velez, senior product manager, data & insights, for The Beverage Information & Insights Group. Velez talks about the dominant alcohol trends from the pandemic, and reflects on which trends she believes will continue with consumers even as Covid-19 recedes. Next the group discusses the rum category, whether it’s growing or shrinking, plus the leading brands and cocktails. Velez even shares the backstory of her family’s famous coquito recipe — a flavorful, boozy treat!

On & Off Episode 8:
Cannabis Beverages, Trends, and Legalization

This podcast is all about pot. Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz discuss THC and CBD beverages, trends, and legalization with cannabis investor Carlton Fowler. Fowler is co-founder and managing partner at Goat Rodeo Capital, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage investments in beverage alcohol, non-alcoholic drinks and cannabis-centric brands. Fowler and the editors dive into the rise of CBD/THC beverages, cannabis consumer trends, new production and packaging technologies and the future of federal legalization.

On & Off Episode 7:
The Spirit of Kentucky

What’s more American than Kentucky spirits? The boom in brown spirits has elevated the Bluegrass State to global prominence for it’s incredible array of bourbons, ryes, whiskeys, cocktails and other spirits. In this episode, Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz explore how Kentucky spirits have grabbed national attention, by interviewing Louisville-based food and beverage writer Steve Coomes. Coomes is known throughout Kentucky and the wider world of whiskey as one of the industry’s most knowledgable writers — including on country ham! Check out his work at

On & Off Episode 6:
Eco-Friendly Alcohol

How important is sustainability in the alcohol industry? For a deep dive into this topic, Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz sit down with Nick Martin, Executive Director of the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable. BIER is a technical coalition of leading global beverage companies working together to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage sector.
Sponsored by Brown-Forman.


2020 Beer Growth Brands Winners

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Learn about all the beer brands who qualified for this year’s Growth Brands Awards. Plus hear about the latest category trends, including hard seltzer and FMBs, from our Research Analyst Marina Velez and Editors Kyle Swartz and Melissa Dowling.

On & Off Episode 5:
The Best Alcohol Gifts of 2020

Who doesn’t deserve a glass of something great to drink this holiday season? Editor’s Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz get into the festive spirit by picking out their favorite — and most unique — alcohol-related gifts for the 2020 season. This includes Kyle’s picks for the two best values in whiskey from this past year. The editors also talk about holiday-themed cocktails, including the delicious and boozy Puerto Rican tradition of mixing up coquitos.

On & Off Episode 4:
What’s Next for Hard Seltzer?

In this latest episode, Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz talk about the current state of the booming hard seltzer market, including the latest trends, and also discuss where they both believe hard seltzer will go in 2021, in terms of both retail and bars and restaurants.

On & Off Episode 3:
U.S. Whiskey Trends in 2020

Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz discuss U.S. whiskey trends in 2020, with an eye towards top whiskey cocktails, single barrel store picks and the hard-to-believe phenomenon of younger whiskey actually tasting good. What’s going on? A new wave of U.S. craft distilleries have doubled down on top-level production techniques and innovation to find ways to create new flavors — and in less time than you may think. Listen in to learn all you need to know about American whiskey this year.

On & Off Episode 2:
Vodka is Still King

Editors Melissa Dowling and Kyle Swartz discuss what’s driving the vodka category on- and off-premise in 2020. Topics include the rise of craft American vodka, how imported brands are reinventing themselves for the modern market, how the pandemic has affected vodka sales, top vodka cocktails and how savvy brands have tapped into Americana.

On & Off Episode 1:
Alcohol Tech & COVID 19

Technology has allowed beverage alcohol retailers, and bars and restaurants, to adapt with the COVID-19 crisis. Cheers Editor Melissa Dowling and Beverage Dynamics Editor Kyle Swartz discuss just how tech has helped these businesses cope with the challenges of the pandemic. Never before has ecommerce, curbside pickup and digital delivery been so important for the alcohol industry.

2020 Growth Brands Awards & Trends

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Learn about all the wine and spirit brands who qualified for this year’s Growth Brands Awards. Plus hear about the latest category trends from our Research Analyst Marina Velez and Editors Kyle Swartz and Melissa Dowling.

911 For Your Business

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Small business expert Tom Shay provides advice on navigating the on-premise industry during a pandemic. Includes information about government programs, marketing tips, innovative technology and more.

Vodka and the Kentucky Derby

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Join us as we speak with the marketing team at PriceWeber about how they successfully integrated Finlandia Vodka with the Kentucky Derby, an event traditionally known for bourbon. Hear how PriceWeber boosted sales of this spirit through an innovative sports sponsorship.