Written on November 20, 2015.


One of the most common questions I’ve received since officially taking on beverages reporting earlier this year is also my most feared: What do you recommend?

It’s a difficult question for someone who was perfectly fine drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon (and admittedly still is) until about two years ago, when I moved to Louisville and learned there’s more out there than bottom shelf liquor and $10 12-packs.

But it hasn’t been made any easier by breweries and distilleries that are always growing and pushing out products that attempt to fill the vast range of preferences.

How am I – or anyone – supposed to keep up?

Well, everyone, I’m ready to accept it: I’ll never know everything. But I’ve also acknowledged that I need to know more. So to further my own spirits education, I enrolled in this month’s Stave & Thief Society bourbon certification program. { KEEP READING }


Written on September 18, 2015.

Veteran beverage development lab Flavorman has been a flavor authority since 1992 and celebrates its 3000 custom formulations hitting the final testing stage this month.

Every type of drink imaginable has spent time in shelf-life testing at the Louisville-based company led by David Dafoe. The milestone number includes juices, energy drinks, teas, shooters, drops, liqueurs, spirits, ciders, malts, protein drinks and even beverages for horses, dogs, cats and birds.

“We guide companies from start-ups to industry leaders through the entire development process ‘from start through finish,’” said Dafoe. “By offering in-depth shelf-life testing, we set ourselves apart as the most thorough developer in the business.”
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Written on September 10, 2015.

What makes a drink that you buy at the store taste and look the same way every time you buy it? A dizzying combination of both science and math that is best left to the professionals. This never-before-seen, extended edition, director’s cut takes you behind the production line and into the scientific realm of Quality Systems.

Written on August 1, 2015.

Humans, by evolutionary nature, love sweet. Sweetness makes your favorite beverage taste better than the rest. Take a look at the science behind sweeteners, and gratify your thirst for fun facts in our sweet 60 Second Sip Science film.

Written on July 24, 2015.

A new Louisville-crafted alcoholic drink, The Schiavone, made its debut this month.

The vodka-based bottled drink currently is sold only at Prospect Party Center, located on U.S. 42 near River Road. The beverage was created 12 years ago by Louisvillian Bob Schiavone, human capital manager at business outsourcing company ADP LLC and an investor in Sterling Beer Co.

Schiavone, an avid golfer, told Louisville Business First that he was in New York City on a golf trip more than a decade ago and had a mixture of vodka, Fresca and orange juice. He liked it, but in the hot sun, the orange juice hit his stomach the wrong way.

When he returned to Louisville, Schiavone worked with a bartender at Hunting Creek Country Club, where he was a member, to create a lighter, more refreshing drink made with cranberry juice, Fresca, lime and vodka, he said.

And he decided to call it The Schiavone. “I guess it’s arrogance at its best,” he said of the name.
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Written on June 24, 2015.

David Dafoe runs Flavorman, a 35-person business in Louisville that grossed $7 million in revenue last year concocting both soft and hard drink flavors for big players like Ocean Spray and Sunsweet and for artisanal producers like Dumante, maker of an espresso-flavored liqueur.

Founded in 1992 by Dafoe, Flavorman also runs Moonshine University, which offers courses in crafting distilled spirits. Fueled by the boom in boutique spirits, Dafoe, 53, expects revenue to double in 2015. In an interview that has been condensed and edited, I recently spoke with him about how he stumbled into the flavor business and built his company while contending with a serious illness that at one point left him blind and unconscious for three weeks.
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Written on May 18, 2015.

If you’ve been hankering for a taco soda—or a soda of any flavor, for that manner—David Dafoe is your guy.

Dafoe is a flavor scientist and the founder of Flavorman, a Kentucky-based company that develops flavors for beverage brands. During a recent piece with CNN, Dafoe said that since founding his company back in 1992, they’ve created around 443,000 flavors—a staggering number that, if I’m doing my math right, comes out to around 50 flavors a day (weekends included!).

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Written on April 28, 2015.

Beverage brands large and small rely heavily on David Dafoe’s taste buds.

Dafoe is a flavor scientist and founder of Flavorman, a 35-person firm in Louisville, Ky., that develops drink flavors for brands like Jones Soda, Ocean Spray, Joia Life and Diageo (DEO) (which owns Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff).

The small business has engineered 443,000 beverage formulations since it launched in 1992. Surprisingly, his clients aren’t all humans.

“We’ve formulated taco-flavored soda, bourbon soda [and] devil’s food cake vodka — not to mention beverages for dogs, cats, horses, even hummingbirds,” Dafoe said.

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Written on April 17, 2015.

Ever asked a bartender for a bourbon, only to have a bottle of Jack Daniels land in front of you?

Most of us have. The misinformation goes beyondthat whiskey faux pas though. I once found myself in a heated argument about the rules of bourbon that I thought might come to fisticuffs. Granted, this bartender worked at the TGI Friday’s at the Dallas airport, but still. The conversation went something like this:

Him: Bourbon has to come from Kentucky.

Me: It doesn’t actually have to come from Kentucky.

Him: It’s my job to know, I promise it does.

Me: “I promise it doesn’t … oh never mind.”

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Written on April 7, 2015.

watch this video on youtube.com

They call themselves the Ivy League of spirits—the Distilled Spirits Epicenter takes distilling so seriously they’ve created Moonshine University. We’ll explore this Louisville educational experience aimed at taking moonshining out of the hollers and into the classroom!



Behind The Line: The Magic of Mass Production
Beyond the Cane: The Science of Sweeteners
40,000 Flavors
1950's Flavorman
The Development Process
Dumante's Story
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