Written on April 17, 2023.

Expertise, experience, and excellence mixed with character, kindness, and a commitment to quality makes for one hell of a company culture cocktail. While always focused on our mission to change what the world is drinking, we believe establishing a professional environment that values our people as much as our profits and prioritizes true work-life balance ultimately leads to the type of serious and significant engagement that results in lasting, sustainable success. Operating with positive intent, communicating with respect and honesty, demanding quality throughout the process, embracing change as we celebrate unprecedented growth, and remaining ethical, principled, and accountable, this is The Flavorman Way.

Far too often professional environments and corporate cultures center around fear and politics, selfishness and greed. Hey, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, right? Survival of the fittest where the only thing that matters is the bottom line. Profits over people, numbers over names, policies over common sense, legal liability over ethical responsibility, exorbitant executive bonuses over reasonable working wages. The relentless pressure to outperform year-over-year and meet arbitrary and unreasonable goals and expectations can and will warp your mind, challenge your character, suffocate your creativity, and exhaust your spirit. Every day is a battle to keep perspective, manage your boss, and prioritize yourself. It’s no way to work and certainly no way to live. Nonetheless, it’s an undeniable reality for far too much of the American workforce. At one time or another, we’ve all gotten a taste of that dangerous toxicity, which is why when you find a supportive, encouraging, rewarding, and empowering culture like the one here at Flavorman, you can’t help but celebrate and appreciate it.

And at our core is The Flavorman Way, a roadmap of guiding principles that define and shape how we communicate, behave, and interact internally so that we can be at our best externally. The foundation of Flavorman is rooted in our expertise, character, and commitment to quality and with the company’s explosive growth over the last three years, it became clear that we needed to formally identify our core values and fundamentals if we wanted to protect the sacred culture that’s inspired the genius and ingenuity of our people and process for the past 31 years.

Including when COVID hit in 2020. While most of the world was shutting their doors and struggling to stay in business, we quickly transitioned to producing hand sanitizer for the state and actually ended up hiring people when the panic of the pandemic was at its height. And we haven’t stopped. Over the past three years, we’ve more than doubled our workforce (from 38 employees to 66) while continuing to set new revenue records seemingly every month. Add in the completion of our transformative new $8.5M, 27K-square-foot Scott Reed Building and our move later this year to an additional 13K-square-foot building that will more than triple the working space for our world-class lab and flavor teams, and it doesn’t take a beverage scientist to figure out business is booming. Make no mistake about it, the future of Flavorman is now. And as we continue to navigate our way through this period of rapid growth and significant change, we’ll make sure we don’t go astray by staying true to The Flavorman Way.

1) Assume Positive Intent

“See the best in people and watch how they fight to prove you right.” – Skip Prichard

The road to success is often filled with potholes, wrong turns, and torrential downpours. But the companies that weather the storms and make it through do it because of their people and leadership. And when both are aligned, great things can happen. Look, we all make mistakes. Even the best of us. But when companies show grace and understanding instead of judgement and disdain, they earn the kind of meaningful trust and authentic buy-in that ultimately leads to long-term success. When smart, motivated, and well-intentioned professionals are given the benefit of the doubt and a chance to right their wrongs, a fierce loyalty and deep appreciation are developed for an environment that supports us at our worst and celebrates us at our best. Sure, there will be those who take a foot when given an inch, but the rest of us will take that inch and give it back in spades because that’s what you do when you’re a good teammate on a great team. You play inspired because you’re surrounded and supported by inspired people. Positive intent > toxic politics; trust > micro-management; grace > judgement; empowerment > fear.

2) Be Accountable & Engage In Blameless Solutions

“Wisdom stems from personal accountability. We all make mistakes; own them…learn from them. Don’t throw away the lesson by blaming others.” – Steve Maraboli

All five principles of The Flavorman Way intersect and overlap in many ways, particularly the first three, as true accountability and honest, respectful communication can really only take place when the parties involved trust everyone is operating with positive intentions. When it’s about the whole instead of the parts, the team instead of the individual, then people can truly come together, move forward as one, and address issues and solve problems effectively because of a shared trust and respect. The Blame Game is a devastating and destructive force, and yet, it’s played at the highest stakes routinely in far too many professional environments – where ego, politics, and greed create a toxicity that drains the spirit and poisons company cultures.

3) Communicate With Maturity, Respect, & Honesty

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply.” – Roy T. Bennett

When we think about interpersonal communication, we think about the importance of speaking and writing with clarity, purpose, and sincerity so we give ourselves the best chance to get our point across. However, no matter how carefully crafted the message is or how authentically it’s delivered, it doesn’t matter if nobody is listening. That’s why it’s so critically important that communication travels down a two-way road, where interactions take place with open minds, empathetic hearts, and positive intentions. That’s when you establish the kind of direct and honest communication that gets things done and moves companies forward.

4) Demand Quality & Ethics

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” – Will A. Foster

Quality is at the core of everything we do here at Flavorman and Moonshine University because of the expertise, talent, passion, and commitment of our people. No detail is too small and no project is too big. Our lab teams have created more than 80,000 original beverage formulations over the last three decades. It’s an astonishing and impressive amount of work. And with the recent growth of the company and exciting developments happening, our R&D and flavor teams are as inspired as they’ve ever been to change what the world is drinking by continuing to capture the imagination of our clients so they can deliver innovative new products to an ever-evolving marketplace. In order to accomplish that mission, we’ll continue to depend on the talent and experience of our people and the power of our collaborative and thorough process, which begins and ends with quality, a defining trait of our business since day one. It’s why Jones Soda decided to work with us way back in 1994 after a number of their flavored sodas were failing in quality and needed to be reformulated. And in a matter of weeks, we not only made sure their sodas were shelf-life dependable, we turned them into their five highest-selling flavors.

5) Embrace & Celebrate Change As Necessary For Growth

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” – William Pollard

When our founder, Dave Dafoe, started Flavorman (legally known as Pro-Liquitech) more than 30 years ago in 1992, he was the only employee. Eighteen years later, in 2010, Flavorman still had just 12 team members. Today, as we previously mentioned, we have 66, more than half of which have been hired post-COVID. And it hasn’t been just our team that’s exploded in growth, our physical footprint has expanded as well. With the purchase of the building that will serve as the new home for our R&D and flavor teams and the completion of our game-changing production building, Flavorman’s state-of-the-art Beverage Campus in downtown Louisville, KY now populates an entire city block.

Things have been moving fast, but our team has embraced the changes and inevitable challenges just as we always have throughout our history, especially when times have been toughest. Whether it was almost losing Dave in 2004 when he was hospitalized for over a month or being knocked to our knees by an historic flood in 2009, we’ve been at our best when our best has been needed. For better or worse, in sickness and health, come hell or high water, this company will continue to rise to the challenge because of our selfless leadership, quality of our people, and commitment to each other.

In an interview with Forbes in 2015, Dave talked about his deep appreciation for the people who have shed blood, sweat, and tears right alongside him all these years. With a multimillion offer already on the table, Dave was asked why he hadn’t sold the company.

“I’m not just going to sell and whisk my way off to the Caribbean and leave people here who have helped me build this business. We have very little turnover. Many of our employees started right out of college. I’m only interested in a purchaser who wants to come in and build the business.”

That level of loyalty is why Chief Business Officer Jon Wood is still here after 27 years, Inventory Specialist Scott Reed is going 19 years strong, Special Projects Manager Cory Pierce has been here for 16 years, COO Scott Weddle is on year 13, and Chief Technical Officer Kristen Wemer has been with the company for over a decade. And that’s just to name a few.

Because the more things change, the more they stay the same. We’ve certainly come a long way since Dave bravely left the comfortable confines of corporate America at Brown-Forman and started Pro-Liquitech with nothing but his perfect palate and cash advances from a handful of credit cards, coupled with an uncanny ability to develop unique and original beverages. However, at our core, we’re the same company we’ve always been. Creative, dynamic, intelligent, passionate, driven, determined, and dedicated.

And it starts at the top with a group of steady, unselfish leaders who empower our people by cultivating a culture that shows us grace when we fall short of expectations, looks for solutions without assigning blame, communicates honestly and respectfully, demands quality in everything we do, and celebrates change and growth. The kind of culture that honors an employee’s 19 years of loyalty and hard work by naming its new $8.5M building after him; the kind of culture led by a founder and CEO who didn’t speak or take a shovel at the groundbreaking for the production building because he wanted our new COO to have that moment and become the public face of our company; the kind of culture that’s never lost its way through the years because we’ve always operated with the same commitment to quality and character that we had when we first opened up shop way back in 1992, when The Dream Team was dominating the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Nirvana’s Nevermind was at the top of the charts, and Dave had a lot more black hair.

“As Flavorman enjoyed its 30th year in business and completion of our new production building, I reminded myself that I did not build Flavorman by myself. It was natural to name this building for a long-time co-worker who contributed in many ways to our growth. Companies often talk about creating meaningful company culture, and naming the Scott Reed Building is one way we continue to put words into action.” – Dave Dafoe, Founder & CEO

This is The Flavorman Way.

Have an idea for a new beverage? Flavorman can help you bring it to life! Call us at (502)273-5214 or contact our team through this webform.


Building Company Culture

The History of Flavorman

Our Company Culture

Overcoming Adversity

Written on December 12, 2022.

The holiday season may be a favorite time of year for many, but at Flavorman, we are thrilled to spend this time of year predicting the anticipated 2023 Beverage Trends. Transitioning away from COVID-19’s challenging years, next year’s trends focus on the future of simplicity, functionality, environmental consciousness, and authenticity.

Color Trends: Less is More

With new beverages hitting the shelves every day, shoppers are shifting towards products with more natural components and coloring and tend to avoid artificial colors and ingredients in their products. Beverages are now mainly focusing on the flavor and function of the drink, as opposed to coloration. The lack of color also comes from a shift in popularity of cans instead of glass or plastic bottles. Aluminum cans provide the opportunity to implement clean labeling marketing to promote their natural ingredients. Especially in the distilled spirits world, color continues to be less of a concern. Spirits have primarily stayed consistent with caramel and natural coloring. In a nutshell, consumers feel that less is more when it comes to color, and whatever color there is must derive from its natural ingredients. 

“Even in spirits, very few are looking for innovative coloring. Other than caramel coloring and a handful of botanicals which are acceptable in a few different spirit categories, pea-flower was the only color people were excited about, and now we hear nothing about it.” – Colin Blake, Director of Spirits Education  

2023 Beverage Trends - Color-Less is more

Ingredient Trends: Function is Key

In addition to color trends, product ingredients are also shifting to simpler components for function and health. Last year’s consumers wanted bolder ingredients for nostalgic flavors with guilt-free indulgence, while this year, we’re seeing a shift to a more balanced, health-conscious trend. Developers wish to use ingredients that provide both benefits and satisfying flavors. Even added sugars are increasingly removed from beverages in favor of the natural sugars from juice. 

“A lot of clients are paying attention to the sugar content. They want the taste, but they also want artificial sugars or additives. Juices are becoming the answer. Juice doesn’t show up as added sugars; it provides flavors.” – Katie Clark, Director of Research and Development

Other consumers seek herbal ingredients such as ginseng root to strengthen immune systems, ginger for cognitive energy and pain relief, and pepper flavors that provide a functional mouthfeel. Functional beverages such as energy drinks, anti-hang-over, and detox beverages similarly use light but flavorful herbal ingredients, enough to where it’s palatable for their function. Functional beverages are also shifting their ingredients toward plant-based formulas. 71% of global consumers are seeking out functional and multi-tasking drinks. According to The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), the annual growth of plant-based beverages will become more prevalent between 2020 and 2027 by 11.9%. Beverage brands are picking up on the plant-based trend and its benefits. Most notably, plant-based milk, meal supplements, and fruit juices are in higher demand. Juices and energy drink companies popular with millennials and Gen-Z consumers have incorporated natural caffeine from Yerba, mate, green tea, coffee, guarana, and ginseng. Sweeter beverages have yet to leave the market, although more consumers are seeking ways to improve their daily health and consumption after years of sickness and uncertainty. 

2023 Beverage Trends - Tree of Ingredients

Flavor Trends: A Balanced Blend

The most prominent pattern experts have noticed is a significant rise in citrus flavors, sweeter spirit-flavored cocktails, and flavors used for ready-to-drink beverages. The flavor trend is shifting toward uncomplicated citruses with growing interest in orange, grapefruit, lime, and other berry blends. Other increasingly popular flavor extracts include botanicals such as butterfly pea flower, black tea, and chamomile.

“Citrus flavors are still the same; loads of grapefruit and orange flavors for the past five years. Number 1 is orange, but then there are a lot of variables like tangelo and different mandarins. Number 2 is different berry flavors; strawberry, raspberry, berry-blends, elderberry, and elder-flower. Number 3 is tea. Just generic black tea flavors.” Tom Gibson, Director Flavor Architect 

Transitioning to spirits, distillers have displayed a growing interest in flavored spirits with little to no ABV. Popular flavor blends include whisky, rum, gin, and tequila. These flavor blends create almost indistinguishable products from their alcoholic cousins and are featured in N/A-friendly beverages worldwide. At the same time, demand is growing for well-balanced and bold flavors to be used as added ingredients in ales. Brewers are using flavor additives as a cost-effective and efficient solution to adding more flavored varieties to their existing product lines. Spirit trends are continually innovative because they encourage experimenting and exploring. Especially for the new emerging generation of consumers, beer and spirits are more desirable when they are sweeter and have more flavor varieties. 

“The sober-curious space got away from trying to make mocktails to trying to make something unique and had its own footprints, its own space, and so those flavors got a little wild with combinations that included bitters, and alcohol components, and herbal components.” Scott Weddle, Chief Operating Officer  

On the one hand, beverage trends are leaning more toward light flavors, primarily wanting a balanced taste palette for all drinks, while the world of spirits leans toward the best of both worlds: spirits with sweet and fuller flavors while also exploring lighter options. 

2023 Beverage Trends - Fruit Balanced

Technological Trends: Innovation & Process

Co-packers’ technological innovation often shifts slowly, with a slight change in trends ranging from environmentally safe materials and organic certifications to what consumers can do to utilize multi-use plastic. Trends to watch out for in the new year include:

Retailers striving to obtain organic certification for their beverages and related products. The preference for an organic certification largely stems from the growing prevalence of organic grocery stores such as Whole Foods. With an ever-growing health-conscious consumer market, the clean label essentially certifies and labels products as healthy and free of artificial ingredients and highlights the importance of clean labeling and organic certification. The drive for more organic certifications also affects the ingredients that beverage developers want to invest in, such as herbal, authentic berry blends, low sugar and low-cal, and other factors that will lend themselves to a health-conscious demographic.

Co-packing companies are going through a slow but steady change toward environmentally safer packing materials. While there may be less incentive for co-packing companies to change their methods, many are looking to include ecologically safe options as the Gen Z demographic grows more eco-conscious. Especially within the beverage industry, plastic is often used as a cheap material for binding cans and bottles together in packs. Awareness campaigns by marine biologists have highlighted how harmful plastic is to the ocean; 8 million metric tons of plastic go into the sea annually and biodegrade slowly over hundreds of years. One of the more notable efforts to combat this predicament comes from a Coca-Cola bottling facility in Philadelphia showcasing its fiber-based packaging material instead of plastic. While this might be a small step for the Coca-Cola brand, this trend could allow big brands to pave the way for the smaller beverage brands to pursue environmentally friendly packaging methods. With more customers and retailers becoming more ecologically conscious, alternative forms of co-packing also emerge. 

2023 Beverage Trends - Plastic and Aluminum Cans being knocked over

Aluminum cans are a continuing trend that will prosper because they are more efficient and easier to recycle. However, even recycling aluminum cans has become more complicated due to a concerning factor in the beverage industry: shrink-sleeves/wraps. Shrink sleeves/wraps are an ever-growing trend for a low-cost packaging/printing alternative for cans in the beverage industry. Although they are cost-effective and visually appealing, shrink-sleeves/wraps are an additional hurdle in efficiently recycling aluminum cans because the plastic sleeve/wrap must still be removed. The industry has realized this ever-growing issue and has since released T-perforation options for shrink-sleeves, this new design will become a must-have option when producers opt in for shrink-sleeves.

The budding use of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and polyester bottling in beverage manufacturing is a prominent concern with environmentalists & consumers. Despite the trend of manufacturers using PET for bottling, it’s not without its faults. PET is a form of plastic that is often more easily malleable in use than standard plastic, which is an excellent tool for customizing your products. While many companies will market the recyclability of PET bottles, they need to practice what they preach. Many significant industries still make more plastic than needed and often don’t reuse these supplies. As the PET trend catches on, it’s up to consumers to find creative and ensuring ways of recycling PET plastic bottles for the overall betterment of the earth. As beverage production incorporates new and emerging technological innovations to account for the impact of production on the environment and consumer health, beverage developers must remember to take their time with their ideas to fit the continually evolving changes in the industry. 

“It is critical for new clients to take their time to evaluate all aspects of a beverage formulation, packaging, and production in regulating best practices. Ready-to-drink cocktails and spirits will continue to expand into unconventional packaging formats like aluminum bottles, bag-in-box, and other size offerings over the next few years; emerging brands must take time to develop their products that perfectly combine production with sustainability, ethicality, and long-term growth.”Brad Nichols, Business Development Executive Director

While 2023 brings much-needed ease from years of challenging circumstances, this analysis reminds us that we must be continually conscious of how the products we consume affect our health and our consumption affects our planet’s well-being. With 30 years in the beverage business and over 80,000 drink formulations, Flavorman compiles this annual trends summary and examines various beverage projects passed through its laboratory over the year. We encourage consumers and producers alike to remember that we are all accountable for finding inventive and innovative ways to participate in responsible and healthy consumption.

See how last year’s Flavor Trends compare.

Have a beverage idea that would trend in 2023? Flavorman can help you bring it to life! Call us at (502)273-5214 or contact our team through this webform.


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Written on September 26, 2022.

So, you have a ground-breaking idea for your beverage. Excellent! Now you have to start building a beverage brand!  But where do you start? You could start with the ingredients or the flavor you want to develop. You could begin with how to package it, but the further you travel down that rabbit hole, you may find yourself circling back to how you are going to market your beverage. Doing the hard work upfront such as understanding your target audience, establishing your brand’s identity, and working with the right professionals along the way will help you immensely in building your beverage brand and the strategy you take into the market.

Finding Your Target Audience 

You can start from many different points in the beverage development process but determining your target audience first can help you discover what makes your brand unique and visually appealing, gradually helping you boil down your beverage profile. Whomever you decide to sell your beverage to will play a key role in what goes into your drink and how it’s promoted. Let’s hypothetically say you want your drink to appeal to a Caribbean audience. To do so, you may want to think of more tropical blends of fruit flavors to use in your beverage. Or, if your target audience is children, you might want to brainstorm popular packaging trends in that age demographic.

“Your selection of flavors should appeal to your intended audience and attract them to trying your product. The same could be said with sweetener choices. Choose the ingredients that reinforce your brand identity and makes a difference to your target consumers.”- Brad Nichols, Director of Business Development – Flavorman

When imagining your target audience, not only do you want to consider current trends, but you’ll also want to think about age demographics, what your audience values, and what they will get out of a product. Picking your target audience can be very intuitive; most people aim to create a drink they would like personally or a beverage that appeals to family and friends. While it can be a great place to start, you want to be especially specific, considering that many brands in the market may already fill that void. How will your beverage or brand stand out in the market? It can be a lot to think about, but the best way to narrow your audience down is to consider what people value and how your product might add to their lives. You also might want to think about what entertains or grabs your audience’s attention. When promoting to younger demographics, you might consider using mascots or cartoons. Or, if you’re selling to blue-collar workers, you might want to show how your product can fit or improve their work schedule. Establishing that target audience will not only help make ingredient decisions, but it will also lead to your overall characteristics or brand attributes. 

Building a Beverage Brand

Brand Attributes  

When marketing your beverage, you’ll also want to consider the characteristics that make your brand unique. Think of it this way, many brands have attributes that set them apart; for example, Amazon emphasizes its fast-shipping delivery or, Digiorno emphasizes its restaurant-quality pizza. Other brands use their intriguing backstories to promote their products, such as Uncle Nearest and others that advertise for convenience, like Kool-Aid. When establishing the identity of your brand, brainstorm the unique features that separate you from your competitors.

“Brand attributes are the pillars that set the foundation for the narrative or the strategic positioning of your brand in the marketplace. That’s critical because being consistent against that foundation or that narrative is really what’s going to set your brand apart in the marketplace and really attract people to it.”Jeff Insco, President/Executive Director – UPBrand

Does your brand have a captivating story behind its creation? Is there something in your beverages that will improve someone’s life? Are there other services that you want to provide under the brand? Our brand attributes help establish our own identity that we use to make our brand unique and stay consistent. One way to help you begin conjuring your brand attributes is to think of your brand as a living being. What descriptors would you attach to them? Brand attributes are the conceptual ideas, characteristics, and stories that paint a mental picture of the brand. Once those brand attributes are established you can work on developing a product that fits your brand and create your visual identity. 

 Building a Beverage Brand

Flavorman’s Brand Attributes:

  • The Total Beverage Package: Unlike others in the beverage formulation space, our services span the entire continuum of the beverage development process. We offer beverage education, certification, flavor formulation, production, regulatory, R&D, sourcing, manufacturing and more— a single source solution.
  • Unmatched Expertise:  We bring decades of experience from the beverage industry. Our seasoned team represents a range in specialties including flavor chemistry, product development, production, distillery operations, beverage quality control, packaging, and other technical beverage areas with access to an extensive roster of industry partners. Throughout the experience with [our brand], clients learn from the best in the business.
  • Your constant collaborator:  Flavorman considers our client’s beverage a journey. The process is designed to ensure clients have a voice and gain important industry knowledge to increase their opportunity for success. We win when clients win.
  • An Elite Experience:  We’ve spent decades perfecting our services, processes and products to give customers a world-class experience and uphold our reputation for excellence in the beverage industry. From the first encounter to their finished product, clients reap the benefits of our immersive, service-oriented business model. We provide solutions!
  • Customized to a Client’s Vision: No client’s experience, goals, or dreams are the same. Flavorman provides solutions and flexibly designed to deliver what a client requires and explores the possibilities for what a client could achieve.

Visual Identity  

One of the first things you think of when you think of a brand you like is the logo. Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Jim Beam and many more brands have memorable visual identities that grab your attention. Once you have established your brand attributes, you can start conceptualizing your brand’s visual identity. While working with a marketing agency, you can begin creating branded collateral and ensure that your brand’s visual aesthetic fits today’s standards. First, you must set the stage of your visual identity, which means deciding on a few key elements such as color, typography, voice/tone, and aesthetic styles that ultimately help you create a visual portfolio that represents your brand. Your brand’s visual identity needs to stay consistent throughout all platforms and mediums. A combination of those visual attributes will give you the tools to create a roadmap for your brand’s visual story. Afterwards you can start thinking about your logos, labels, website, packaging, and advertisements for your product. It’s important to note that your visual identity is more than just one of these visual aspects; they are visual pieces of a larger puzzle that tell the story and characteristics of your brand. 

“We use the brand attributes and assets to inspire our creative team to create a visual vocabulary for the brand. That could be colors, typefaces or fonts, iconography, logo marks; all the things that are going to visually send a cue about your brand.”- Jeff Insco, President/Executive Director – UPBrand

Building a Beverage Brand

Once you’ve done the hard work of identifying your target audience, establishing brand attributes, and creating a visual identity you’re ready to begin strategizing. Your market strategy will cover distribution, advertising, public relations, content creation, and social media. Having a solid market strategy will help you control the narrative of your brand, how it’s regarded, and how it’s discussed. Everything from an intriguing backstory of your product, demographics, brand attributes, and the resulting consistent visual themes, all play a role in establishing the overall identity of your brand and how you communicate that to the market.

“When looking for a marketing agency, be open about the problems you’re trying to solve. Agencies are fundamentally creative problem solvers. Be fully transparent and authentic about what you’re trying to do. It’s how we work best with our clients, and that’s the same throughout the business.” McKenzie Telthorst, VP of Brand Management – UPBrand

When you’re ready to talk about your idea to change what the world is drinking, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.


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Written on March 30, 2022.

So, you’re a new beverage company and everything is coming together. You have the world’s tastiest drink locked up. You have the best team in place to sell it and distribute it to the perfect markets. You’ve done the research, you’ve got a plan, you are in control. But now you need to actually produce this game-changing beverage. How do you pick a contract manufacturer or bottling company to turn all your hard work into a real, tangible, drinkable beverage? And once you’ve done that, how do you know that everything is going according to plan?

Pick a Co-Packer

There are plenty of names for the companies that blend, fill, seal, and label your beverage. Whether you call it a bottling company, a canner, a copacker, or a contract manufacturer, the terms are loosely interchangeable. These are all companies that combine the necessary raw ingredients for your drink and then get them into your packaging for sale. But each copacker is going to have its own processes, specialties. How do you know who to trust with your business?

Picking a copacker is an important decision and there are a few things to keep in mind. Specifically: don’t rush. Take your time and make your decision based off of as much information as you can acquire. Make some phone calls, ask for advice, peruse their websites. Do the work. Selecting this partner is one of the major keys to producing a winning beverage. Make sure that they have the capacity and capability to make a drink to your specifications. It’s your business, so take the extra time to get this choice right the first time.

Acquire Raw Materials

It is vital that the lines of communication between you and your copacker stay open. One great example of this is the acquisition of raw materials.  Some co-packers will want to handle all the ordering themselves — your beverage ingredients (sweeteners, functional ingredients, flavors, colors, etc), and your packaging (i.e. bottles, labels, cartons) themselves. Others will expect you to place and arrange all those moving pieces yourself. Work with your copacker to have clear expectations of who is responsible for what aspect of material acquisition.

Acquire Raw Materials

Production Manual

You’ve picked your copacker and you’ve managed to get all of the necessary materials to their facility.  It’s time to make your drink! But how? This is where your copacker will expect a clear set of instructions about how to combine all those raw materials into a delicious, ready-for-market drink. At Flavorman, we provide an extensive Production Manual that hits all the required notes. It’s easy to read, thorough, and contains all the necessary specifications and instructions that will make life easier for your copacker. Before your production is started or even scheduled, it’s good to review this information with your copacker to make sure that there will be no ugly and costly surprises on the way to getting your first unit filled.

Production Manual

Schedule a Date

Now that you and your copacker are confident about how to make your beverage, it’s time to decide when. This is another point at which open communication is important. Some copackers will give you a specific date and require the materials all be on hand as much as two weeks ahead of time. Others will give you a range of dates. And still others will require everything has arrived at their facility before they can provide your official date for a production run. Have clear expectations and communicate them regularly. If you did your research, you’ll know your copackers regulations and requirements before you reach this stage. Work with your suppliers to get lead times that fit your copacker’s schedule and are realistic for your supply chain.

Have a Presence

The greatest copacker of all time with the best of intentions and the best possible instructions can still make mistakes. One way to help prevent this is to be present. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to physically be at the production facility on the day of your production (though that’s a good idea, too!). Being present means staying involved and staying informed about your production. If you aren’t able for whatever reason to personally attend, many copackers will accommodate you with phone call updates or even video conferencing. But there is nothing that can replace having someone there to advocate for your business. Maybe it is someone from your organization, but maybe that representative will be a trusted third party. The production process consists of batching (making your beverage), and filling (getting it into your bottle or can). Having someone other than the copacker there to taste and test your beverage after batching and to physically hold your drink after filling is irreplaceable.

Have a Presence

Flavorman recommends having a technical representative attend your production.  This is especially true for first productions. Whether it’s the first time you are making a drink or the first time working with a new copacker, first productions are more likely to experience difficulties and therefore more aided by the presence of technical professionals. Having a highly trained technician familiar with your beverage present offers the following benefits:

1 — Answer Questions: A Flavorman Representative can answer any questions that your copacker may have about the beverage or Production Manual. Furthermore, they can also answer questions for you! It can be a long and confusing day for your first production. Having someone to walk you through the processes while your copackers are busily at work can be a great comfort.

2 — Catch Errors: Their familiarity with your beverage and the manufacturing process can help stop problems before they arise. Specifically, in the “batching” process it can be extremely handy to have professionals present to keep an eye on the process and confirm that it’s being done according to your requirements.

3 — Ensure Quality: Understanding the organoleptic (taste, smell, color) properties of your beverage is one of Flavorman’s calling cards. Having a technician on site to test your finished product to make sure that it is properly representative of your intended drink is a great insurance policy. You want all units of your beverage to taste exactly the way it did when you perfected it! Beyond just the sensory evaluations, having a member of the Flavorman quality team at your production allows you to have someone who understands all the numbers that are being thrown around. Are your densities, BRIX, pH, and proofs all coming out according to plan? They can tell you!


Transforming your beverage from an idea into a real, tangible product can seem interminable. And just when you think you’ve reached the finish line, you are faced with the important decision of picking a copacker. There are great options all over the world, but there may only be one that meets your needs perfectly. Hopefully you now feel a little more comfortable about what that process looks like and the pieces it consists of.

Remember to do your research, ask around, and take your time when picking your copacker. Once you’ve found the perfect match, keep the lines of communication open and the expectations of both sides clear and manageable. And when the day comes to finally fill your drink into your bottles, make sure you’ve got experts on your side who can monitor the process and advocate for your business. Working with industry experts can help you get across the finish line on your way to having your beverage hit the market.

When you’re ready to talk about your idea to change what the world is drinking, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.


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Written on December 2, 2021.

2022 Beverage Trends

Experts at the Louisville, KY-based beverage development company, Flavorman, have announced the drink trends to watch for in 2022. Driven by the long-term effects of an ongoing pandemic, this year’s forecast is shaping up to focus on celebrating life’s simple pleasures while striving for balance.

Going Big & Bold: As evidenced by the seltzer boom of the last few years, drinks with subtle displays of flavor have previously taken center stage, but that is likely to change in 2022. With the seltzer market beginning to saturate, beverage makers are now seeking ways to differentiate from the competition, opting for bigger and bolder profiles.

Client requests have taken a 180-degree turn on flavor, especially where seltzers and sparkling waters are concerned,” said Tom Gibson, Flavorman’s Chief Flavorist. “Whereas before, clients would be looking for a gentler spritz of nuanced flavors in their drink, we are now seeing more clients ask for loud and proud, single-note flavors.

In the wake of COVID-19 — a virus that is notorious for attacking a person’s taste and smell — it makes sense that drinks with prominently featured and straightforward flavors may provide reassurance to consumers still recovering from sensory loss related to the virus, or those who are just concerned with changes to their senses in general.

In 2022, expect beverage makers to continue emphasizing the presence of familiar flavors in drinks across categories. Childhood favorites like watermelon, strawberry, cherry, apple and grape will see a resurgence as consumers reach for those immediately recognizable and nostalgic profiles.


Guilt-Free Indulgence: As the world becomes more accustomed to the challenges of an ongoing pandemic, consumers are learning to strive for balance in all aspects of their life. Rather than sacrificing on indulgent experiences, consumers are embracing them with some slight modifications.

Citrus flavors have been a cornerstone for the drinks industry, but consumer tastes are now evolving towards botanical-forward beverages–particularly in the premium sector. Floral profiles like hibiscus, lavender and elderflower are becoming more mainstream and making way for the earthier, more herbal flavors of turmeric, anise and rosemary.

Many of the ingredients you would find in your kitchen spice cabinet can introduce an extra element to a drink, providing new dimensions of flavor or functionality,” said Katie Clark, Flavorman’s Lab Manager. “Consumers tend to react to these twists with greater expectations–an insight that brands can leverage in premium beverage offers.

2022 Beverage Trends

Because premium is also so often associated with quality, ingredients like juice and full sugar are also becoming more popular in beverages marketed as high-end. Consumers indulging in these drinks aren’t as concerned with calorie restrictions or sugar because they recognize that they are treating themselves to a unique experience. The same can be observed in the spirits and beverage alcohol sectors.

In the spirits world, amaro, absinthe and other botanical spirits are seeing a renaissance,” said Colin Blake, Director of Spirits Education at Moonshine University, the sister company of the Flavorman Beverage Campus. “These drinks tend to have a distinctive quality due to their balance of bitter and sweet, and they are consumed in very particular ways, usually before or directly following a meal. Consumers in the premium sector have embraced the ritual involved as another way of replicating a bar experience.


A Return to Simplicity: Simplicity provides a source of comfort during a time when life feels like it has become much more complicated. In fact, the ongoing “clean label” trend shows us how the quality of ingredients, not quantity, is shaping consumer perceptions of the value of a beverage. It also explains why drinks with simple ingredient statements continue to be consumer favorites.

Transparency has, time and time again, proven to be important to consumers,” said Clark. “Many clients seeking compliance with Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and other ‘better-for-you’ food and beverage retailers have simply opted to do away with sweeteners or added colors instead of combing through the accepted ingredient lists. Consumers don’t seem to mind.

2022 Beverage Trends

With health and wellness continuing to drive trends as we move into 2022, beverage brands will opt for simplicity in beverage formulations across the board. In the spirits sector, simplicity takes the form of moderation.

Going low- or no-alcohol is a lifestyle choice that some consumers are rallying behind as a way to achieve holistic health goals, said Clark. This trend has fueled explosive growth in non-alcoholic spirits and ready-to-drink mocktails–as well as lower ABV wine-based cocktails–that we expect to continue into the New Year.

With nearly 30 years in the beverage business and over 70,000 drink formulations, Flavorman compiles this annual trends summary through examination of beverage projects that have passed through its laboratory over the last 12 months.


See how last year’s Flavor Trends compare.

Have a drink idea that you think will excel in 2022? Flavorman can help you bring it to life. Give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or contact our team through this webform.


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Written on June 30, 2021.

Creating a successful beverage business involves more than a great idea. The reality is you’ll need a few key partners to bring your dream drink to the masses. 

You’ve worked with a beverage developer to create your custom formulation, secured your ingredients and packaging, and found a manufacturer to produce your drink–the next step is mapping out your route to market. So, how do you get there? 

Whether you’ve got an alcoholic or non-alcoholic product, you’ll want to find a distributor. Distributors are partners that help brands connect and sell their products to the right retailers–that’s everyone from convenience and grocery stores to restaurants and bars.

Though each has their relevance in the beverage industry, not every distributor is the same. Finding the right distributor means understanding the distribution landscape, knowing what to look for, and how to set yourself up for success. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the nuances involved in working with an alcohol distributor, specifically. Alcohol distribution is a complex and highly regulated space, so we hope that this expert piece gives you a head start in working through some of the many considerations involved in launching an alcohol product.


Understanding Distribution: What Is It?

Distribution is all about relationships. From a topline view, a distributor (or wholesaler) serves as an extension of the sales arm of beverage brands (called suppliers). When a partnership agreement is reached between a supplier and wholesaler, the distributor takes on the responsibility of introducing and selling products to retailers. At the same time, a wholesaler works with the supplier to build a brand consumers return to time and time again.

In addition to being a steward of the brand, a distributor serves as tax collector for the supplier side and pays state and local taxes on behalf of the brands they represent. This frees up the supplier from the role of ensuring the tax code is met in each specific state and locality in which their product is served.

Beyond that, large distributors like RNDC can also act as a full-scale resource to their supplier partners–this is where the brand-building element comes in. It’s in a distributor’s best interests to consult with suppliers on sales, marketing, and strategic planning and provide support to help them be successful.


Alcohol Vs. Non-Alcohol Wholesalers

The simplest way to summarize the differences between an alcohol and non-alcohol distributor is the product. But naturally, there are several associated legal limitations that go along with distributing alcohol versus non-alcohol products. 

For one, alcohol distributors experience a degree of federal oversight that non-alcohol wholesalers aren’t necessarily subjected to. Unlike non-alcohol distributors, federal oversight of alcohol wholesalers extends beyond the product development phase, affecting everything from funding and label creation to compliance within the nuances of state and local laws.

Another key difference based on the nature of the product is that non-alcohol distributors can serve most retailers, whereas an alcohol distributor can only sell to licensed premises. Of course, many alcohol wholesalers also carry a number of non-alcohol brands whose intention is to be sold with alcohol. This can be beneficial for cross-merchandising and planning programs for retailers to carry multiple complementary products from a distributor’s portfolio.


Contacting An Alcohol Distributor

If you’re reading this, you’re either exploring the possibility of launching a beverage company or you’re in the midst of developing your drink and brand–when should you contact an alcohol distributor?

Well, when you’re ready. 

Depending on who you ask, this can be defined in a few different ways; at the very least, you’ll want to have a crystalized concept and viable business plan. A wholesaler needs to understand enough to be able to see how they would take your product to market and be successful doing so. 

A supplier might feel ready to have these conversations as early as two years prior to releasing the product, or in as little as several months leading up to a launch. What matters isn’t necessarily when the conversation happens, but whether the supplier is prepared.

First impressions are everything. The reality is that a distributor and supplier’s first meeting together is the pitch. It’s the interview where both parties have the opportunity to sell one another on why they would make great partners.


Acing Your First Alcohol Distributor Meeting

Okay, you’ve determined that you’re officially ready to meet with a potential alcohol distributor–what should you bring with you?

This is a wholesaler’s first experience with you and your brand, so you should bring a presentation. Make sure to include answers to questions like,

  • What’s your backstory? 
  • What got you involved in the brand? What’s going to keep you involved in the brand?
  • What is your brand vision and values? 
  • What plans or innovations do you have for future growth?
  • And of course, what is your product and what makes it unique? How does your product fit in the market?

Remember–distribution is all about relationships. A wholesaler wants to know as much about you as they do about your brand and product. You are who they will be working with, and they want to make sure that you will be a good fit in a partnership–that everyone’s values and expectations are in alignment so both parties can be successful.

In addition to a presentation, it goes without saying that you should have samples, as well as the spec sheets for your product. A distributor should be able to experience your brand the same way a retailer or consumer would. Give them the opportunity to taste, touch, and see it–to use all of their senses to fully understand the product and your brand. 

As a wholesaler assesses your product, they will also be determining its quality and quality-price ratios, in addition to benchmarking it against other products in their portfolio to determine whether it makes sense for the relationship. Keep this in mind as you prepare your presentation–your craft gin isn’t just another gin, so, prove it. Leverage your story.


Picking The Right Alcohol Distributor

Wow, you’ve impressed your distributor. That’s wonderful! Now, how do you determine that they are the right fit for you, too? There are three main elements that can help you make a decision. 

First of all, find out if they are relevant in the market–specifically, your market. Go to your desired retailers and ask around. Find out who they enjoy working with and why. After all, you should want to partner with the distributor that retailers want to work with. That’s already an easy way to set yourself up for success.

Second is route-to-market strategy. This is a primary responsibility of your alcohol distributor, so naturally, you’ll want to make sure your expectations are in alignment. Are they receptive to the direction you’ve envisioned for your brand? What can they contribute to bringing that vision to reality? 

A distributor should both be willing to work with you on where you want to go with the brand and be equipped with the resources and relationships necessary to do so. Not every brand makes sense for every distributor, and that’s okay.

This third consideration goes back to understanding the distribution process. A great wholesaler manages to balance multiple brands within the same category and avoid conflicts of interest. It’s a juggling act, but there is a place for most viable brands in the market. 

That being said, while a retail establishment often has more space on the shelf for a given category, a bar or restaurant may be limited in that same real estate. Knowing what competitive products an alcohol distributor carries can help you determine how often your product might be put aside in favor of another, competing product in those circumstances.


Building A Successful Partnership

A relationship between a wholesaler and a supplier is like a marriage–it’s a true partnership. This is also why setting expectations together is an important part of building a successful relationship. 

An alcohol distributor is there primarily to break down a supplier’s barriers to market. Often that involves working with each retailer and assessing what makes sense for them to carry, providing good data for them around a product, and helping them successfully build a product into their store.

On the supplier’s side, a great partner is expected to be engaged with their distributor. That means picking up a phone and checking in, planning business together, walking through marketing strategies, and utilizing the wholesaler’s resource teams. It also means having reviews to follow up and ensure plans are coming to fruition as expected.

 RNDC utilizes a “work-with” schedule, where suppliers have the opportunity to venture into the market to present that product with the sales team to retailers and customers. Not only does this educate the sales team, but it also creates a personal relationship between the supplier and retailer. This is incredibly valuable because the best suppliers are those that are engaged with their market and their wholesaler relationships. 

Beyond engaging with a distributor so they can be effective stewards of the product to retailers, a supplier is responsible for the consumer side of brand building. As a supplier, you should know the answers to questions like,

  • How do you plan to market your product and brand?
  • What kind of digital presence will you have? What about events? Where else can you reach your target consumer?
  • How will you drive people to the store to buy your product?

Once a product has been placed with a retailer, how do you make sure consumers know that, or even care to seek it out? That’s your job, as the supplier. 

Of course, passion for your dream is what got you into this industry, so sharing your story with the world should come as second nature. While the other aspects of creating a beverage may be a challenge, the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Take the time to educate yourself and find the right partners, and you’ll discover the flavor of success–your drink.

When you’re ready to talk about developing your beverage idea with Flavorman, fill out this web form or give us a call at (502) 273-5214. Let’s change what the world is drinking, together. If you want to learn more about RNDC, visit


About Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC): RNDC is one of the nation’s leading wholesale beverage alcohol distributors, specializing in wine and spirits. RNDC serves as a brand-building and product expert liaison between suppliers and those who sell or serve alcoholic beverages. Customer service, product expertise, and executional excellence are the hallmarks of RNDC’s enduring success. Visit to learn more.

About Casey Cline: Casey Cline is the Division Manager over the Portfolio Management Team at Republic National Distributing Company, Kentucky. He has served with RNDC for 15 years, managing each element of the business, including off- and on-premise sales. He now manages all brand teams.


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Written on March 31, 2021.

Running a successful beverage business isn’t about launching a single great product. No matter how fantastic your drink, consumers will eventually begin to look for something new from your brand. This is where a reformulation or product line extension may prove fruitful.

As you consider what’s next for your thriving beverage business, think about these 6 FAQs:


Written on December 8, 2020.

Our beverage experts formulate dozens of new and innovative drinks for clients every day, making them a valuable resource on the latest flavor trends. After a particularly turbulent year, our team got together to share their insights on the top flavors we expect to take over the beverage industry in the New Year.

Driven by the long-term effects of an on-going pandemic, this year’s forecast is shaping up to be focused on creating experiences in a socially distant landscape. Here are the 2021 flavor trends to watch out for:

Written on August 26, 2020.

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Ready-to-Drink (RTD) cocktails continue to dominate the beverage space. Though already on the upwards trend pre-COVID, the RTD cocktail category experienced an unprecedented boost just as the US was beginning to feel the effects of the virus.

Written on May 20, 2020.

The beverage industry is one of the most dynamic business sectors out there. But while the ever-evolving landscape of the beverage world may be exciting, it also comes with a unique set of challenges. Whether you’re a passionate entrepreneur or an established drink company seeking to expand your product lines, there’s certainly no shortage of risks involved in launching a beverage product — but luckily, there are a few ways you can stay prepared throughout the process.