The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2012

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IN THE BIZ The Beverage CIA H BEVERAGE DEVELOPMENT COMPANY FLAVORMAN WORKS UNDER THE RADAR story and photos by Fred Minnick is arms folded, surrounded by thousands of products he helped develop, David Dafoe simply says, "I can't tell you about a lot of stuff we work on." As the founder of Flavorman, a Louisville, KY–based beverage development company, Dafoe and his colleagues work with every major spirits company to create new products. Energy drinks with vodka? That was Dafoe. Flavored whiskey? That was Flavorman, too. In a sense, his team is the CIA of the beverage business, always hush-hush about what they're working on, but has a hand in every category in the business. Flavorman is so sophisticated with its operation that even a spy could not figure out what they were working on. In their labs and warehouses, at any given time, they stock hun- dreds of brands that are not their clients. Dafoe calls it, "peppering in other products," so no outsider can determine which brands they're working with or get a whiff of what they're creating. A former Brown-Forman employee who once worked in a lab with current Maker's Mark David Dafoe is the founder of Louisville bev- erage development company Flavorman. Master Distiller Greg Davis, Dafoe brings decades of knowledge to spirits brands seeking to create new products. Distillers in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, for example, sent Dafoe bourbon samples from which to create flavored concepts that will eventually reach consumer taste buds as the next flavored-whiskey trend. This method has worked with Jones Soda, with Crispin Hard Apple Cider, with Chiquita Brands' Polynesian Passion and with Rhythm, a new citrus liqueur. "Our approach with any beverage is the same—we track the trends and create tastes that appeal to consumers," Dafoe says. There are only five beverage development companies in the country, Dafoe says, but only Flavorman has a sister company that is a distillery. The Distilled Spirits Epicenter and Grease Monkey Distillery operate just a few feet away from Dafoe's super-secret lab, which includes a kosher facility and an apartment for guests. The Epicenter boasts beautiful distillation equipment: a 250-gallon cooker, three 335-gallon fermenters, 250-gallon pot still and a 20-tray copper vodka col- umn. In addition to using these gorgeous Vendome stills for Flavorman's clients, Dafoe plans to use them to educate budding entrepreneurs. At his Moonshine University, people wanting to enter the spirits business can develop a powerful marketing program while learning from retired master distillers and seasoned pros who know how to maneuver through government regulations. "There's a lot to learn in starting a spirits company," Dafoe says. "Louisville is the perfect place for this, because we have so many Kentucky-based distillers and spirits executives here." 76 / the tasting panel / october 2012 At the Flavorman lab, beverage devel- opers create new tastes, not only antici- pating but driving consumer demand. Some of the beverage products developed at Flavorman.

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