BevCon Los Angeles – The Business and Flavors in the Spirits World

With an eclectic gathering of attendees and presenters at this year’s BevCon Los Angeles, folks were treated to a tremendous wealth of information. Just about every conceivable aspect of the business was covered, from the type of sugarcane needed to make a great rum, all the way through the supply chain to the point of delivery to the consumer at retail or at the bar. All spirits and beverages were covered; I was not the only one amazed at the endless variety out there.
The session about fundraising attracted entrepreneurs looking to raise capital. Pialy Aditya took us through the stair steps in the climb to capitalization. Managing cap tables, exit strategies and other topics were well covered.
Another informative business session on trademark was led by a pair of lawyers who deftly described the ‘consumer confusion’ standard of review. With graphic examples, attendees saw the perils of failure to research the possible competition prior to product launch.

Many eyes, ears and palates were opened during the presentation about the burgeoning business of rum. The disparate climates around the globe result in a huge variety of sugarcane, with the best coming from volcanic territories.

Also intriguing was the session on Portuguese wines.

Scotsman Johnnie Mundell delivered a grand discussion around single malt whisk(e)y. He had attendees mimicking trees in the wind to describe how cells stretch and affect the ultimate taste. He also explained the difference of oaks from Scotland, Japan and America. I liked that he broke down the belief that age equates to better taste. Amid the endless sampling of product, a small cup held the dry barley. Smelling it while Mundell described the Scottish bogs and peat in his brogue was a voyage without leaving my chair. The laughs and the tastings flowed freely.

The influence of hip hop was discussed by Tanisha Townshend. Although most cognac produced in France is exported, it was hip hop that shone a new light on that beverage relatively recently. But it is champagne that is mentioned most often in hip hop, which Townsend traced to black GIs stationed in France in WW2. She elicited a great debate on the most mentioned brand in hip hop. She also shared the double secret recipe to one of the drinks referenced early in hip hop: Funky Cold Medina.

Alcohol references align with the aspirational nature of hip hop.

Ciroc vodka saw a surge in sales when P. Diddy became a brand ambassador.

Other great sessions included:

  • Climate Change Through the Lens of Winemaking
  • Pop Life: How to Create and Market Pop-Up Bars
  • Laying a Roadmap for Diversity
  • Emerging Technology in the Restaurant & Bar Industry
  • Hip Hop’s Influence on the World of Wine and Spirits
  • Dealing with Disasters
  • Malt Momentum: The Modern World of Single Malt Whiskey
  • Beer Blind Tasting

By the way, the apparent wisdom is that there is no ‘e’ in Scotland, but there is an ‘e’ in Ireland…so that apparently solves the spelling issue of whisk(e)y.



Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.