Barrel-Aged Branding – Panel

Laura Crahan, Dac Austin, Austin Dunbar, Derek Hulsey, David Volker, Jay Erisman, Zach Stewart, Jim Zimmer

Barrel-Aged Branding Panelists

Get to know how distilleries thrive in their respective communities! Barrel-Aged Branding is an interactive virtual panel discussion with the goal of exploring the commonalities between distilling and design. Learn from industry experts from across multiple cities as they share their stories and experiences, and answer the question: What makes distillery branding and package design unique?


In the spirit of celebrating (almost) the end of the week, we are preparing some special cocktail and mocktail recipes for our attendees to enjoy during the panel as we cover featured projects from each agency before opening the floor for questions.


Moderated by Jim Zimmer, our panel includes these incredible designers and distilleries:


Laura Crahan | Louisville – Creative Services Manager at Heaven Hill Brands

Dac Austin | Louisville – Lead Designer at Rabbit Hole Distillery

Derek Hulsey | Indianapolis – Art Director at Young & Laramore

Austin Dunbar | Cincinnati – Principal Durham Brand Co.

David Volker | Cincinnati – Senior Creative Director at LPK

Jay Erisman | Cincinnati – Co-Founder at New Riff Distillery

Zach Stewart | Louisville – Director of Design at Doe-Anderson


About the Panelists


Laura Crahan has served as the Creative Services Manager at Heaven Hill Brands since 2014. Laura spearheaded the development of Heaven Hill’s in-house creative design team in Louisville, KY, and is responsible for the ongoing management of the Creative Services Department. Her team is responsible for a vast array of projects among Heaven Hill’s diverse portfolio of brands, including designing packaging, promotional displays and other point of sale materials, as well as advertising for Heaven Hill’s visitor centers. Prior to Heaven Hill, Laura worked in agency account management, including eight years at Creative Alliance (now Scoppechio) on a variety of food & beverage accounts.


Dac Austin founded NOT A CANNED HAM, a boutique design studio that specializes in brand identity and typography. Today, he leads the design team at Rabbit Hole, a super-premium whiskey brand, as well as teaches at the University of Louisville. His designs have appeared in Communication Arts, The DieLine, How, Graphis, as well as in markets around the globe. When not designing, he spends time with his wife and daughters and plays guitar every chance he can.


Derek Hulsey is Art Director at Young & Laramore in Indianapolis. A multi-instrumentalist and not-that-distant relative of Merle Haggard, Derek has channeled a bit of that outlaw spirit to create branding and packaging for three local beverage houses: Four Day Ray Brewing, Metazoa Brewing Company, and Hotel Tango Distillery. His work for Hotel Tango recently racked up some pretty high acclaim from the One Club, Communication Arts, and the American Distillery Institute. And if that’s not enough award names to read, he’s also been recognized in PATTERN Magazine’s “#Next” issue honoring creatives under 30.


Austin Dunbar is the founder of Durham Studio, a hand-in-hand brand-building design studio in Covington, KY. Since opening its doors in 2014, Durham has crafted unfiltered, top-notch creative work for national corporations to local champions including 1 Hotels, Adobe, Bud Light, Braxton Brewing Co, Fat Tire, New Riff Distilling, Old Spice and more. The studio has been featured on The Dieline, Forbes, Gear Patrol, Print, Uncrate, Vogue, Whiskey Advocate and others.


David Volker is Senior Creative Director at LPK, a brand and innovation consultancy headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, bringing over 15 years of experience designing breakthrough brands in the wine, beer and liquor category. In 2019, David led the consultancy’s partnership with Kentucky distillery New Riff, developing a strategic rebrand and bottle design that helped launch a new chapter of growth. Since, the package has medaled at the prestigious World Wine & Spirits Competition and won a 2019 Drinks Business Award.


Jay Erisman is the co-founder of New Riff Distilling, a distillery in Newport, KY, on a mission to become one the world’s great small distilleries. With a commitment to Whiskey, quality and craft, New Riff Distilling has the freedom to innovate and collaborate, riff on the old and redefine the new. The distillery is now launching its Bourbon that embraces the ultimate quality benchmark: Bottled in Bond Without Chill Filtration.


Zach Stewart is an award-winning art director and designer whose work has won recognition by AAF, AIGA, Communication Arts and Graphis. He has designed for brands as diverse as Carrier Corporation; Drees Homes; Goodwood Brewing Co.; Harrah’s Entertainment; Jim Beam; Kentucky Science Center; Maker’s Mark; Norton Healthcare; and Wirtz Beverage Group, among others. He served as Creative Group Director on Maker’s Mark from 2018-2020 until recently taking on the role of Director of Design at Doe-Anderson Advertising. He continues to oversee Maker’s Mark on a national and global level.


Jim Zimmer is equal parts design-obsessed creative director, integrated thinker, discerning designer, lead-by-example manager and all-around tall person. He runs the award-winning design studio Zimmer-Design alongside his wife and design director Jessica Zimmer in Louisville, KY.