We had the good fortune of connecting with Miller Duvall and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Miller, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
Community. If you’re going to start a business, you’re going to be working way too much, so you better be around people who inspire you, who make you laugh, who are responsible, who have great taste in music… Those people can be your co-workers, your neighbors, or your customers. The important thing is that they provide you with a sense of human connection and, in some way, teach you, inspire you, and show how to be a better person.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Spirit Guild is a craft distillery, founded by a sixth-generation California farmer, located in Los Angeles’ Arts District. Our flagship brands, Astral Pacific Gin and Vapid Vodka, are distilled entirely from the juice of locally-grown clementines. Maintaining a close connection with local agriculture is essential to our brand and it’s something we’re proud of. We’re excited to launch a new project. Formulary will be a portfolio of limited-release, seasonal spirits, ones that will deepen our connection to local produce and local flavors and will give us an opportunity to create bolder and more playful expressions. Introducing our products to the world has not always been easy. Because we distill our spirits from California citrus (rather than purchasing industrially-made grain ethanol: a common strategy), our bottles are not always the cheapest. Moreover, there’s a lot of money spent on aggressive marketing by the big legacy brands. Oftentimes, their goal seems to be more about creating a mythology than educating the consumer. The good news for us is, that once people hear about who we are, and, more importantly, try our spirits, we gain loyal fans.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The Arts District: We’re so lucky that we’re in this vibrant and amazing neighborhood! I like to take guests on a tour of the various places that serve our spirits. It’s cool that we get to collaborate with so many talented bartenders. Guerrilla Tacos, Manuela, Brera, Bar Mateo, Everson Royce Bar, Factory Kitchen, Bestia, Bavel, In Sheep’s Clothing, Here And Now… I love what Los Angeles has contributed to architecture and design, some of it classic, some of it quirky. (The stained glass windows of our tasting room is our homage to mid-Century culty chic!) Clifton’s, The Gamble House, Los Angeles Athletic Club, various Neutra Houses, Hotel Bonaventura… I have a bunch of favorite Los Angeles bands. Alas, I won’t be seeing them play anytime soon. Check them out on the usual platforms! Flames Of Durga, Manhattan Murder Mystery, The Letter Openers, Rough Church, Fort King, The Brunch Crowd…
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m a big Alice Waters fan. I can’t think of anyone who has made such on a positive impact on restaurant culture, food production, and how we eaten general. I’m old enough to remember how terrible the food often was (even the “fancy food”) in the early 1970’s! It’s been gratifying to watch (and taste) the journey toward fresher, more healthy, and more locally-sourced food, thanks to Alice. The funny thing is that I’ve never even been to Chez Panisse, although I read Alice’s memoir published for the restaurant’s 40th-anniversary. It was gratifying to learn that she was also having a lot of fun while she, with a ton of help from her friends, was reinventing how the world eats!
Photos: Anna Curtis, JUCO, Miller Duvall