David Dafoe runs Flavorman, a 35-person business in Louisville that grossed $7 million in revenue last year concocting both soft and hard drink flavors for big players like Ocean Spray and Sunsweet and for artisanal producers like Dumante, maker of an espresso-flavored liqueur. Founded in 1992by Dafoe, Flavorman also runs Moonshine University, which offers courses in crafting distilled spirits. Fueled by the boom in boutique spirits, Dafoe, 53, expects revenue to double in 2015. In an interview that has been condensed and edited, I recently spoke with him about how he stumbled into the flavor business and built his company while contending with a serious illness that at one point left him blind and unconscious for three weeks.

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