Legacy and Creativity: A Spirited Conversation with Few Spirits Founder and Master Distiller, Paul Hletko
When you think about legacy in the American whiskey business, many names come to mind harkening back to generations of families that passed down techniques and trade secrets so that the name, brand, and product remained intact and of the highest quality decade after decade.
Imagine, however, if your legacy was tied to a different storyline. What if your family had a brewery that was seized by a dictator and on top of that, your family imprisoned? And if this history wasn’t bad enough – imagine if only one person survived the imprisonment and spent a lifetime struggling to get back what was taken?
Hopefully none of us would have to contemplate such a family history, but this is exactly the background that Paul Hletko, Founder and Master Distiller of Few Spirits, has experienced. Paul’s grandfather was the sole survivor of his family’s death at the hands of the Nazi’s in a concentration camp in Poland. A once successful brewery was stolen from them as well as their lives. Paul’s grandfather paid a dear price and never succeeded in getting the family brewery back and operational before his death.
Paul had motivation. He learned his trade through crafting beer for over twenty years, exploring his creativity through various jobs including a stint as a musician. He was more than ready to pick up the mantle and do his grandfather and his family legacy proud in the development of the Few Spirits brand.
And if the process of establishing a distillery wasn’t hard enough, Paul decided to do it in his home of Evanston, Illinois, the birthplace of Prohibition led by suffragist Frances Willard, head of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.
Paul found a way to respect both his family and the town’s rich history in his approach to business. By paying respect to the process, and allowing creativity to infuse how his team innovates on products, and accelerates the growth of the Few Spirits brand, it’s no wonder why in just a few short years, Paul has expanded Few Spirits to be one of the top producing distilleries in the U.S.
Enjoy the conversation!