It's been a while since I embarked on this project, known as the Five Questions, and I beg your time to read the questions and drink the highly personal answers from each craft distiller whom I see worthy of your attention.
Without further adieu, may I present Paul Hietko.
1. WB: What do Craft Spirits mean to you?
PH: To me, "craft spirits" means passion for product over all else and actually made by the folks claiming to make it. Authenticity and honesty is the key.
2. WB: Where are you from? What did you do before you became a distiller?
PH: I was born in the Chicago area, grew up in Michigan, spent time in Northern California, and have lived in Chicago now for over 20 years. Prior to becoming a distiller, I pursued several creative passions, and played guitar professionally, as well as running a record label, building custom guitar effects pedals, and more. I also had a desk job for many years, but always strived to pursue dreams.
3. WB: What is your favorite food? Which of your spirits go well with that dish?
PH: My favorite food depends on my mood. I'm currently a bit obsessed with banh mi, as well as working on some homemade curries. I'm really digging the bourbon with the banh mi, as the spiciness of the bourbon plays well with the spices in the sandwich.
4. WB: Is there anything you’ve eaten or sipped that brings a tear to your eye when you taste it? Why?
PH: Some of the favorite things I sip are products that my friends make, as I know what it takes to bring it to life. Food and drink can have such a dramatic affect, and eating various foods can really bring me back to various places. I can't eat matzo ball soup without missing my grandmother. I can't think of Spätzle without missing my grandmother's!
5. WB: Social Media brought us together originally. What are your thoughts on Social Media? Do you use it? Do you have time to Tweet?
PH: I love social media - it's the best way to communicate with the people that actually consume what we make. All that we do, we do for the spirit that is in the glass so that we can hopefully be a part of peoples enjoyment of life with their family and friends. That means a lot to us, and this connection with our fans is truly amazing.
My tasting Notes for these gorgeous spirits...
FEW Bourbon Whiskey
Spanish Leather, sweet cream and wet stones give way to a bit of heat and that long finish that says CRAFT. This is very drinkable stuff, worthy of your finest glassware
FEW Rye Whiskey
If I could drink a corned beef sandwich, this is what I'd be enjoying for lunch! Smoky notes of charred earth, tangy and cinnamon tinged rye bread with a zingy finish that goes on and on!
FEW Single Malt Whiskey
Is this whiskey from Scotland? Nope, it's all American! Licks of wood smoke give way to sweet grains and a haunting finish punctuated by toasted citrus zest and salt crusted stones. This is sophisticated and worldly. Class act!
FEW Barrel Gin
Sweet notes of long cooked grains enrobed in dark (70% or more) bittersweet chocolate, cooked slowly with the aromatics of Juniper Berries and slowly cooked stone fruits, like quince and peaches. A Ramos Gin Fizz with this slurp would take you to places not yet discovered!
My second book, Whiskey Cocktails is available ever so shortly on Quarto Publishing. In the book, I've created 75 new and re-imaged cocktails for one of the world's favorite spirits, Whiskey... With my unique- Cocktail Whisperer style and grace.