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spirits before, we haven’t seen that much happening with music and craft distilling yet. Hletko was able to take the collaborative spirit of music and find the harmonious chord, combining his musical and craft distilling passions. His enthusiasm for the project is apparent as he describes how exciting it is to come up with something new and different with a band: “We pulled the barrels aside and played the music to the barrels for a few months. Yeah, it’s a little silly, but also a little fun.” After some brainstorming, the band chose Few’s rye whiskey, and Hletko explains, “It’s our flagship—it was something they were interested in.” It was a classic pick that they were able to smallbatch and specialize to both Hletko and The Flaming Lips’ liking. Few Spirits was also able to work with Justin Helton, the artist who created many of The Flaming Lips’ album labels. Helton has also worked with other artists such as Andrew Bird, Foo Fighters, and The Avett Brothers to name just a small sampling. Few Spirits worked with Helton for much of the interaction as he is wellconnected to the band. In the end, The Flaming Lips and Hletko were able to meet at the Soho House Chicago for a memorable release party. Hletko comments, “It was really fun to see people interact with the band.” The community, it seemed, was just as excited about the partnership as Hletko.

THEY’D TAKE ME I CAN TELL… While it can be exciting to think of combining two passions and collaborating with a celebrity in some fashion, there are some things you should consider. There are many logistical challenges when taking on an endeavor such as this, not the least of which is consulting with lawyers about contracts. That said, a project like this can strengthen your brand by showing your innovation and creativity. “It’s not an easy thing to tackle, but it’s quite fun,” says Hletko. “We’re excited to share that. The more fun we have, the more fun the consumers are having.” The negotiations took about one year and were not small-scale in relation to the project. From his experience with this negotiation process and others, Hletko offers advice: “The key is to make sure everyone is on the same page so there are no hurt feelings. Be upfront and honest from the start — do good business, and it will happen. If you’re playing games, you’re going to lose.” Hletko seems to have no regrets with doing this project and says he may have a couple others in mind. Being a small-scale specialty distiller, he doesn’t feel this is something to build a business on, but it does give a person a chance to explore and be creative. So, can we get The Flaming Lips to headline ACSA's annual convention? Hletko laughs, “There’s a zero percent chance.”

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Damn it, Paul. Few Spirits is located in Evanston, IL. For more information visit www. fewspirits.com or call (847) 920-8628. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  


Profile for Artisan Spirit Magazine

Artisan Spirit: Winter 2016  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Winter 2016  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.