Vowing to make organic spirits from scratch, Sonat Birnecker Hart and her husband, Robert Birnecker, left academic careers to establish KOVAL Distillery in Chicago in 2008. Today the distillery’s products are available across the nation and in 55 export markets. As president, Birnecker Hart spearheads product development, distribution and marketing.
She recently joined Jeff Cioletti for a wide-ranging conversation, which includes her thoughts on the benefits of exporting spirits and how starting up the distillery during the subprime mortgage crisis helped KOVAL navigate the pandemic. They also go beyond KOVAL’s whiskey and gin to discuss liqueurs and brandy.