In 2008, Sonat Birnecker Hart gave up a career teaching and lecturing in the U.S. and Germany for a different quality of life. She and her husband, Master Distiller Robert Birnecker, founded one of the first urban craft distilleries in the U.S. At KOVAL Distillery, she has spearheaded much of the product development, distribution, and marketing. “I feel that this business has given me quite an education on the process of changing Illinois laws and the Chicago industrial real estate market; both of which are challenging in their own ways but certainly worth the effort,” said Birnecker Hart. She is also the co-founder of Kothe Distilling Technologies, a distillery start-up consulting firm, and serves as a representative for many distillery equipment companies, including Germany’s leading pot still manufacturer, Kothe Destillationstechnik. Keep your eyes peeled for new products and collaborations in the year ahead.