We had the good fortune of connecting with Zachary Hiller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Zachary, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
The lack of transparency in the industry. As a consumer, I assumed that each label made its own spirits. However, as we developed the business plan, we learned that most distilleries source their spirits while starting up and many continue the practice even after they are established. In hindsight this makes sense. How else could someone release a 4 year old whiskey if they have only been open for a few months? We, like many before us, are sourcing most of our spirits while we get up and running, but we are committed to being transparent about where we got them and how we have blended, finished, or otherwise manipulated the spirits to make them unique to us.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Apart from starting this distillery, I am also an intellectual property attorney. I specialize in patents, trademarks, and copyrights for small businesses and start ups and have been a solo practicing attorney since 2010. Having helped so many people start their own companies has helped the distillery get a leg up on making sure that our branding and innovations are properly protected. Plus, you have no idea how many contracts and regulations we had to navigate just to get our permits. It definitely helps keep start up costs down when there is a lawyer on staff.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A whole week in Houston… Its not enough time… In no particular order we’d eat at Truth, Blood Bros, or Pinkertons for BBQ, at least one place in Chinatown for some spicy Sichuan food, Tex-Mex would be a game time decision: Pappasitos for fajitas, Tony’s for enchaladas, Chuy’s for that happy hour nacho bar (I hope that did not disappear during COVID). Now that we hit the 3 major food groups: we’d try to fit in BBs, Squable, and Postino to name a few. This would have been a lot easier if you limited me to a weekend. 21 meals in a week, but I think you get where my stomach, I mean head is at here.
To hang out, we’d definitely hit up Poison Girl and Two Headed Dog. Would likely also spend sometime at 8th Wonder and St Arnolds. We are also likely to spend at least an afternoon wandering up and down Wakefield to visit all the awesome spots here. We have two breweries, a winery, a coffee shop, and a volleyball bar on our block.
Depending on what season it is we would go catch an Astros or Rockets game or a rugby match. The zoo is one of my favorite places to be in Houston. I love the baby elephants and South American otters and can not wait for the penguins to get here next year. If its summer, we would for sure hit up the beach in Galveston and probably stop at Lonestar Flight Museum on the way home.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are too many to name here. Not only have the other distilleries in town helped guide us through the water, but we have had incredible support from local whiskey groups and most importantly our neighborhood. Starting a business during a pandemic was no easy feat. We could not have done it with out the support of our community.
That being said, I know I did not really answer that question. So, the two people that we absolutely could not have done this without are Lindsay Rae from Two Headed Dog and Bryan Wayne from Poison Girl. Their experience with cocktails and spirits has enabled us to create a product that we can truly be proud of.