Master Distiller

The MurLarkey Experience: How a Master Chef Became the Master Distiller at One of America’s Fastest-Growing Craft Distilleries

What happens when a retired Master Chef suddenly finds himself in a position to expand the horizon of his latest passion, distilled spirits? Magic!

That’s exactly what happened to George Zwetkow, former Master Chef and now the Master Distiller of MurLarkey Distilled Spirits, one of the fastest-growing craft distilleries in the country.

Six years ago, Zwetkow’s son-in-law Mike Larkin and Mike’s cousin Tom Murray were getting serious about starting a new and “different” distillery.

“Tom and I and my brother Jim had talked about starting a family business on and off for years,” said Larkin, who served as MurLarkey’s President until turning operations over to his brother Jim in 2016. “When I approached Tom with the notion of a distillery he liked it as much as I did, and so it began.”

“Tom ran with the business administration, and I ran with the product development with Papi. Jim joined us shortly after to run operations, and [Head Distiller] Kevin Szady came on about a year into operations.”

What started as a side project evolved into an internationally acclaimed craft distillery renowned for its unique spectrum of award-winning spirits and unparalleled brand culture. In short, a movement had begun.

“We knew that we wanted to produce something special,” said Murray, now MurLarkey’s CEO. “We wanted to create a product line and an experiential vibe that captures and shares the renowned hospitality and good times our Irish heritage is famous for: that sense of joy, belonging and family, complemented by spirits that bring you back to that happy place with each sip.”

“While it’s always an honor to win a medal on the big stage, it is paramount to us that our spirits also continually echo the experience, the culture of MurLarkey in every bottle,” said Jim Larkin, MurLarkey’s COO.

Zwetkow, or “Papi” as he’s known around the distillery, personifies this MurLarkey culture. He’s devoted his life to hospitality and achieving culinary excellence. His mantra is simple: “There are no shortcuts to greatness.”

Zwetkow was trained at the world-famous Culinary Institute of America in world cuisines and techniques. After graduation in 1971, he got his start by opening the Contemporary Hotel at Disney World…


Read the full Yahoo! Style article here.