FEW Rye Whiskey

FEW rye whiskey review bourbon scout

FEW Spirits Distillery is a true craft distillery located down an inconspicuous alley in Evanston, IL.  FEW Founder and master distiller Paul Hletko (another "recovering attorney") chose to name his operation in an ironic, yet respectful nod to Francis Elizabeth Willard (1839-1898), who ran the national Women's Christian Temperance Union from her home in Evanston for almost 20 years.  The seeds of Prohibition were sown right down the road from where Hletko makes grain liquor in Willard's name!  FEW also reflects the distillery's status as a small, "grain to glass" operation- they really only make a few...

Ms. Willard, who would probably not appreciate the irony, was instrumental in setting the conditions for the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment.  She was also the founder of the Evanston College for Ladies, which later merged with Northwestern University.  Ms. Willard made certain that Northwestern's original charter contained the following language:

"No spiritous, vinous, or fermented liquors shall be sold under license, or otherwise, within four miles of the location of said University, except for medicinal, mechanical, or sacramental purposes, under a penalty of twenty-five dollars for each offense."

Thanks to F.E.W., her efforts in the passage of Prohibition, and the charter she helped develop for Northwestern, Evanston remained "dry" for 117 years.  Finally, in 1972, Evanston's City Council voted to allow restaurants and hotels to serve liquor on site.  In 1984, the Council voted to permit liquor stores.  In the wake of those new ordinances, FEW Distillery became the first distiller of grain spirits within Evanston's city limits.

Currently, they produce two bourbons, a rye, and two gins.  Their bourbon recipe is 70% corn, 20% rye, and 10% malted barley.  The rye whiskey flips the mash bill- 70% rye, 20% corn, 10% malted barley.  The rye is less than 4 years old but complex despite its youth.  While FEW is a small distillery down an alley in the home of Midwestern Methodist morals, it is growing and growing thanks to high quality products like this rye.  

FEW Rye Whiskey

FEW Spirits Distillery
93 proof
$55 at Whole Foods in Chicago, IL

Color: Rich caramel, with a touch of orange.

Nose: Pine tar and oiled leather- both smells reminiscent of baseball glory days.  Some raw grain/cereal and new lumber round out a complex and absolutely delicious nose.

Tasting notes:  The sip begins with sweetness- maple, caramel, vanilla.  It develops as raw rye grain kicks up some heat.  Spicier notes carry through to the finish with citrusy/lemon zest dryness.  The body is a bit thin.

Overall: B+.  I am really impressed with FEW rye.  The nose and flavors are delicious.  Overall this a great rye with a great story.  'Nuff said.