By: Fork & Stave
Proof: 93 Proof (46.5% ABV), Aged “Less than four years”
While I’m not able to purchase it in my local market yet, I was able to get my hands on a sample of FEW Spirits Rye Whiskey release. Whisky Advocate’s 2013 Craft Whiskey of the Year wears a very sharp embossed paper label depicting the fountain outside the Chicago World’s Fair. Born of a small craft distillery in Evanston, IL, at the hands of Paul Hletko, FEW Rye Whiskey also received a silver medal at the World Spirits Competition. Hletko promotes the farm to bottle concept with grains procured close by in Indiana and Wisconsin. FEW Spirits Rye Whiskey is made up of 70% rye, 20% corn, and 10% malted barley and it has a pleasant amber hue inside it’s square, and very masculine, bottle. This product enters the spirit scene at an opportune time as the nation continues to see an explosion in popularity of rye. Although my reviews tend to predominantly focus on bourbon whiskey, I am a very big fan of a good rye. The spice and fruit notes are what I enjoy most about this spirit. In a cocktail or barrel aged cocktail, I think the spice and full flavor of rye whiskey tends to stand up better to the additional ingredients and any additional aging.
Tasting Notes: After letting it breathe for 10 minutes, I tasted this rye whiskey neat.
Nose: FEW Spirits Rye Whiskey opens up with baking bread, caramel apples, sweet corn, and baking spice notes. The smell of grain lingers as I pull the dram away. There are hints of dried fig, honey, and bananas.
First Sip: The whiskey enters the mouth with a burst of sweetness. I picked up cherries, apple, RC cola, mint, and the spice of the rye on the first sip. There are light notes of caramel and golden maple syrup, but they play more of a supporting role here. There is not a great deal of depth to the flavor, rather they hit the tongue almost simultaneously. Incorporating the “Kentucky Chew” can really help you experience the many flavors.
Mouth Feel: This rye is thin in the mouth and drinks with a clean finish. The light body made it difficult to pick out all of the flavors rushing the palate.
Finish: The finish is clean with a pepper spice and moderate warmth. It’s pleasant and I am reminded of other sipping whiskies that I enjoy which bring you back, sip after sip, to explore the flavors once more. Despite the ABV, the whiskey finishes smooth without a burn.
Summary: I don’t get the opportunity to try many new rye whiskies, so this was a real treat. Considering it’s unique taste profile compared to the myriad of other rye whiskies on your favorite store’s shelf, this one would be a good one to try. I think the price point may scare some buyers away and it’s because of this that I wanted to get this review issued before some of the others in my queue. FEW Spirits Rye Whiskey can be found for between $50 and $70 at online retailers. At that price, many of us have to really think about whether or not to gamble on a new player. I think the majority of my readers will find it worth the money at the lower price point. As distribution and production volumes improve, I would expect to see this whiskey settle in at a more reasonable price in the mid-forty dollar range. If you like a good Sazerac, like I do, this rye will bring out a completely different flavor profile in that cocktail.