FEW – Immortal Rye

FEW is a grain-to-glass craft distillery from Evanston Illinois, near Chicago (U.S.A). It’s written in all caps because the name refers to the initials of a famous woman from Evanston who had a big impact on the American whisky industry (and not in a good way). Frances Elizabeth Willard was a devoted Christian woman who made Evanston the centre of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and as such played a big role in bringing prohibition to the United States.

The fact that the distillery chose her initials for their name already tells you something about their approach to whisky. They’re not afraid of a little controverse. Another example of that is the whisky in the glass that sits before me today. A rye whiskey that’s been proofed down with 8 Immortals Oolong tea. Now, if you proof something down with anything other than water it’s technically not whisky anymore… but at the same time the choice for tea is an interesting one. As that does set it apart from sugared concotions such as honey whiskies and the like. This product is still all natural (and un-sweetened).

When I first tasted this FEW Immortal Rye, I was immediately intrigued and in a most positive way. I’m personally not one for spiced and/or flavoured whiskies. But this was something else all-together. The balance between the rye spice and the oolong tea works magnificently, and I kept going back to the bottle to try it again. If any of you are as intrigued by this as I was, I’m sure this will “proof” an excellent addition to the Explorer Pack’s fall line-up!

Tasting Notes: FEW – Immortal Rye
Stats:

ABV: 46,5% (93 proof)

Age: NAS

Distillery: FEW Spirits

Category: Rye Whiskey with Eight Immortals Tea

Cask: New American Oak

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Nose:

I’m definitely getting that tea note on the nose. But then again, if I would have tasted it blind I would have pinned this as a Rye, but I doubt I would have picked up the fact that it had been proofed down with tea. I often find a tea note in rye whisky, which is why I think it fits so well with this product. It also immediately reminded me of the fall. Of foraging for chestnuts in the forrest as a child and roasting them back home. But there’s also vegetal notes like moss and wet leaves on a forest floor. It’s a nose that makes me long to go for a long autumn stroll.

Palate:

At first sip you’d well believe that this was just a rye, but as you start to swirl it round in your mouth a slight bitter note appears that’s unmistakably from the tea infusion. It’s the exact taste of a strong Oolong tea, like the last few remnants of what was left in the pot. Yet it’s so well integrated with the rye flavours that they truly became part of the same product. It’s not a separate layer, but a well-integrated one and it works wonders with the rye spice. There’s ryebread, vanilla, molasses and tea. It’s breakfast at my grandma’s place with her homemade ryebread. What a wonderful trip down memory lane.

Finish:

The finish is long and an unusual combination of citric and slightly bitter. I’m picking up notes of ginger, dried tea leaves and lemon. Like a proper English Tea (thankfully without the cloud of milk). It’s one that I like to savour, yet it does get a bit intense and if it’s not exactly your cup of tea (pun intended) you might find the flavours to become a bit off-putting over time. A hate it or love it finish if you ask me, where I consider nose and palate more crowd pleasing.

Verdict:

I liked this FEW Immortal Rye a lot. It’s pushing the boundaries of the conventional and it’s doing so in the right way. Two classic and natural products with a heap of history of their own, combined into one intriguing dram. I know I will be going back to this one time and time again and I would not be surprised at all if some of you were to do the same!

Rating:

88/100

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