Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by FEW Spirits. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
I haven’t had much experience with FEW products, so I was quite curious when presented with this particular rye whiskey. Taken at barrel proof and then the use of tea as an element for dilution. Innovation in the distilling business continues to evolve.
The next question of course is what is Oolong tea? For this review, I did go to the store and pick some up. First impression was of a rustic green tea, but alas, found out that it is somewhere in between a green and black tea. Oolong hails from China and, from some reading, goes through quite the varied processes.
The leaves are picked, bruised, cooled, and shaped. From there, they are allowed to oxidize for an amount of time, then roasted, and then a second shaping or rolling. In this case, the leaves are harvested from the Guangdong Province at an elevation of about 2000 feet and the producer for the collaboration is The Tea Spot in Denver, Colorado.
Few Spirits, as we chronicled about them last year, is one of the more well known craft distilleries out of Illinois, being founded in 2011 and operating out of a tucked away alley located in the growing Chicago suburb of Evanston. Founder & Master Distiller Paul Hletko is the whiskey maestro in charge there.
“One of the real joys of this job is the freedom to wonder, ‘what if?’ and then having the creative team in place to try to search for an answer,” said Hletko in a prepared statement at the time of its release. “Just as we’ve done with previous innovation favorites like Few Cold Cut Bourbon, Few Immortal Rye is an example of taking the space to think about things that have never been done before, whittling that list down to the ones that are actually worth trying, and then creating something that people will not only want to try, but add to their regular drinking rotation.”
In any case, let’s get to the goods.
Tasting Notes: FEW Immortal Rye
Vital Stats: 93 proof, 46.5% ABV. Rye whiskey at barrel proof with the addition of Eight Immortals Oolong Tea. Mash bill of 70% rye, 20% corn and 10% malted barley. ~ $45 per 750ml bottle.
Appearance: A dark honey or amber. In the glass, found some light legs and viscosity.
Nose: This one was simple. Some citrus up front and black pepper. At 93 proof, it wasn’t overwhelmingly hot, but definitely present.
Palate: As expected from the look in the glass, pretty light bodied, which was a touch of a surprise given the color. There’s a bit of spice and brown sugar. With the tea influence, there was certainly an earthiness to the finish, but faded rather quickly.
This rye whiskey was solid, though I would probably remove any expectations of the tea influence. It’s a great idea, though I’m not sure that it was the right combination. In regards to flavor profile, I could see the oolong going better with an American single malt.
For the price tag, definitely worthy of picking one up to see what those kids at FEW are up to and keep an eye out for what’s next.
User Review4 (3 votes)
Kenji is a bartender in Portland, Oregon at the Pope House Bourbon Lounge. A bourbon enthusiast for decades. He likes big whiskeys, pretty much anything over 100 proof.