Distill Your Own Whiskey With FEW Spirits
By Anthony Todd in Food on May 30, 2012 6:00PM
For a true whiskey nerd, this is the most impressive status symbols out there: your own whiskey, barreled with your own hands and with your own name on each bottle. FEW Spirits in Evanston is ready to make that dream come true, if you have a few thousand dollars lying around. Failing that, you can take their distillery tour, sample their spirits and buy used barrels.
FEW has been working on a named single-barrel whiskey program for quite a while, focusing primarily on restaurant clients. A chef or owner can come in, visit the distillery, meet the staff and participate in all the steps in the distillation process. Afterwards, the bourbon or rye goes into a labelled 5-gallon barrel for aging. When it's done, it's bottled and the entire batch is sold. Master Distiller Paul Hletko told us that several restaurants have tried the program, including Sable, Frasca and MK. The special City Provisions bourbon sold out in just three days, and we're willing to bet that the whiskey at Provenance (which we just found out was coming this past weekend) will sell just as fast. If someone buys a whole batch, FEW will throw in the barrel for free.
"We're open to an individual consumer trying this. We're all about community and making this a really special place," said Hletko. The whiskey will age anywhere from 6-15 months ("It's ready when it's ready," Hletko explained) and a barrel will produce between 27 and 34 bottles, which comes to about $2000. Because of licensing and distribution rules, you can't just take the full barrel home - the product has to be labelled and bottled.
Let's say you don't have a spare $2000 but still want to be part of the process? First, you should take the FEW Spirits distillery tour. Tours are available every Saturday at 2 and 3 p.m., they cost $10 and include a tasting of FEW spirits. What a great Father's Day present! Plus, the weekend of June 17, FEW will be doing special Sunday tours.
Have a bit more cash? For $150, you can get a used 5-gallon whiskey barrel. We want one to put on our coffee table, but they are primarily meant for home brewers. If you want to give your homemade stuff that extra kick, try aging it in a used FEW rye barrel. Barrels are one of the few things in life that are better used than new, and the stock is limited. Barrels, along with FEW swag, can be purchased at the tasting room.
Look for some new FEW products to start rolling out later this year, including another batch of barrel-aged gin. To stay on top of all the boozy news, sign up for their newsletter and "like" them on Facebook.
FEW Spirits is located at 918 Chicago Avenue in Evanston.