About FEW Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Hidden down a dark alley in a former chop shop, skilled men are quietly violating one of Evanston's founding principles: Prohibition. In the 19th century, Frances Elizabeth Willard was elected President of the Chicago Woman's Christian Temperance Union and embarked on a decade-long crusade to prohibit alcohol in the United States. Willard worked tirelessly; as President of the WCTU, she traveled roughly 30,000 miles and gave an average of 400 lectures each year for an entire decade.
As a result, Evanston remained a dry town for over 100 years. It wasn't until Paul Hletko, owner and master distiller at FEW Spirits, began lobbying the town that the antiquated laws were lifted. "I'm the vice president of the PTA at my kids' school and I coach their soccer and T-ball teams," Hletko says. "People around town know me and what I'm about, which is handy when you're looking to change 100 years of laws."
Today, Hletko and his team of master distillers produce FEW Bourbon Whiskey in the heart of Evanston, Illinois.
FEW Straight Bourbon Whiskey is made from a mash of 70% corn, 20% barley and 10% rye. "The corn comes from a farmers co-op in Indiana and my barley and rye from farmers in Wisconsin," notes Hletko. After mashing and fermenting the grains, Hletko distills the wash through his 1,500-liter Kothe copper-pot still.
After distillation, the bourbon is aged in custom-made oak barrels from Minnesota. "The cooper I eventually chose to make our barrels won 24 out of 25 categories at a spirits competition I visited," Hletko says. "I'm no math major, but that's the cooper I want to make our barrels." The #3 char on the barrels contributes slightly sweet hints of honey and vanilla to FEW Bourbon, which are nicely balanced by a spicy finish that intensifies as it lingers. After aging the bourbon, Hletko and his team of distillers fill and label each bottle by hand.
FEW Straight Bourbon Whiskey earned a Gold Medal from the Beverage Testing Institute and a Silver Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2012.
As one of the leading figures of the Temperance movement, it's unlikely that Frances Elizabeth Willard would approve of Hletko's success or the name he chose for his distillery, which is sometimes written as F.E.W. Spirits.
"People say she's rolling over in her grave,” Hletko says with a coy smile. "I wouldn't know about that — the name is just a coincidence."
Pick up a bottle today!
There are not many things more American than bourbon, and although most of it is produced in Kentucky, it can be produced all over the USA.
It must be made with at least 51% corn and bottled at 40% ABV or higher. So why not give this American classic a try?
Check out our impressive selection of bourbons, find your new favorite in Top 10 bourbons, or explore our treasury of rare & hard to find bourbons.