About FEW + Flaming Lips Brainville Rye 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 Rye Whiskey and FEW Bourbon Whiskey in the heart of Evanston, Illinois.
Like FEW’s award winning rye, this release is made from a mash that uses corn, rye, and malted barley grown within 150 miles of the distillery. "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 using French wine yeast, Hletko distills the wash through his 1,500-liter Kothe copper-pot still.
After distillation, the rye 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 gives FEW Rye hints of allspice and peppercorn, which are followed by notes of dark caramel and cinnamon. In addition, the casks contribute slightly sweet hints of honey and vanilla, which are nicely balanced by a spicy finish that intensifies as it lingers.
After aging the rye, Hletko and his team of distillers fill each bottle by hand, affixed with an artistic label inspired by the psychedelic rock group, the Flaming Lips. Music industry designer Justin Helton approached the folks at FEW about the partnership. A long-time Flaming Lips fan who has also done graphic design work for Ween, Phish, and the Black Keys among others, Helton wanted to create a special product dedicated to one of his favorite bands.
Upon release, Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne remarked: “Whiskey … it’s such a volatile drink. Upon pouring a drink it’s like accepting that you may become a werewolf … And really ... Who doesn't want to become a werewolf ??? Ha.” Here’s hoping this rye doesn’t actually turn you into a werewolf, that might be fun for you but it would be decidedly terrifying for everyone else. Perhaps it will inspire in you some level of transcendence nonetheless.
This is a limited release of 5,000 bottles. Get yours today!
As American as the bald eagle, rye whiskey was first brewed in the American Northeast in the 1600s. Even George Washington distilled it after leaving the Oval Office, so there’s no way of denying its origin.
It’s distinguished from bourbon for its original and unique spicy notes.
By law, rye whiskey must be made from at least 51% rye grain, aged in new and charred oak barrels for at least two years, and bottled at no more than 62,5% ABV.
Check out our impressive selection of rye whiskeys, find your new favorites in The best-reviewed rye whiskeys, and explore our treasury of Best rye bottles under $100.