F E W
Frances Elizabeth Willard.. Have you heard of her ? probably not.. Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard was born September 28, 1839 and was an American educator, temperance reformer, and women’s suffragist. Frances Willard became the national president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in 1879 and remained president until her death in 1898. Frances Willard developed the slogan “Do Everything” for the WCTU, encouraging members to engage in a broad array of social reforms through lobbying, petitioning, preaching, publishing, and education. During her lifetime, Willard succeeded in raising the age of consent in many states, as well as passing labour reforms including the eight-hour work day. Her vision also encompassed prison reform, scientific temperance instruction, Christian socialism, and the global expansion of women’s rights.
Evanston is the home of F.E.W Spirits and also the home prohibition, Frances Willard was of course a staunch supporter and advocate of prohibition and the fact Paul Hletko named his distillery in part after her is somewhat amusing to say the least..
FEW is also a hint to the fact the liquid is not mass produced, there is not a lot of it made, hence the fact there is only a few products and it is in short supply..
Evanston is located in the partially dry state of Illinois, with no real spirit shops and sales limited to being sold with meals in Restaurants, the FEW distillery and a small Brewery. Its hard to believe that in this day and age of a so called freedom of living age that there are still States that restrict sales of alcohol and limit what you can buy.. It is very hard to comprehend when most of us don’t have to even think about restrictions of the kind, although I do like to have a moan at travel retail only releases but in comparison it now seems a little petty..
Being the very first distilling operation of grains into spirit in Evanston since prohibition ended in 1933 the distillery created history and opened up a final chapter to this dry state. But the fact that Alcohol was unavailable for so many years is a strange and daunting thought, prohibition officially started in January 1919 it was not until January 1920 that prohibition was in full effect.
We have all seen the films and documentaries about this period in history but just imagine living in those times, Legally making alcohol, selling alcohol and even transporting it was illegal, this paved the way to the bootleggers ( The word apparently came into general use in the Midwest in the 1880s to denote the practice of concealing flasks of illicit spirits in boot tops when going to trade with Native Americans. The term entered into the wider American vocabulary when the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution effected the national prohibition of alcohol from 1920 until its repeal in 1933. ) and the distilling of Moonshine. Whisky could only be sold by prescription but this also created its own problems with illegally obtained and forged prescriptions. The making of illegal spirit fell right into the hands of organised crime and the likes of Al Capone who became the most famous of the crime lords of this period and was believed to have a wealth of around $100 million in 1927, mostly earned through the sales and association of organised sales and distribution surrounding illegal spirits.
Bourbon – F E W Spirits
Region.. Evanston, Illinois, USA
Casks.. American virgin Oak ( Minnesota oak )
Mash – 70% corn, 20% rye and 10% two-row malt
Cost.. £51.60 at Master of Malt
The new make comes of the stills at 67.5% Abv and is filled into barrels it at 57.5% Abv.
Nose.. Deliciously sweet with caramel, toffee and vanilla arriving instantly before a butterkist popcorn aroma melts into corn on the cob freshly covered in butter and just screaming to be quaffed.. Gentle Rye spices rise on the back of chocolate, maple syrup on waffles and freshly baked cinnamon buns.
Palate.. The spices explode as soon as they come in contact, its very Rye dominant but so very delicious. Vanilla and toffee popcorn bring the sweetness along with cloves and a little ginger biscuit note that delivers a little heat.
Finish.. A little spicy heat with plenty of sweeter notes.
Thoughts.. Having not really liked Bourbons in the past its hard to understand why, today I really enjoy the aromas and flavours associated with America’s national drink. Maybe it is the fact it gives me a better understanding about the maturation of whisky and maybe its just the natural progression of my palate..
Whatever the reason for my new found appreciation of Bourbon, its safe to say it will only grow, and as my journey into this spirit evolves I am sure FEW will be a liquid I continue to reach for.