GSN Review: FEW Immortal Rye Whiskey

Evanston, IL distiller FEW Spirits recently announced the release of FEW Immortal Rye, cask-strength FEW Straight Rye Whiskey proofed to bottling strength with cold-extracted “8 Immortals” tea from Denver-based tea purveyor, The Tea Spot. Immortal Rye is thought to be the first product to apply this proofing technique using tea. An initial 6,000 750ml bottles of FEW Immortal Rye will be made available nationwide. Each bottle features dragon label art inspired by priceless artwork showcased at the 1893 World’s Fair, which was held just a short journey down the Lake Michigan waterfront from where FEW Spirits headquarters stands today.

“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,” says Paul Hletko FEW Spirits Founder and Distiller. He further notes, “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.” 

FEW Immortal Rye contains only the highly-awarded FEW Straight Rye Whiskey and 8 Immortals tea; no sugar or additional additives are added. The tea is a hand-harvested Dancong oolong produced in small batches by an award-winning, family-run operation which specializes in making high-end Dancong oolongs. These teas are unique to the mountainous and humid southeastern corner of Guangdong Province, China. Grown at an altitude of 2000 feet, 8 Immortals has its own unique tea cultivar. After harvesting the leaves, it goes through a carefully monitored process of sun drying and repeated oxidizing, rolling and fluffing. This meticulous crafting yields a tea of abundant natural fragrance which can fill a room. It has complex floral and sweet woody notes, smooth mouthfeel, and a persistent, enchanting aftertaste.

Maria Uspenski, Founder and CEO of The Tea Spot, says, “As a long-time tea industry professional and enthusiast of craft spirits, I’m thrilled how FEW Immortal Rye combines the best of both worlds. The honeysuckle aroma of our award-winning 8 Immortals Dancong oolong melds with the malty vanilla notes of the rye whiskey base, while the woody earthy character of this unique tea lingers and resonates long past your first sip, in the best of ways. We’re thrilled to be part of this collaboration with FEW Spirits and think that beverage nerds from both camps will appreciate the synergy in this whiskey made with this legendary oolong.”

Note: The 8 Immortals are a group of xian (translated in English to ‘immortals”) in Chinese mythology, most of which are said to have been born in the Tang or Shang Dynasty. They are said to live on a group of five islands in the Bohai Sea, which includes Mount Penglai. These historical figures represent the Taoist interest in achieving immortality. The Immortals are associated with health and prosperity, so their images are often seen at special occasions like weddings and birthdays. 

FEW Immortal Rye Whiskey (93 proof)
Appearance: Dark reddish-brown.
Aroma: Nice, heady aroma of tea intertwined with spicy rye. The nose seems quite balanced between the two.
Taste: Upon entry, the tea is more forward, but this quickly shifts to a powerful rye presence, percolating with pops of peppery heat. The tea opens up the whiskey in a novel way, with the two flavors working in tandem to create an entirely new flavor combination.
Finish: Medium-long, with the oolong still making its mark on the overall flavor.
Overall: In some ways, this is like a cocktail. If you add some simple syrup, you’re good to go. We really enjoy this and would love to see more tea/spirit products come to market.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: FEW Spirits