[Editor’s Note: I’ve been working on a few things this week, so instead of a normal My Thoughts On, I’m gonna rerun something I did a few years ago…enjoy!-DGF]
By David G. Firestone
Growing up in Evanston Illinois, I spent most of my life in this area. I’ve had the chance to take opportunities outside of the Chicago-area, but this is home. I LOVE Evanston! I love everything about Evanston, especially the food. Heaven for me is a Mutt Special from Hecky’s,Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beef from Mustard’s Last Stand, and Chicago-style pizza from Carmen’s.Evanston has been a home for me, and it has been a home for the temperance movement. Francis Willard and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union have been headquartered in Evanston for many years, and up until 1984, Evanston was dry, something amazing for a college town. So it surprised me to learn that recently, a distillery opened in Evanston.FEW Spirits was founded in 2011 at 918 Chicago Avenue, in what was, according to the owner, a chop-house. They are a craft distillery, that actually distillers their own spirits. This sets them apart from many craft distillers, who buy alcohol from industrial alcohol producers, and add their own ingredients. Everything that FEW makes is made in a series of steps in their small building. I had the opportunity to take a tour of their facility, and it was enlightening and fun. First, we went into the production facility, and saw the stills and equipment used to distill their line of spirits. While they produce only produce whiskey and gin, they various ways that they can adjust their ingredients and production methods can produce a number of variations. I wish I had a way of transmitting the scent of the production facility over the internet, because it was a unique and amazing scent that I will never forget.
Also there was a small bottling facility,and some barrel storage. There is a second facility, again in Evanston, where long-term barrel storage is held. The facility is not large, but it does have a lot of character. This character is reflected in the tasting area, where we headed next. During the tasting, we tasted a number of gin variations, including American Gin-a white 93 proof gin, Barrel-Aged Gin which has a brownish color, and Standard Issue Gin-which has 114 proof, and is similar to the type issued to the British Navy. The whiskey variations we tried were White Whiskey-which is bottled before it is put in a barrel and maintains a clear appearance, and Bourbon and Rye Whiskeys. Each of these variations was very good, and the small glasses used for the tastings look really good. One thing you will notice about FEW is that it has a vintage character to the spirits they brew. This is evident in their shop, and their labels. The labels pay homage to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and the shop is lined with vintage items with the FEW logo on it. This is an extension of the FEW character. Tours take place on Saturdays at 2 and 3 PM. Sign up at fewspirits.com, it only costs $10 and is an interesting, enlightening and fun way to spend your Saturday.