The (Tall) Tale of Whiskey

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” – Seth Godin


It’s a “tale as old as time. Song as old as rhyme.” No, it’s not Beauty and the Beast. It’s more or less the origin story of this whiskey and that whiskey…or so we’ve been told.

The reality is we all live as story. Story defines us as humans. Story inspires us. It’s why so many of us are drawn to religion. It’s why we gather together in dark rooms and stare at large screens for hours on end, gazing at moving pictures. It’s why we hunker down on our couches and flip through the hundreds of pages of our favorite books. Story is woven into the fabric of human life. We are story.

This is precisely why distilleries use story, real or not, to peddle their products. True or not, these tales of lore, accidents, mishaps, and fortune draw us in. They make some of us grab their shiny bottles off the shelves faster than light leaving the rest of us in want. They cause others of us to question and therefore leave these self-proclaimed “shelf turds” for the next “naive” victim. Still, others of us buy a pour or even a bottle just to explore if the juice is worth the story and with mixed results publish our findings only to inspire, disuade, and irritate the masses in wait. Whatever your personal mantra, as a collective people, we crave story as much if not more than the liquid within the chalice.

Becuase of this, at the end of the day, the distilleries win. They win because story wins.  And therefore, I believe we win…well as long as the juice is worth the price of admission to the tale being woven. At least, that’s my story.

Cheers to the tipple and to the text! Keep living and drinking your story.

“The greatest art in the world is the art of storytelling.” – Cecil B. DeMille

F.E.W. Rye Whiskey – Review


Along with most whiskey drinkers I have an adverse reaction to anyone who is offended by the fact that I like to drink. Now, I must say, I don’t like to drink just to drink. Those days were short-lived. As an old-soul type of guy I like drinking in my recliner with a good book/movie, my cat, Ziggy, on my lap, and the fireplace crackling. I sip slow, savor the flavors, and enjoy the evening or afternoon or whatever time of day it might be (it’s 5 o’clock somewhere as they say). But, still it rubs me the wrong way when someone is taken-a-back by my love for a good Scotch or hearty bourbon. I don’t care if they drink or not. I’m fine with people not drinking. My parents don’t drink because of the circles they run in. I have friends who don’t drink because they have either struggled with alcoholism or know someone who has suffered from it. I’m good with their decisions. In fact, I applaud them. But, that shouldn’t (and wont) stop me from enjoying a few fingers of a spicy rye.

There once was a giant movement of people like this who felt it was okay to tell other people they shouldn’t drink. It started in the 19th Century and was called the Temperance Movement. At the forefront of the march towards the abolition of alcohol was the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. While they fought for a lot of things they considered ‘biblical’ the push for illegality of all spirits was top on their list. The head of the snake was none other than homely (if you think that’s harsh click the link) and brash, Frances Willard. She rose quickly to power becoming the president of the WCTU in just 5 years of service to the cause. She was so passionate about the goal she formed her own organization, World’s Women Christian Temperance Union, in 1883. It must be mentioned, Willard did fight for some noble causes (she also focused on prison reform and woman’s suffrage during her 19 year presidency), the push for and eventual passage of the 18th Amendment just wasn’t one of them. As we know, Prohibition was a great failure (Thank God!) and the streets once again run amber with the sweet fragrance of spirits aged in oak.

In honor of Willard and her eventual failure, a distillery out of Evanston, Illinois has adopted her name. This distillery is F.E.W. (Willard’s Initials) Spirits. From Bourbon to Rye to Gin, the people at F.E.W. are cranking out some tasty spirits. It’s all their own juice to boot! Today, we are going to take a deeper look at F.E.W. Rye Whiskey. Let’s jump in already!


Distiller: F.E.W. Spirits

Owner: F.E.W. Spirits

Age: NAS (Rumored Around 3 Years Old)

ABV: 46.5%

Mash Bill: 70/20/10 (Rye/Corn/Barley)

Price: $60


Rich amber with orange and caramel hues. Promising.


Right away I’m greeted with a note of pleasant, grassy, rye grain. This is followed quickly by hints of caramel, vanilla, and oak. Sitting underneath it all there is a really nice brown sugar sweetness. The high corn content is surely responsible for these sweater characteristics.


The taste follows the nose. Soft rye spice is paired with chewy caramels and vanilla extract. Then there is honey-drizzled apples rolled in cinnamon. The texture is smooth and velvety and rolled around nicely on my tongue.


Long. Rye Spice. Pepper. Spice-infused cream drizzled over ripe apples. Slowly fades away.


In my honest opinion, the value on this is pretty good when you compare it to other craft whiskeys. Is it great? No. The bottom-line for pricing on craft whiskeys is usually around $50. With this one clocking in just $10 more and having a developed and matured profile I consider this a buy all day.


I really like this whiskey. It is probably my favorite craft whiskey. It’s mature for its age and it’s priced well. It has a balanced and creamy palate. I don’t have any real knocks on this one except I’d love to have it at cask strength (if I can ever find one). Cheers!


92/100 (An Excellent Tipple)


High West Campfire – Review

High West 2

The smell of peat can be overwhelming. It can also dominate the taste profile of a dram. With that being said, it dominated David Perkins’ senses one morning while he was visiting the Bruichladdich distillery. The smell was coming from the kitchen of the Bruichladdich B&B where peated whiskey and sugar were simmering in a pot on the stove. That evening David and his wife sunk their teeth into savory honeydew melon which had been drizzled with a creamy and decadent peated syrup. In that moment the idea behind Campfire was born.

In a bottle of Campfire we are presented with a carefully crafted blend of bourbon, rye, and peated, blended Scotch whiskies. With much experimentation, David and his crew have crafted a well-balanced, rich, complex, and overall pleasant tipple. Now that you have the back story let’s crack open this bottle and see what’s inside.


Distiller: High West Distillery

Owner: High West Distillery

Age: NAS (All whiskies in the blend are 5+ years old)

ABV: 46%

Mash Bill: Bourbon [MGP: 75/21/4 (Corn/Rye/Barley)]

Rye [MGP: 95/5 (Rye/Barley)]

Scotch [Peated Blended Scotch (Undisclosed, Non-Islay Distillery): 100%                             Malted Barley]

Proportions of the blend are undisclosed

Batch: #14H11B

Price: $50


Rich and creamy amber.


The first thing I get are caramel and vanilla which is the bourbon making itself known. This is followed quickly by the peated, blended Scotch with notes of smoked meats and plenty of malt. Finally, the rye joins the mix with hints of herbs and brine. As all the notes meld it becomes sweet, smoky, and a bit funky, in a good way, from the brine. Quite intriguing and begs to be tasted.


The palate is an amalgam of wonderful whiskey flavors. Each note enters, leaves, and re-enters. I get caramel, peat, smoke, dill, vanilla, toffee, cinnamon, and cherry-heavy dark fruits. It is quite delicious and fun to pick apart.


Medium-long. Dominated by peat, caramel, vanilla, and malt. I was left with a smooth and pleasant warmth in my throat and chest.


I have nothing to complain about in this category. At around $50 for a bottle it is a great buy. Any complex and tasty tipple in the $50 range is worth it in this day and age. I consider this a recommended buy. Although, it is quite unique so it is advised to try a pour before you commit to a bottle. The taste profile might not be for everyone. But, if you like interesting and complex whiskies I’m betting you will like this one.


I really like this whiskey. It is the only blended of bourbon, rye, and Scotch that I know of on sale right now. Plus, it is quite complex, tasty, really well-balanced and well-priced. I will be sure to savor my bottle and will likely backfill it. I cannot wait for High West to start releasing their own aged spirits. If they distill even remotely as good as they blend we are in for a treat or two in the near future. Cheers!


91.5/100 (An Excellent Tipple)

High West 1