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Craft Distiller Few Spirits Eyes New Horizons For American Whiskey

November 16, 2018

Evanston, Illinois-based Few Spirits is among the better-known craft distillers in the United States, and it continues to grow at a rapid rate, with volume rising from 2,000 cases in 2014 to 15,000 cases last year. Few’s Rye earned Craft Whiskey of the Year honors from Whisky Advocate in 2013. In 2016, the brand joined the portfolio of Miami-based Samson & Surrey, with an eye toward boosting growth. Now, Few is launching a new American whiskey to its year-round lineup, marking the first permanent extension to the portfolio in several years.

A blend of cherrywood-smoked single malt with Bourbon and rye, Few American Whiskey is bottled at 93 proof and retails at $50 a 750-ml. Though it qualifies as a single malt under U.S. guidelines, Few owner and distiller Paul Hletko chose to forgo labeling it as such in favor of a broader focus on the American whiskey category. “We’re trying to expand what people see as American whiskey with this product,” he says. “It’s not just Bourbon, and it’s not just rye. We’re adding to the conversation of what American whiskey can be and going beyond category designations.”

Hletko sees strong potential for the new entry. “Over the next couple years, we think this whiskey is going to grow quickly, up to around 10,000 cases,” Hletko says. “In the relatively near future, this will likely be our No.-3 seller.” Few’s American Whiskey is currently limited to the New York and Chicago markets, but is slated to expand its production over the next few years and broaden distribution.

Meanwhile, Few’s core Bourbon, rye, and single malt whiskies continue to gain steam, with the No.-1 selling Bourbon growing aggressively and the rye readily available once again following a supply shortage a couple of years ago. Outside of whiskey, the Few gin lineup—which consists of American Gin, Barrel Gin, and Breakfast Gin—is also performing well, Hletko says.–Julia Higgins

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