Fans of spicier whiskey and grungier music should check out the recent collaboration between Few Spirits and the rock band Alice In Chains.
Released under the name All Secrets Known, this new whiskey is Few bourbon finished in ex-tequila barrels. It’s an experimental spirit from a pioneer in U.S. craft distilling, made in conjunction with one of the most influential bands from ‘90s alternative rock. For a deeper dive into background of this creative new product, we recently caught up with Few Founder and Master Distiller Paul Hletko.
Beverage Dynamics: Why team up with Alice In Chains?
Paul Hletko: It was fun for us to get more people, their fans, excited about the category, and to bring more people into the world of whiskey, people who aren’t always the types that whiskey traditionally reaches out to.
And I also believe that whiskey and music go together. Both are things you do when bringing people together. Whether you’re celebrating the good times, or commiserating the bad, music is the soundtrack to that. Whenever I get together with friends, there’s usually a beverage in my hand and music playing.
BD: The tequila finish is interesting. Can’t say there’s a lot of that in the bourbon market right now.
PH: Up here in Chicago, it’s not like we’re good at making tequila. The opportunity came up to purchase some tequila barrels, and I liked the barrels. They gave us the chance to do something that we do not typically do. And that was adding vegetal, dessert-sweet tequila flavors into our bourbon, which as a house style is relatively spicy.
BD: With limited-edition collaborations like these, we wonder whether people buy as collectible bottles, or to drink, or both.
PH: I see it as both a drink and a collectible. As a guy who makes whiskey, I want that whiskey to be consumed. I’m more than happy for people to keep an empty bottle of this around on their shelf, or to do that and fill it with brown liquid so that it looks like a full bourbon.
A lot of the social media reaction that we have seen from this is people saying that they will buy two bottles: one to drink, and one to save. And that’s great, for obvious reasons.
We hope people do buy this to share with family and friends. Though at the end of the day, we just want people to enjoy this. If that’s closed on the shelf, that’s great, but hopefully it’s opened while celebrating with friends.
BD: How did Alice In Chains get involved?
PH: We have mutual friends. And I’m a big fan of theirs, and so are a lot of people at the distillery. The opportunity came up, and it was kind of a no-brainer. We had the idea of mixing rock and roll with tequila, and it came together and worked out great.
We sent the band some samples. Once we suggested the tequila-finished bourbon, they were like, ‘Yeah, let’s do that’, haha. We went back and forth to come up with the name. They liked ‘All Secrets Known’, because liquor has a way of getting secrets known.
BD: What’s something else coming down the innovation pipeline at Few that you can talk about?
PH: We have this really cool project coming up that’s a little different. It’s called Cold Cut. We take our bourbon whiskey and we bring it to proof with our cold brew coffee instead of water. There’s no sugar added, so it’s not a liqueur.
We’re very excited about it. Upfront you get all these Few whiskey flavor components, and then the coffee really comes through in the long, nutty, chocolaty finish. This is coming out in two-to-three weeks, and we think it has a really good future. It’s not just a one-off. It’s a new permanent expression, line-priced at $45. We’re putting our full-force marketing behind it.
It will be available nationally, in 25-30 states, before Christmas. Either in mid-November or early December.
BD: We’ve been asking this of all distilleries: What’s your thought on the booming secondary market, and the social media trend of people posting collection pictures of unopened bottles?
PH: I think the secondary market is a delicate topic, since it’s not exactly legal. And I’ve seen that a decent number of unopened bottle pics are really just an inventory list more than anything else. The picture may not say ‘For sale’, but many are. For that reason, some of the online whiskey groups I’m in have a rule against posting pictures of unopened bottles.
I’m all for the secondary market — and certainly some of our bottles are on there — because anything that drives up demand for whiskey is for the better. Though it is a delicate topic due to legalities. From our standpoint, overall, we presently don’t have a horse in the race.
BD: Our favorite Alice In Chains song is “I Stay Away.” Which of their songs does it for you?
Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kswartzz. Read his recent piece Interview: Maker’s Mark’s Jane Bowie on Innovating Bourbon.