Get tickets to the September 9th release party here!
Award-winning Evanston, IL craft distillery FEW Spirits and iconic Chicago independent record label Bloodshot Records have joined forces a third time, creating the limited-edition Bloodshot Records’ White Lightning Whisky, a mighty, mighty pleasin' modern take on a lightly aged 'shine. Distilled from a mix of five different types of malted barley, the 101-proof spirit is nearly clear but has been “lightly rested” in used FEW Bourbon and FEW Rye Whiskey barrels. It’s named for the 1959 song that became country legend George Jones’ first number-one hit—and which is a calling-card cover for the Waco Brothers. Just 150 bottles of White Lightning will be available now, while a much larger batch of whisky was laid down for longer aging and a future release.
Bloodshot Records’ White Lightning Whisky will officially launch Saturday, September 9, with a release party at the FEW distillery (918 Chicago Ave., Evanston) from 1 to 5 PM. The honky tonk event features Waco Brothers and a duo of other country acts from Chicago—Sanctified Grumblers and Lawrence Peters—as well as elaborately garnished Belgian-style fries from the Bruges Brothers truck, and of course tastings and cocktails featuring the new whisky. Tickets cost $10 and are available here. (The event is 21+, but children accompanied by a parent or guardian are also welcome.)
This is actually the third collaboration between venerable local label Bloodshot and FEW, whose founder and master distiller, Paul Hletko, had a career in music before opening a distillery. In the summer of 2015, FEW created the exclusive Bloodshot's Small Batch Bourbon to honor the milestone of the label’s 21st birthday. And last fall, the companies collaborated on the limited-edition Insurgint Gin, flavored with blood orange and guajillo peppers.
The Bloodshot collaborations are also not the only musical spirits made by Hletko, a rock-n-roll obsessive who formerly played in a fairly successful local band, ran a custom guitar effects pedal company and started a (failed) record label of his own. Last year, FEW released Brainville Rye Whiskey, a collaboration with legendary band The Flaming Lips.
"When we talked about doing a white lightning, I didn't want to do just a corn whiskey or something similar; I wanted to do something funky and a bit out of the ordinary.” Hletko says. “Creating what is effectively an unaged single malt using a number of different types of malt seemed right up there. Lots of funk, very little oak character but slightly rounded wood—the perfect mesh of FEW and Bloodshot.”
Bloodshot Records’ White Lightning will be available only at the FEW Spirits distillery for a limited time. The retail price is $39.99 for a 750-mL bottle. The small release now is a prelude to a larger batch of fully aged whisky, which will be available in a few years. (“The whisky will speak, and when it’s ready, it’ll let us know,” Hletko says.)
“The beauty of working with FEW Spirits—beyond the obvious benefits of being in such close orbit to such a band of mad alchemists—is the chance to have fun cross-promoting and cross-pollinating our respective obsessions, to highlight how great a collaborative and supportive local community can be,” says Bloodshot co-founder and owner Rob Miller. "The worlds of whiskey and music overlap in so many ways. Given that we are mutual fans and just down the road from each other, it makes the partnership (and opportunities for toasting) so much the better.”
Small-batch and local. That’s how we like our music and our spirits.