The Smashing Pumpkins Just Released a Bourbon Cut With Black Tea

Today is the greatest day… if you’re a fan of celebrity-backed spirits, specifically of the 1990s alternative rock variety. The news just arrived that FEW Spirits, a craft distillery based in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, IL, has collaborated with The Smashing Pumpkins on a new bourbon. It’s called, appropriately, FEW Smashing Pumpkins Bourbon, and in an unusual twist it’s cut to proof with black tea instead of water.

This is actually not the first time that FEW, which was acquired by Kentucky distillery Heaven Hill a couple of years ago, has used a breakfast beverage to cut a whiskey to proof. Immortal Rye, a rye whiskey infused with oolong tea, came out in 2020, and Cold Cut Bourbon got a caffeine jolt by incorporating cold brew coffee into the blend. It’s also not the first time that FEW has partnered with a 1990s alternative rock band: previous collaborations include Alice in Chains, The Flaming Lips, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (who really are more of an early aughts band, but still).

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FEW Smashing Pumpkins Bourbon starts out as the core bourbon expression, made from a mashbill of 70 percent corn, 20 percent rye, and 10 percent malted barley. After aging for four years, it was cut from cask strength to 93 proof before bottling with Midnight Rose black tea from Madame Zuzu’s Emporium, a tea shop run by Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan and his wife Chloé Mendel Corgan located in nearby Highland Park. “Whether you’re making music, painting, blending tea, or distilling spirits, you’re making art,” said FEW founder and master distiller Paul Hletko in a statement. “As a Chicagoan, I felt a personal responsibility to match the raw, primal energy of the Pumpkins. Songs like ‘I Am One,’ the opening track of the band’s first album, Gish, provided a ton of inspiration. Press play and you’re immediately struck by these thumping, propulsive drums, joined seconds later by a tight bassline groove before crunching guitars kick in to round out what, for me, is such a signature sound. That’s the driving, yet symphonic quality we wanted to bring to this liquid.”

So how does that translate in terms of flavor? We haven’t gotten the chance to try this whiskey yet, but the tasting notes make it sound like a “hummer” of a bourbon with rose water and honeydew melon on the nose, followed by sandalwood, caramel, vanilla, and black tea on the palate. If you’d like to try FEW Smashing Pumpkins Bourbon tonight, tonight, it will be available nationwide over the next few weeks leading up to the release of a new Pumpkins single and the start of their North American tour with fellow ’90s rockers Rancid and Green Day. You can also order it from the FEW Spirits website, and the rest of the lineup is available to purchase from ReserveBar now.

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