Review: Few Spirits Breakfast Gin

Few Spirits is one of those distilleries that we keep going back to because they consistently crank out great spirits. And since I’m local to Chicago, I can find nearly every variety they produce. Their American Gin has been my go-to gin for years — but the other day when I was browsing my local Binny’s, I noticed that they have a new Breakfast Gin. Naturally, I decided to pick up a bottle to see how it compares.



Evanston, located just north of Chicago, was the birthplace of the temperance movement that spawned Prohibition in the United States. For nearly a century following the end of prohibition, the city continued to maintain some of the most restrictive laws regarding the sale and consumption of spirits, but all of that started changing in 2001.

Paul Hletko didn’t start out in the distillery business. Engineer, patent attorney, and rock and roll band member, Hletko took a rather unconventional route to the whiskey business. According to Hletko, the biggest inspiration for his turn to distilled spirits came from his grandfather, who owned a large brewery in Poland prior to the outbreak of World War II. His grandfather was forced to flee the country and spent the rest of his life unsuccessfully fighting to get it back. That determination and love for alcoholic beverages was a family tradition Hletko wanted to continue.

Between 2001 and 2011, Hletko was instrumental in getting the laws changed in Evanston to allow for alcohol distribution and production to resume. The path now clear, he opened his very own distillery called Few Spirits dedicated to doing things right: in-house production using local ingredients.

The FEW Spirits distillery was founded in 2011 in a small warehouse next to the train tracks and down a side alley in Evanston, Illinois. When asked about the inspiration for the name, Hletko simply responds that it was because “we didn’t make a lot”. They were a small craft distillery operating in the days before craft distilling was a common thing, buying second hand equipment wherever they could find it.


Most spirits have fairly strict labeling requirements, but gin is a notable exception. While there are a few varieties of gin that have strict rules (Plymouth gin, for example) most versions and varieties are about as lawless as the wild west. American style gin can be made anywhere in the world and contains the standard juniper plus any other mix of botanicals to create the flavor profile that the distiller is looking for. (Which makes it a little strange when you see an American gin labeled from a British distillery, but that’s the level of chaos we’re talking about with American style gin.) Breakfast gin is not really an official variety, but rather a term used to describe gin that uses some sort of tea as part of the botanical flavor.

It’s not officially stated, but based on our experience it’s a good assumption that Few’s breakfast gin starts life the same way their popular American style gin does. Few Spirits’ American gin starts as a dry mix of 70% corn, 20% wheat, and 10% malted barley (which is a regional variety of barley). Interestingly, this is pretty much the same grain bill from their bourbon. That grain bill is fermented using a specific form of yeast that’s typically used in the production of saison beer (a typically lighter and crisper form of beer).

What sets the breakfast gin apart is the addition of Earl Grey tea during production. This well-known variety of tea adds the bold flavor of bergamot. If you are unfamiliar with bergamot, it is a variety of orange cultivated from the bitter Seville orange from the Mediterranean region and sweet lemon native to Southeast Asia.

This cranks the citrus flavors in this gin to 11, as the Earl Grey is joined with other more traditional botanical gin elements including juniper, lemon, vanilla, orange peel, and what is most likely a bitter hop. Those are all the components of a traditional gin, and the difference that makes this an American style gin is the proportion in which they are each used. (And with the juniper, the key word there is “sparingly”.)


The bottle is rectangular with flat sides, a sharply tapering shoulder, and a short neck. On the front and back of the bottle are full size labels in the same style of the 1890’s, with monotone blue printing and old fashioned type face. The label isn’t too busy or overstated; instead, it has just enough artwork to make it an interesting.

This variety of gin steps away from the standard use of turn of the century Chicago iconography. Rather than the “Chicago Wheel”, the original Ferris wheel built for the 1892 World’s Columbian Exposition, or an early rendering of the “L” raised subway (just a handful of the examples that can be found on some of their other offerings), this bottle leans into the bergamot aspect and depicts a simple steaming cup of Earl Grey. It may not be a uniquely Chicago image, but the overall feel of the bottle and artwork is consistent with most of Few’s bottles. I could certainly see sipping this cup of tea at a café along the river.

I’m am a fan of labels that pop while sitting on a bar back, and this does just that. The large label may hide some of the clear spirit, but it’s a great homage to the history of the brand. Besides, when you see that short square bottle that resembles an oversize deck of playing cards, you know it’s from Few Spirits.



This breakfast style of gin seems to give the citrus flavors license to tell the juniper to back off. Instead of getting a distinct Christmas tree aroma, the primary components are that of lemon and cardamom. The juniper is there, but it’s faint. As Hletko noted, American gin is more focused on pretty much every component other than the juniper, and the same is true for this breakfast gin.

Taking my first sip was honestly surprising. The botanical flavors are strong… like punch you in the face strong.  While many gins can have more subtle flavor, this tastes like the distiller wants you to get all of the various flavors at once.

The thing I appreciate most is that it’s not the juniper that hits you first — it’s the lemon, lime, pine, and cardamom flavors. The juniper is still there in the mix, but it’s not the star of this breakfast.

While the flavors may be strong — and surprising if you are not expecting them — the gin itself is delicious and very refreshing neat.

On Ice

Unsurprisingly, this bold spirit changes drastically when it’s served on ice. And it’s exactly what we expect: ice helps to mellow out stronger tones. On a more delicate gin, this might be a bad thing — but for this bold, flavorful gin, this is a fantastic addition. 

The flavors are still bright and enjoyable, without being overwhelming. The strong citrus notes are still prominent, but being more subdued by the ice makes this smoother. Finally, the overall flavor profile rounds out well, with the juniper, bergamot, and cardamom all finding balance with one another.

My favorite part, however, is the emergence of a mild black tea flavor. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s there, and it helps to tie a neat bow around a spirit that I could see sipping on the deck during a warm summer evening.

Cocktail (Gin & Tonic)

Not going to lie, I was salivating at the thought of this G&T. It’s one of my favorite simple cocktails (and a must have during any airline club or inflight experience). The great citrus flavors along with a balanced juniper — this gin promised to have all of the ingredients for greatness.

And I was not disappointed. The citrus paired incredibly well with the bitter, sweet combination of my Fever Tree tonic water. I probably didn’t need an extra lime — but it’s all part of the experience, so I added one anyway.

Overall, this was a great cocktail. The citrus, juniper, and quinine flavors all were kept in perfect harmony. The lime garnish gave the cocktail gave a hit of sour on the note that just worked well. 

Cocktail (Negroni)

This gin was on a roll until it got steamrolled by the bold bitterness of the Campari. Sadly, I think the scales just got tipped a little too far out of balance in this drink.

Have you ever put too much citrus in one cocktail? I have, and this seems like the same situation. Between the bold citrus flavors of the gin and the citrus notes and bitterness of the Campari, it’s gone too bitter… and that’s saying something, since I tend to enjoy bitter drinks (give me a super dank IPA any day). 

The gin itself cannot be picked out of this cocktail — it’s just a blah blend of brash bitterness. And for this test, that’s an unfortunate fail.


Overall Rating

I enjoyed Few Spirits’ American gin, but noted in my review of it that the flavors were more delicate and nuanced (a fact that makes it my go-to choice for a martini). But this bottle of Few Breakfast gin takes the delicate flavors and puts them on some bergamot steroids. The result is a beefed up, citrus-forward gin that is excellent on the rocks, with some tonic, or even neat. 

I am excited to see what other cocktails would make great use of this bold gin, and cannot wait to enjoy a glass on the rocks during the first warm Chicago evening of the summer. Personally, I can’t decide which I like better: the G&T or just sipping this on the rocks… good thing I have the rest of the bottle to make this determination.

Few Spirits Breakfast Gin
Produced By: Few Spirits
Production Location: Illinois, United States
Classification: Gin
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 42% ABV
Price: $32.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating:
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 4/5
You better like a citrus forward drink – this is like a bergamot grove in every bottle.


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