Wolves Whiskey Debuts With a Complex Blend

Featuring rye and a pair of whiskeys made from craft beer

Distilled in California using a style of still that’s been widely retired, Wolves Whiskey launches with a proprietary blend of three experimental spirits. Though percentages aren’t disclosed, their “First Run” whiskey (the official title of this release) is a blend of a “whiskey distilled from craft stout beer, aged in French Oak for eight years, a whiskey distilled from craft pilsner beer, aged in New American Oak for five years, and a rye selected for its spice to round out the back palate.”

All three elements are present and distinguishable—the stout-based whiskey gives the blend weight, the pilsner-based one counteracts the former with buoyancy, and the rye brings warmth and an enveloping cinnamon-like sting. At 106 proof, even a modest pour is a sizable feat—though enjoyable.

Enlisting the mastery of Marko Karakasevic, of Charbay Winery and Distillery fame, Wolves’ co-founders James Bond (of Undefeated) and Jon Buscemi (of Greats, Buscemi, Oliver Peoples and more) wanted to make something purposefully extraordinary—not only in general taste, but also regarding finer details. The bottle is cut from heavy French glass, wrapped in an Italian sheepskin leather label and sold in a hot iron-branded wooden box. It’s an undoubtedly complex and well-layered tipple.

“The spirit of the project came from a conversation,” Bond says. “How can we take what we do in one industry and expand into another industry and see if we could make it work? It’s all about building a culture and lifestyle in everything we do.”

“When we started our conversation, it was, ‘How do we separate ourselves?’ and again we took a page from our existing playbook,” Bond concludes. “Jon had the amazing leather catalog from his shoe business, we had the team to build bottles and design the logo—all from our existing teams, we had the formula just needed to add it to another object and idea.”

“First Run,” which was limited to 898 bottles, has sold out. Reservations for “Second Run” are open now.

Images by Evan Malachosky