Rock stars and actors have their own alcohol labels, so why not sneaker moguls? James Bond (not that James Bond), the co-founder and CEO of Los Angeles streetwear shop Undefeated, launched a California-made whiskey with fellow sneaker king Jon Buscemi — designer, sneakerhead, and mastermind behind luxury footwear brand Buscemi. (Yes, he’s a cousin of actor Steve Buscemi.)
The name they chose for their spirit? Wolves Whiskey.
The minimalist bottle comes in a bare wooden box and is branded with the engraving: “The price of being a sheep is boredom. The price of being a wolf is loneliness. Choose one or the other with great care.”
Uhh, we choose the wolf. And so did tons of other whiskey and sneaker fanatics. Among 898 “First Run” bottles, the entire stock was sold out in a matter of days from two exclusive retail partners, Flaviar and ReserveBar.com.
At $150 a bottle, that’s mildly insane.
So what gives Wolves its superior bite?
First Run is a blend of three distinct whiskeys. Buckle up and try to imagine this hybrid: they start with a whiskey double distilled from a craft stout beer, aged eight years in French oak casks, then add a whiskey double distilled from a pilsner, aged in new American oak for five years, and lastly a spicy rye whiskey to round out the finish.
If you’re imagining an intense whiskey, you’d be right. The Manual got a first-taste of Wolves Whiskey First Run and it was strong, sharp, and true to its 106 proof. Sip this booze, friends. Sip it.
For those whiskey drinkers with a palate for bourbon (sweeter with a full body thanks to the corn mash), Wolves Whiskey may not be part of your pack. The rye mash is intense. Then again, so are Bond and Buscemi. Wolves even says in an official press release, “’First Run’ is not your standard bourbon experience.”
“I wanted to sip something with my people at my house that was truly different, something you couldn’t find anywhere else,” said Buscemi of his new project. “When we found the master distiller in Northern California, we knew we found what we were looking for, for our first release. He’s an artist. We brought some special Rye to the table and blended a juice that is balanced and rich.”
Artistry is no overstatement. According to Wolves, their 13th-generation Master Distiller, Marko Karakasevic, lived by the still for each small batch, sleeping in four-hour shifts so that no one else could touch the equipment. Karakasevic double distilled Wolves in an Alembic pot still that was imported from Cognac, France, which the brand says is one of five in the U.S.
Because Wolves is distilled from craft beer, you would imagine the nose to be slightly sweet and hoppy, with a smooth finish. However, the rye power in Wolves is dominant. Much like a pair of rare Nike Air Jordan 4 Eminem X Carhartt sneakers, Wolves Whiskey is made to be collected.
While you can get the Eminem X Carhartt sneakers online for about $25,000, you’re outta luck for Wolves First Run. A rep for the brand did say Bond and Buscemi are rearing for a second batch release, most likely in the fall and winter of 2019-20.