If you were to try a whiskey that incorporates the spirit and philosophy of Montana, your best bet would be to start with Whistling Andy Distillery.
Located in Bigfork, Whistling Andy is the state’s oldest operating distillery in Montana. It’s named after owner Brian Anderson’s father who got the “whistling” nickname while serving in the military.
“Our last name is Anderson. Everybody called him Andy and he was whistling his entire life!” Brian joked to us. “He was a craftsman in every way shape and form. He built our house from the ground up and just did everything with his hands. He loved playing around and tinkering with stuff. It’s where I got that passion for it.”
Whistling Andy opened New Year’s Day in 2010. For the first two and half years, Brian slept at the distillery five nights out of seven to really figure out how to craft the best whiskey he could.
“I wish my Dad would have been able to see it but he passed away a few years before we started the project. I wanted to do a little feature for him.”
The former geo-hydrologist — a rocks and water science geek — has access to municipal water that’s untreated. It’s fed from Glacier National Park, which crosses into Canada, into the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi — Flathead Lake.
“It’s really beautiful water for fermentations. We have really high calcium and magnesium but low iron,” Brian explained. “Yeast doesn’t really like iron but loves all those other minerals so we’ve never had to buffer our pH for any of our mashes. We’ve ended up with really awesome water out of the gate.”
For more than a decade, they’ve been honing their craft to the delight of awards judges and fans from as far away as Japan and Taiwan. They’ve joined state trade mission promoting not just their whiskey but Montana too, telling the story of Montana through their spirits.
“I think Montana is more of a philosophy. You can pretty much do whatever you want. As long as you’re a decent person and you try really hard, there’s really no limitations or restrictions and that’s something I absolutely love,” Brian explained. “Community here is incredibly strong. It’s a beautiful place to live.”
They were the first to launch a bourbon that was all made in Montana. We’re excited to be offering two bottles of their whiskey in our next box, which ships the week of June 14, 2021. Not a member? Sign up here to get your box.
What’s in the box
Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Their Straight Bourbon Whiskey has a lower corn component than most bourbons on the market. Their mash bill is 60% corn, 17.5% barley, 17.5% wheat and 5% rye. Aged for 3-4 years, expect a well balanced and nuanced sipper. It recently won the Gold Medal from SIP Northwest, beating out all other Bourbons from Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Harvest Select Whiskey
Harvest Select Whiskey features a unique flavor profile created by taking a standard American mash bill and flipping it. Their Harvest Select Whiskey is 40% barley, 40% wheat, 15% corn and 5% Rye. It results in a whiskey that’s softer and more delicate than typical American Whiskeys. Aged for 3 years in 53-gallon American oak casks that are heavily toasted and charred to medium, this whiskey has developed a cult following with bartenders nationwide.