Seven Devils ‘Idaho whiskey’ is all about the water

Because it’s easy and affordable to produce, vodka is the most common product from Idaho distillers. But Caldwell-based Koenig Distillery and Winery — whose Huckleberry Flavored Vodka is a popular cocktail pour at higher-end bars — just began offering bourbon.

The initial shipment of Koenig’s Seven Devils Straight Bourbon Whiskey materialized on state liquor store shelves in March, and sold out in under three weeks.

Making bourbon takes planning. Seven Devils is aged about 5 1/2 years in Koenig’s cellars — a similar waiting period to, say, Maker’s Mark. It’s labeled “Idaho Whiskey,” but it was distilled in Kentucky in a collaborative effort. If you’re determined to find a Gem State ingredient in Seven Devils, here’s one: The cask-strength whiskey is cut to 90 proof using Idaho water.

In the end, it’s all about taste. Just for fun, a friend and I sampled Seven Devils and Maker’s side by side. Maker’s, a wheated bourbon, is sweeter and a little smoother. But we found Seven Devils more interesting, with a bump in heat and complexity that offered the expected vanilla and oak, but even a hint of fruit (to me).

Seven Devils retails for $29.95 (750 milliliters). As a comparison, Maker’s Mark is $27.95.

I have a feeling that Koenig won’t be the only Idaho distillery to offer a new spirit this year. In the past few months, I’ve reviewed moonshine from Grand Teton Distillery, been contacted by Boise’s new Idaho Bourbon Distillers, and had a press release from 8 Feathers Distillery passed on to me by a colleague.

Craft beer is all the rage in the Treasure Valley, but distilleries seem ready to pour it on, too.

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Michael Deeds is the Idaho Statesman’s entertainment columnist and Scene magazine editor. His column runs Fridays and Sundays. He appears on the 6 p.m. broadcast of "Today's 6 News" on Thursdays and hosts a music show, "The Other Studio," from 9-10 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.

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