A proliferation of small-scale distilleries are popping up across the country. And Idaho isn't immune to the trend. Companies like 8 Feathers Distillery, Idaho Bourbon Distillers and Northern Pacific Distillery are all making moonshine in Boise and plan to offer bourbon as soon as it's finished aging. In the meantime, we decided to check out a few small batch bourbons made by some of Idaho's close neighbors to get a handle on the competition.
4 Spirits Bourbon, $27.95
Shaped like a moonshine jug, the 4 Spirits bottle features an illustration of a gun, a helmet and a combat boot. It also comes with a military dog tag imprinted with the company's logo. But unlike the packaging, this Adair Village, Ore. bourbon is fairly subdued. Mild honey and vanilla notes come through on the nose and the palate is also fairly simple, with just a hint of caramel and crème brulee on the finish. As one taster put it, "This is a whiskey to drink, not think about."
Wyoming Whiskey, $39.95
If 4 Spirits is a little too mellow, Wyoming Whiskey is the exact opposite. With an aggressive moonshine and "cleaning supplies" nose, this Kirby, Wyo. small batch bourbon doesn't ease up on the palate. Harsh alcohol heat and barely-there oak character led one taster to proclaim, "I wouldn't drink this twice."
Willie's Distillery Big Horn Bourbon Whiskey, $37.25
This Ennis, Mont. entry is the most classic bourbon of the three. Mild, sweet barrel character comes through on the nose with hints of vanilla and spiced cake. The palate on this 40 percent ABV whiskey has more heat than the first whiff would indicate, but it calms down nicely with a splash of water or an ice cube.