Small in number, Idaho distilleries are gaining exposure

on 28/01/11 at 11:55 am

Spirits

Idaho spirit makers are a rare breed. They are industrious, persistent, perfectionistic — and they are few.

There are only five in the state. Yet Idaho’s liquors are delightfully fresh and adventurous libations, from the zing of Bardenay gin to the silkiness of Blue Ice potato vodka.

Idaho spirits are a small piece of what’s sold here — about 1.9 percent of the state’s nearly $137.6 million liquor sales for fiscal year 2010. But their exposure has grown as the economy has changed, says Bill Applegate, chief deputy for the Idaho State Liquor Division.

“We’ve seen a trade-down happening, as people are moving from more expensive national brands,” Applegate says.

DISTILLED RESOURCES INC.

This company is based in Ketchum but makes its spirits in Rigby in a distillery originally built to make ethanol during the Carter administration’s alternative fuel movement. It’s the oldest existing distillery in Idaho.

The Ottley family and other families bought Silver Creek Distillery in the 1980s and converted it to make beverage-quality spirits. From there, they made their Silver Creek Vodka until 1996. Now they make spirits and develop brands for other companies. They are the largest distillery in the West, Gray Ottley, the company’s owner, says.

DRinc makes 25 different labels from Idaho-grown potatoes and grain, including some organic brands.

DRinc produces 44 North, Square One, Blue Ice, Teton Glacier and several others, such as Zodiac Vodka, which are now available in the state.

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