There's something rare and special about a truly well made whiskey. You can argue all day long (and whiskey lovers do) about Scotch and Bourbon and Canadian, but good whiskey is simply good whiskey wherever you find it.
And I found a good one from Montana.
Bryan and Kari Schultz are a young couple from Montana, fresh-faced and clear-eyed and friendly, quick with honest warm smiles and eager to show off their new whiskey.
RoughStock Distillery is an all-Montana production near Bozeman, dedicated to small batch craft whiskey.
The barley malt and the fresh water come from Montana (and so do the Schultzes); the copper still comes from Kentucky, where such things are made, along with the requisite white oak barrels, where such things are also made.
The whiskey has just recently been released...you can currently get it in Montana, but you'll have to wait until Bryan and Kari get it distributed out to other areas, because there's not a lot of it right now and it has to work its way out through the system of distribution to other states.
But when you can get it: Get it! For a young whiskey with not a lot of maturation time, this is remarkably good, well made, and balanced whiskey, folks. Once production ramps up a bit more, and Bryan has some further time to develop aged stock, I suspect some of the slight rough edges will soften with maturation and mellow out with added complexities. Not to say the whiskey isn't drinking well right now---it's surprisingly smooth for its age, with a soft vanilla and spice finish, and would be a good sipping whiskey, as well as a base for some enterprising cocktails.
So when you see Montana Whiskey (the first Montana Whiskey since Prohibition!) pop up on the local retail shelf, or on the back bar of your favorite watering hole, don't be shy. I think you'll be impressed when you try it. I was! Now I'm thinking it would be great in a classic (i.e., freshly made by someone who knows what they're doing) Old Fashion. Or perhaps a softer-sided Manhattan with a little touch of cherry juice? Hey, let's make a "Montana Smash!"
RoughStock Distillery Montana Whiskey (www.montanawhiskey.com)
And if you're up around Bozeman, give Bryan and Kari a jingle. My bet is you'll get a warm Montana welcome.