Whistling Andy Inc. of Bigfork recently won a Platinum Medal for their Hibiscus Coconut Rum at the 2011 Spirits International Prestige Awards in San Diego. This marks the first time a Montana distillery has received a medal in any international spirit competition, according to a news release. The Spirits International Prestige Awards, which were held on June 28, were established three years ago to fill a “lingering void” in international spirits competition.
Here’s how Whistling Andy’s Hibiscus Coconut Rum is made:
Whistling Andy’s hibiscus coconut rum begins with their crystal rum, based on traditional Caribbean recipes using blackstrap molasses and unrefined cane sugar. After fermenting their recipe for eight days they triple distill the resulting alcoholic concoction, resulting in a smooth sipping white rum with wonderful notes of banana, licorice and plum. Next, the distillers at Whistling Andy steep in dried hibiscus flowers sourced from a tea company in Jamaica. The hibiscus has a very floral aroma, accenting the fruity nose of the rum. Whistling Andy’s staff purchases natural coconut from a company that spins coconut water through a centrifuge to pull the fat out, resulting in a clean, clear subtle coconut flavor without any chemical suntan lotion-like aftertaste or particulates. The result is a deep red, wonderfully scented rum with coconut undertones that finishes incredibly smooth.
And here’s a little background information:
Whistling Andy distillery opened its doors to the public on New Year’s Eve, 2010. In just seven months Whistling Andy’s distillers are already producing vodka made with 100 percent Montana winter wheat, three different styles of gin, crystal rum, hibiscus coconut rum, moonshine and are aging two different styles of whiskey. The first barrel of harvest whiskey, an American-style whiskey with barley, wheat, corn and rye, will be ready for bottling at the end of October. All of the grains used in Whistling Andy products come from one family farm in Ronan.
Whistling Andy distilling is owned and operated by the Anderson and Marchetti families. The name Whistling Andy originated from Roger Anderson’s Air Force nickname and the man on the labels of the Whistling Andy liquor bottles is Jean Claude, Dana Marchetti’s great grandfather. An interesting side note about Jean Claude, he was a Teetotaler, abstaining from alcohol. Hopefully he had a good sense of humor.
- Matt Pritchard
I’ve been wanting to put together one of these tastings myself, but someone beat me to it. No matter at all. What matters is that people are getting the word out about Montana craft distillers, which is creating a lot of buzz about the state’s newest distilled products.
Check out this great post and review of all or most of Montana’s craft distilled products. I learned that we’ll have an absinthe soon, which is really exciting, as well as some gin and some new batches of whiskey. Keep you eyes open and remember you can get most of these products at Grizzly Liquor.
I had just finished up a late Saturday breakfast when my friend Keila Szpaller, author of the phenomenal city/gov/what-you-need-to-know blog MissoulaRedTape.com, called to see what our plans were for the day. When I told her I intended to chill out and relax after a busy workweek, she invited us over to relax on the front porch with her husband Brock and their delightfully quirky pooch Alan and some Caipirinhas of course.
Caipirinhas are the national drink of Brazil, and the easiest way to describe them would be like Cuba’s mojitos without the mint. But that would be a bit unfair to the cachaça, the liquor that makes a Caipirinha what it is.
Like rum, cachaça is distilled from sugar cane, but unlike rum, it’s not made from molasses, but rather from the pure cane juice, to which fresh-squeezed lime and sugar are added to make a deliciously summertime drink that goes perfectly well with a warm spring day in Missoula, Montana.
Keila’s family hales from Brazil, where her Ukrainian relatives settled after leaving the old country in much the same way my family left Ukraine and settled in China, the Philippines and eventually San Francisco. With both of us being world wanderers, there’s nothing as enjoyable as getting together to talk about all the amazing foods and drinks that define one region or another, so it was so great to be able to sip the light and tart Caipirinhas and talk about her life in Brazil.
We eventually made our way off of their front porch and onto ours, where we continued the festivities with some surf & turf in the form of grilled salmon and steak and more talk about places we’ve been and places we want to go. We call it porch surfing, and it’s going to become a regular part of our summer plans.
Two versions of cachaça, the liquor required to make Caipirinhas are available at Grizzly Liquor. Then find yourself some lime and sugar and make it summer in Missoula.
While craft brew is and always will be my passion, I have at times explored other interesting beverages. I’ve never been secretive about my love of good wine and growing up in Oregon’s wine country, and don’t even get me started on Scotch.
And, after having visited more than 50 countries, I’ve been able to try almost every conceivable type of fermented beverage. In many places, such drinks are the elixir of life, often the center piece of a social gathering. Along with tea and coffee, fermented beverages seem to loosen the wheels of conversation and enliven interactions among people.
Now we’ve got a great wine blog, Know Your Vino, which I won’t even pretend to emulate, but I do want to include a few more interesting posts about such things as the Scotch Society here in Missoula, the growing distillery industry in the Northwest and whatever other interesting fermented beverages I happen to find out there.
So, all this to say, don’t be alarmed if you see a post about some new Scotch or other spirit. It’s all in the grand scheme of the Grizzly Growler, which is to facilitate conversation over a good drink.
Oh, and what do you think about the new look of the Growler?