This Idaho-produced spirit is full of local flavor that begins in the state’s famed river.
The Boise, Idaho-based distillery 44° North Vodka, which acquires its water from the Snake River Aquifer’s Eastern Snake River Plain, is named for the latitude on which it sits. Forty-four degrees north just happens to be the best latitude for growing potatoes, the key ingredient — other than water — in their vodka.
“44° North exclusively uses Idaho-grown potatoes and wears the seal of the Idaho Potato Commission as confirmation of this truth,” says Kenneth Wyatt, who co-founded the company with Ron Zier. “No other American distillery is as precise in indication of sourcing.” And by precise, he means to the degree.
The concept of using local ingredients was a founding principle, notes Wyatt. “We believe that the American West in general, and Idaho specifically, have what it takes to make superior vodka with top grains, potatoes, and water. Eighty proof vodka is 60 percent water, so the quality of it is crucial to product quality.” Using local ingredients, Wyatt says, gives their product a truly provincial nature. “It comes from someplace ‘real’ as opposed to most vodkas in America that arrive on a tanker truck from large industrial distilleries in the Midwest.”
Master distiller Bill Scott incorporates regional fruit and grains for added zing, creating specialty flavors like Rainier Cherry, Magic Valley Wheat, and Mountain Huckleberry. The latter, which is dedicated to the state fruit, is a readily drinkable rock candy of a tipple, made from Idaho’s native black huckleberry.
Whether served chilled straight or in a cocktail, one sip of 44° North’s flagship offering will make you forget vodka’s Polish provenance and swear it originates from one — and only one — cold, clear source: Idaho’s Snake River.
4 ounces 44° North Mountain Huckleberry Vodka
6 ounces lemonade
Combine vodka and lemonade.
Serve over ice.
Courtesy 44° north vodka.
From the May/June 2014 issue.