Distillers seem to have an eye for quality fruit, the way that sculptors can look at raw materials and imagine the way their sculptures will look as finished products. When the distillers at Whistling Andy Distillery saw the amazing cherry fields in Bigfork, Montana, they imagined the fresh spirits that they could make with them.
When the laws changed to allow for small distillers in the state, Lisa Cloutier and her husband, Anderson, jumped on board and started Whistling Andy.
This year they made cherry brandy from local cherries, but the distillery usually focuses on it’s other products — gin, vodka, moonshine and rum. Whistling Andy makes two different rums — a silver rum that takes on the flavors of coconut milk and bananas, and the award-winning Hibiscus-Coconut Rum. “We wanted to come up with a product that didn’t taste like sun tan lotion,” says owner Lisa.
Lisa has a culinary background, and a degree in political science and international relations. She jokes that her background didn’t quite set her up for distilling, but we’d argue otherwise. Lisa and Anderson traveled around the world before they started the distillery. Much of their travel was concentrated in the Caribbean, where they got hooked on Jamaican rum. Combine an interest in Caribbean culture with culinary skills and you’ve got yourself a masterful, inventive distiller.
Lisa raves about Montana’s beverage culture — the area’s prime grain-growing geography and pristine water lend themselves to some of the country’s best beers and spirits, she says. Whistling Andy recently collaborated with Blackfoot River Brewing Company to distill their single malt IPA into a spirit called HOPSHNOP. This fall they will come out with a Pink Peppercorn-Pear Gin that Lisa says has a “cool funky crispness” from the pear. Whistling Andy will also release a bourbon next year.
Whistling Andy is located in Big Fork, Montana in a resort area near Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. It’s a landing place for travelers from all over the world, as well as natives who swear by the power and beauty of the scenery. Lisa quiets down and slows her speech when she talks about the location. “It’s just a gorgeous spot in the world,” she says.
Beautiful scenery and handcrafted spirits? Sign us up.
Spirits from Whistling Andy:
Whistling Andy Gin
Whistling Andy Vodka
Whistling Andy Silver Rum
Whistling Andy Moonshine