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Caldwell distillery sells new rye whiskey at Idaho liquor stores

Icy-smooth vodka maker or not, award-winning Koenig Distillery isn’t afraid to grab your attention with a little burn.

The Caldwell spirits producer made that clear with Seven Devils Straight Bourbon Whiskey, a pleasurable, 90-proof offering that debuted in early 2014.

Newly released Seven Devils Rye Whiskey is its fiery cousin. “Spice” is a descriptive word commonly used to describe rye whiskeys. Take a whiff of Koenig’s version, and there’s no mistaking: That there is alcohol.

Derived from a mash bill of 95 percent rye and 5 percent malted barley, it’s a welcome tradeoff in an industry that too often markets easy drinking over interesting drinking. Distilled in Kentucky then transported to Idaho, it lives in oak barrels at Koenig for a minimum of four years. It’s then cut to 84 proof with Idaho water from the “snow-capped peaks of the Seven Devils Mountain range,” as the bottle explains.

Trickled into a small glass, straight, it’s intense. After an initial burn, the nose reveals a hit of maple and hint of vanilla. Non-purists will benefit from plopping in a cube to further open the flavors. Although inherently different from Seven Devils’ bourbon, this rye expression exudes its own contemplation-worthy depth of tastes. It also makes a fine rye whiskey and cola — so don’t be afraid to “try rye” if you’re stuck in a Jack and Coke rut.

Subjective-taste bottom line: I’d normally treat Seven Devils bourbon as a neat sipper or ice companion, and the rye as an ice companion or mixer.

Seven Devils Rye Whiskey and Straight Bourbon Whiskey cost $29.95 for a 750-milliliter bottle. You’ll find them at Idaho liquor stores.

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