Last weekend I had a great time floating the Madison River and breaking out the camper near Ennis, Montana. When in Ennis...you make the pilgrimage to Willie's Distillery, of course.

Willie is a great guy. Not only did he start one of the most, if not the most, successful distilleries in Montana, he also served as an Army Ranger and as a Green Beret. He's a badass making badass whiskey.

Which brings me to his "Devil's Brigade Whiskey." What is that? Sounds like it'll "put you on your ass," one of my friends joked on Facebook. Well, yes it could (although it is pretty dang smooth). And the joint US-Canadian force serving in World War II put the Germans on their ass too.

So what is it? Devil's Brigade Whiskey is in honor of the First Special Service Force that trained at Fort Harrison, Montana during WWII. If you talk to some Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs they will trace their lineage to the First Special Service Force for their role in the creation of American special operations forces.

As the command historian for Army Special Forces notes:

All Special Forces Groups in the 1st Special Forces Regiment trace their official U.S. Army lineage and honors to the FSSF activation on 9 July 1942.

As Willie told me in Ennis, the whiskey is a blend of American bourbon and Canadian whiskey, just like the makeup of the FSSF:

This Whiskey is a blend of American Bourbon and Canadian Whisky, just like the ratio of men assigned to the Unit. This is our way of honoring the Bravery and Valor of this Joint American-Canadian Commando Unit who fought with distinction.

You'll also see the black devil logo from inside the bottle. Why were they called the "black devils" and the Devil's Brigade?

Much feared for their  fighting prowess, the monicker "The Black Devils" was adopted after the discovery of the personal diary of a German officer referring to "die schwarzen Teufeln (the Black Devils)." With blackened faces, small units would often overwhelm German defenders without firing a shot, and then disappear into the night.

There's much more history attached to each bottle.

Additionally, Willie donates a portion of the proceeds from each bottle to the Montana Special Forces Association “Devil’s Brigade Chapter,” which is a Non-Profit Veterans Service Organization based in Montana. www.SFA28.org

 

 

20 Montana Distilleries You Have to Visit

The Montana distillery scene is certainly taking off, and with the access to local ingredients, you can feel good about supporting these establishments all across the state. Here are 20 distilleries that are worth a visit.