Idaho’s Premier Liquor Tasting Event comes to North Idaho By Jillian Chandler | Photo By Keri Anderson of Diamond K Photography
Born at Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and raised on Pleasant Lane in Post Falls, Rachelle (Zehm) Kelch has always considered Idaho “home.” She relocated to the Boise area when she was still young and went on to attend college in California. After graduating, the idea of wanting to settle down and raise a family became her focus, and Rachelle realized it was time to come back to her Idaho roots.
She made her way back to Boise, where she met her future husband Scott, who had established a successful liquor brokerage firm in Idaho—NorthStar Spirits. With Rachelle’s professional background in event planning and management, as well as marketing, this entrepreneur at heart was pulled into NorthStar Spirits, working her day job in addition to nights and weekends for her husband’s company.
“Over time, working with Scott in the liquor industry, I saw a need in the market for a Liquor Tasting Festival in Idaho,” Rachelle recalls, noting that there were great tasting events during Idaho Beer Month in April and Idaho Wine Month in June. July had been proclaimed Idaho Spirits Month by the Governor, though many people weren’t even aware, which gave Rachelle an idea—the birth of Sip Idaho.
“The original concept behind Sip Idaho was to celebrate Idaho-made spirits during Idaho Spirits Month,” she shares. “However, being that there are a limited number of Idaho distilleries, we quickly expanded to be a celebration of Pacific Northwest craft spirits, and now beyond! We bring in some great smaller to medium-sized imported Japanese Whiskeys and Scotch, as well as some amazing craft Tequila from Mexico, and so much more!”
The first Sip Idaho took place in the Boise area in 2019, though Rachelle has dreamed of bringing the event back to her hometown. “Because our main business has to be near the Idaho State Liquor Division’s central offices in Boise, we don’t have the flexibility to move back north at this time,” she shares. “However, we travel often in the area for work events or to see family in the area, and I’ve always had a special place in my heart for my roots! It’s been my vision and goal to bring the event up north for some time now, and we are finally able to make these dreams a reality. I couldn’t be more excited!”
Sip Idaho North will be making its way to Post Falls on Saturday, May 20. The event kicks off at 5pm (4pm for VIP ticket holders) at Red Lion Templin’s on the River. The cost is $75 for General Admission or $100 for the VIP Experience, which allows attendees access to the event one hour earlier for a more exclusive and intimate experience. Tickets go on sale at 8am on Friday, March 31, and can be purchased online at SipIdahoEvent.com. “The whole purpose of Sip Idaho is to explore something new in the liquor world!” Rachelle affirms. “Try whatever liquors you are into. Do you like Gin, Whiskey, Tequila or Vodka? It is all here in one place at one time for you to discover something that you may have seen but perhaps haven’t tried. The great news is that you don’t have to spend $30 to $50-plus on a bottle to see if you like it or not.” Rachelle and her team will be bringing the same great liquor tasting experience they’ve created down south to North Idaho. Over the course of a few hours, guests will be treated to liquor samplings, a fully catered appetizer buffet, and live music from a local musician. “I also like to throw in unadvertised surprises, so I can’t give out all the details—but be prepared for a great night out!” teases Rachelle. The event is set up to accommodate up to 500 people in the beautiful venue that sits right on the Spokane River. If the weather cooperates, the event will be held not only in the wonderful indoor space but out on the expansive outdoor patio as well. Rachelle is proud of the fact that Sip Idaho is a woman-founded, owned and operated business—and continues to be so—and is grateful for her two female office and administrative assistants who help her to pull off “all the magic.” She adds, “There is no way we could do this without the strong men in our lives. For me, specifically, that is my husband and rock, Scott.” Mark your calendar for May 20, and get your tickets, for this one-of-a-kind event. It promises to be one you won’t soon forget. As Rachelle concludes, “We hope attendees find something fun and new to enjoy and savor all year after the event is over, until next year when we come back!” For additional information or up-to-date details, Rachelle encourages you to visit SipIdahoEvent.com and either sign up for their informational email newsletter and/or follow them on Facebook.com/SipIdahoEvent. The Red Lion Templin’s on the River has a Sip + Stay room block available for anyone who would like to stay the night (think no drinking and driving), so attendees can come from anywhere in the North Idaho or Eastern Washington area, have a great night out, stay in a hotel room, and make a weekend of it!