DEL RIO, Texas - Snaking its way through rugged isolated, dessert-like terrain, miles from any gas station, is the Devils River.
"You really have to want to come out here. It's a hard place to get to," explains Mike Cameron with Devils River Whiskey
Native American artifacts are even still preserved throughout its surrounding scenic canyons. Its remoteness has helped protect the river. Nicki Carr with Amistad Expeditions explains, "This place is very untouched."
Texas Parks and Wildlife even speak to its qualities on its website with Kerr Wardlaw saying, "It’s the cleanest water in Texas. When they measure the clarity of water, they base it off our water in the Devils River."
The water’s source is also distinctive. It's almost entirely spring fed, pulling from the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer. Gushing natural springs replenish its waters throughout.
Cameron says, "You can see all the way to the bottom. [It’s] clear and pure." He would know. "Back in college was the first time I ever discovered the Devils and came down here on a fishing trip. [I] just thought it was just a very unique place, kind of unspoiled and untouched and very wild."
With such a highly prized resource, the waters are no stranger to controversy and conservation efforts.
For those who choose to traverse the waters, all eyes are upon them. Government agencies, to conservationists, to private land owners are all working to keep these waters pristine and watch it and guests using it closely.
Several companies have tried to pump billions of gallons of it into growing populations.
"They work very hard to protect this beautiful place as they should. I'm talking about a lot of different organizations that care about this place, and I'm one of them," says Cameron who also recognized the resource for a different reason. "It's limestone filtered water, over and over again, throughout all Central and South Texas."
Purified, limestone filtered water is arguably a bedrock of the Kentucky Bourbon Industry’s' success. It’s a state credited with 95% of the world's bourbon supply.
"Any good distiller will tell you to make a good whiskey requires good water. That water would be free from iron," believes Cameron.
Cameron, whose been distilling for more than 15 years, combined his love for the river and bourbon, and set out create Devils River Whiskey.
"Kentucky and Tennessee are no magic places. You just need good, limestone filtered water," says Cameron.
Devils River Whiskey draws 3,000 gallons of water per quarter from the end of the river before it empties into Lake Amistad. They draw from the end of the river, Cameron explains, so that it doesn’t affect the river’s source. ‘To to be clear, we're not actually taking water right out of the Devils,’ says Cameron. Instead, the water comes from a private ranch well just off the river and draws from the same aquifer supplying it.
Cameron’s quest has been as closely watched as an any adventurer's on the river. Just ask Nicki Carr with one of the few outfitters servicing the river. She says, "We have a lot of restrictions that we have to abide by. One of the great things about this river is all of the restrictions. Therefore, it's conserved more."
To conserve those waters, there are few public access points and few highly regulated kayaking permits per day. The lands along the river are almost entirely owned by private land owners. Once you're on the river, don't even think about going within ten inches of the shore.
Other devilish factors also keep people at bay and the water clean, from extreme heat, flash floods, to no cell coverage.
"It’s not for an amateur beginner adventure," stresses Cameron.
Just like the rivers namesake and the whiskey's, the devil is truly in the details from the purity to how it's protected. "The river is one of the oasis of Texas, and we definitely want to keep it that way," exclaims Carr.