At first glance, the story of Wyoming Whiskey rings as all too familiar. Locally sourced, locally crafted, locally bottled, etc. But in this PR-saturated world, one populated by the same, predictable buzz words—words that are sometimes used without actually being true—it’s refreshing to find a distillery where these descriptors are 100% accurate. In fact, the locavore obsession is largely why Wyoming Whiskey’s product is so damn good.
Sure, the name of the distillery itself isn’t precisely imaginative. But it does nicely reinforce the distillery’s allegiance to the land that surrounds their HQ in Kirby, Wyoming. Working off a mash bill and recipe devised by Bourbon Hall of Famer Steve Nally, they source all their ingredients in-state, and craft and age the booze in small batches in their on-site rick houses. All the water used during the distillation is drawn from a mile-deep limestone aquifer in the neighboring town of Manderson. They source the wheat, barley, and non-GMO corn from nearby Riverton and Thermopolis—only the barley comes from out-of-state, from the nearest malting facility in Great Falls, Montana. The bourbon is aged in charred white oak barrels, and stored in an unregulated room, meaning that the state’s temperature fluctuations (up to 130 degrees in the summer, and below freezing in the winter) ages the bourbon more quickly and effectively. The booze is even bottled when it reaches 88 proof—that’s 44 percent, because Wyoming was the 44th state to be admitted to the States.
But none of these Cliffs Notes on the geography, climate, and history of the northern Rockies would matter if the bourbon didn’t taste good. Its organic ingredients and pain-staking creation process imbues the bourbon with a medium amber color that almost glows in the glass, with a modest nose of caramel and vanilla. The barrel comes through in the aroma as well, with the oak present slightly into the first sip. You get vanilla, more fruity sweetness, orange-like citrus, and a nice backbone of malt. The finish almost feels paradoxical, both smooth but with a slight burn that reinforces the bourbon’s overall muscle—not enough to intimidate those who lean toward the mild finishes, but with just enough bite to keep people like me (those who yearn for the burn of bourbon) happy. This whiskey has earned a bunch of awards over the last two years in small-batch competitions, and it’s easy to see why.
Their bourbon and whiskeys are currently available in 12 states (WY, CO, TX, MT, ID, UT, ND, SD, NE, OK, NV, and NM), with country-wide expansion slated for later 2015.