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Wyoming Whiskey: Going from Reviewing Hardware to Wetware

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Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: Wyoming Whiskey

Bourbon? Really?

Why is there a bourbon review on a PC-centric website? 

We can’t live, eat, and breathe PC technology all the time.  All of us have outside interests that may not intersect with the PC and mobile market.  I think we would be pretty boring people if that were the case.  Yes, our professional careers are centered in this area, but our personal lives do diverge from the PC world.  You certainly can’t drink a GPU, though I’m sure somebody out there has tried.

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The bottle is unique to Wyoming Whiskey.  The bourbon has a warm, amber glow about it as well.  Picture courtesy of Wyoming Whiskey

Many years ago I became a beer enthusiast.  I loved to sample different concoctions, I would brew my own, and I settled on some personal favorites throughout the years.  Living in Wyoming is not necessarily conducive to sampling many different styles and types of beers, and so I was in a bit of a rut.  A few years back a friend of mine bought me a bottle of Tomatin 12 year single malt scotch, and I figured this would be an interesting avenue to move down since I had tapped out my selection of new and interesting beers (Wyoming has terrible beer distribution).

Click to read the entire review here!

I immersed myself (with budgetary constraints) in trying out different single malts and building up a nice cabinet of products that I can sample when time allows.  After several years of this a friend of mine pointed me to several varieties of bourbon.  There is an interesting connection between single malt scotch and bourbon; primary aging of many single malt scotches is done with used American White Oak barrels that previously held bourbon.  Sure, oftentimes these scotches have a secondary or tertiary aging in sherry butts, port barrels, and rum casks, but the majority of time is spent in those lovely used white oak casks that are shipped across the Atlantic for those thrifty Scots to pour their liquid gold into.

I tend to think of single malt scotches of being very subtle in their flavors.  Slowly sipping these will give a variety of flavors at different times of the experience, from the nose, to the palate, and then the finish.  If scotch is subtle, then bourbon is often a punch in the mouth.  Not saying it is a painful experience, but the flavors that come out are very strong.  It is a different experience from that of a single malt, but it is one that can also hide a lot of subtleties as well in the experience.

A few weeks ago I approached a local bourbon distiller about potentially sampling their wares and sharing my experiences with our PCPerspective audience.  I was pleasantly surprised when they replied to my request with an affirmative.  Bourbon reviewing here I come!

 

Why Wyoming Whiskey?

I lived in Thermopolis, WY growing up, which is only around 15 miles south of Kirby, WY.  A family friend owned a ranch out in Kirby, and on occasion we would help brand cattle and ride around their arena.  The Mead family ended up buying the ranch some years back and then decided to do something a bit different.  They thought they would try their hand at the bourbon business.

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The copper still at Wyoming Whiskey stands around 3 to 4 stories high.  An impressive piece of engineering.  Picture courtesy of Wyoming Whiskey

The property where they decided to build the distillery and warehouses is of course the ranch (and namely that arena) that I would visit in my youth.  So there is a personal connection to Wyoming Whiskey, though I never met the owners (they arrived in Kirby well after I had left the area).  That is not the only connection I have with the place.

My father was a practicing attorney in Thermopolis, and he worked on a project that would become integral to the production of bourbon in Kirby.  Some 43 miles away, outside of Worland, Wyoming, there is an artesian well that taps into the Madison formation.  This formation of sand and limestone purifies and conditions the water that passes through it.  The water from this well is so pure, that absolutely no treatment needs to be done to it for it to be potable.  The water as it comes out of the ground is pristine.  This water is then distributed not only to Worland, but also piped all the way to Kirby.

The Big Horn Basin is a very fertile area with farms being irrigated with water from the Big Horn River.  It is also considered “the banana belt” of Wyoming since the basin and surrounding mountains tend to protect the area from extreme weather.  Not only does Wyoming Whiskey get their water from a local spring, but they also source all of the ingredients from farmers in the area.  These farmers have been open to working with WW (Wyoming Whiskey) in differentiating their crops and choosing to do things like go from 82 day corn to 90 day corn to increase the starch content.

So after making sure they had the land, water, and raw materials they went after a master distiller.  They found Steve Nally.  Steve retired from being the master distiller at Maker’s Mark, a high end distiller of bourbon.  He in fact was inducted into the bourbon Hall of Fame (yes, there is such a thing) and he is widely respected in his craft.  The Meads and their partner David Defazio were able to convince Steve Nash and his wife to come out of retirement, move to Wyoming, and start a bourbon from scratch.  This is likely a once in a lifetime endeavor for anyone that has worked in the distilled spirits industry, and one few would pass up if given the chance.

 

The Bourbon

There is a misconception that a spirit can only be labeled “bourbon” if it is distilled in what was once historic Bourbon County, Kentucky.  This is not actually the case.  To be a bourbon the spirit must be produced in the US, made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn, aged in new, charred-oak barrels, and distilled to no more than 80% alcohol.  It then needs to be barreled for aging at no more than 62.5% alcohol and bottled at 40% or more.  There is no minimum specification for aging.  This information comes courtesy of Wikipedia.

It appears as though the exact mixture for the bourbon being offered by Wyoming Whiskey is approximately 67% corn, 20% wheat, and 13% malted barley.  This is a wheated bourbon rather than using rye as a flavoring grain.  It is then barreled at around 110 proof (55%) and then bottled at 88 proof (44%).  The result is a very pleasant looking medium amber colored spirit in a distinctive bottle.

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James Watt would be proud at how efficiently we can produce alcohol in vast quantities.  Picture courtesy of Wyoming Whiskey

The first limited batch of Wyoming Whiskey was released in December, 2012.  This had been aged to approximately 3 years in the barrel and Steve declared that it was fit to be bottled.  Bourbon is sold with aging as little as 3 months, so 3 years should take most of the edge off.  Throughout the year they have had other limited releases.  I personally tasted one from around February, 2013.  The final limited batches are 15/16.  I received product that was bottled on Oct. 1, 2013 and from batch #15.  This bourbon was barreled in 2009, so it is actually four years old and has gone through four winters and five summers.  This will be the final limited bottling until unlimited bottling begins in December.

Kirby is interesting in that it has massive shifts in temperature from summer to winter.  Summers often see temperatures in the 90F to 105F range, while winter can go all the way down to -40F.  This heating and cooling of the spirit drives it into and out of the wood, thereby giving it the flavor and mellowness we are accustomed to.  Chemical reactions also occur during this aging, and the final product is one that has the characteristic amber coloring of a mature bourbon.

November 6, 2013 | 08:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have a feeling I can guess what the next pc per give away prize is...

November 6, 2013 | 09:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Amen to that ...A personally signed bottle of JoshDog 20/20 :)

November 6, 2013 | 09:14 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Must be a fan of wood alcohol!

November 7, 2013 | 03:27 AM - Posted by JWDickieson

Please let this be true.

November 6, 2013 | 08:48 PM - Posted by derz

They should send Ryan a bottle, so he can compare it with that Kentucky bourbon. He is probably a semi expert by now as I am sure he drinks after every podcast to dull the pain.

November 6, 2013 | 09:26 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

What am I even reading???

:D

November 6, 2013 | 09:29 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Pure envy...

November 6, 2013 | 09:31 PM - Posted by Trotline (not verified)

As a fellow bourbon fan, I really enjoyed this. It's good to see the distilling business getting a good spread of new operations out there. While the more traditional bourbons like Maker's Mark and Wild Turkey are great, new tastes can only improve the whole class. Good article, as always, Josh! :)

November 6, 2013 | 09:35 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

I really enjoyed researching how they set up this distillery.  Plus it is kinda cool that it is in the little town where my dad would drag us to eat on Friday nights (Butch's Place- had huge burgers, pickled herring, and mushrooms saute'd in garlic butter...).

November 6, 2013 | 09:41 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Looks like someone is mask his alcoholism by calling himself a beer enthusiast.

http://niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/support-treatment
National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) toll-free telephone number for alcohol and drug information/treatment referral assistance.

Telephone: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

New Rules for Alcohol Companies to Advertise and Market on Social Networks
http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2011/09/20/new-rules-for-alcohol-companies-t...

Might be violating laws since your not giving minors an opt out. Age verification might be needed to view alcohol advertisement and content.

November 6, 2013 | 09:51 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Looking at other reviews concerning alcohol... they didn't have age verification.  So, reviews do not fall under their pervue.  For an example, here!  http://cocktails.about.com/od/whiskeyreviews/fr/Makers-Mark-Bourbon-Whiskey-Review.htm

Remember, the first step in treating alcoholism is to admit that you have a problem!

November 6, 2013 | 11:13 PM - Posted by pdjblum

Anonymous, I think you need a drink. I don't think any one around here will be buying. But who knows? Enjoy.

November 7, 2013 | 09:26 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

your comment became invalid as soon as you said "Looks like someone is mask his alcoholism"

>someone is mask
...pls.

November 6, 2013 | 09:56 PM - Posted by jgstew

This article makes me sad that I live in a liquor control state and will likely never be able to get this or any other interesting liquor options that I read about. I suppose it is a good sign that I never remember to check out the options when I'm in another state.

November 6, 2013 | 11:17 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

You probably save money that way as well!  Win/Win!

November 6, 2013 | 11:35 PM - Posted by pdjblum

There is no fucking way you grew up in a small town in WY and branded cattle as a kid. I grew up in Manhattan and on Long Island, and I am sure you did the same. You are far more like woody allen than robert redford. Ok, maybe you look more like redford, but you certainly act more like allen. Anyway, still waiting for you to don that white helmet in your office on a podcast. And I was trying to get some work done when you had to post an article I could not help but read. Don't do it on my time. Really, thanks for the article.

November 7, 2013 | 02:12 PM - Posted by MrBlack

Found an old pick of Josh in his younger cowpoke days...
http://i.imgur.com/oPu2H1D.jpg

November 7, 2013 | 03:25 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Oh... my.

November 7, 2013 | 12:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I need a stiff drink, each and every time some of these so called tech journalists, not on PCper, comments about any new ARM based 64 bit mobile chips, first they assoicate the 64 bit data bus, registers, etc., that any CPU is measured on, 32 bit data bus, and registers for 32 bit CPU, and 64 bit data bus and registers, for 64 bit CPUs! These journalists (the so called tech experts) always make the mistake of assoicating the CPU's data width, with the amount of memory the CPU can address, and the data bus has nuthing to do with how much memory a CPU can address, memory addressing is a function of the CPU,s address bus, so the 32, and 64 bit size, for measuring the "bit size" of a CPU has nuthing to do with how much memory the CPU can adderess, want more memory to be addressed, make the address bus wider, but CPU size is measured on the size of the data bus, and the size of the CPUs standard maxium with of the general purpose internal registers! Want your tablet or cell phone to have 4 gigs of total addressable memory, you only need to have a 32 bit address bus, but why are these so call tech reporters allowed to continue to make these same mistakes, I need a drink!

P.S. I am not including the many special purpose CPU registers that exist on many CPUs of the 20 years, that can and do have registers larger than the standard word size of the CPU, via special extended instruction sets!

November 7, 2013 | 12:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Ok, now that I've had a few more gin and Canada dry talls, I'm going to ramble on, 'bout the ARMs top tier archetecture liscense! Folks Apple takes the ARM instruction set [ONLY] and builds a CPU from the ground up that can execute the ARM 64 bit instruction set, just like AMD does with its x86 instruction set cross liscense from Intel (thank you IBM for forcing Intel to do this so many moons ago!) So Apple, Qualcomm, and in the future Samsung and AMD, and maybe Nvidia, will build custom ARM 64 bit CPUs based around the ARM 64 bit top teir archetecture liscense! Remember Apple's CPU is an all Apple design, that just so happins to execute the ARM Holdings 64 bit instruction set, via the large wad-o-cash that Apple, or any of the others with the clams to afford ARM holdings' Top teir archetecture liscense! In the the future there is going to be a whole crap load of ARM 64 bit instruction set based CPU/GPU custom mashups that will run circles around ARM's generaic refrence designs 64 bit CPUs that companys without the big Apple/Qualcomm/Samsung/AMD big bucks archetecture liscense, will offer! Look for some damn powerful and low cost Linux based CromeBook/laptops running custom ARM 64 bit CPUs with AMD/Nvidia/Other intrigrated GPUs, with some better than IRIS Pro graphics, and some good needed competition with the Chip Pimps at Intel!
Woops, Time for more hair of the dog!

November 7, 2013 | 12:59 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Drink more!  I'll join you!

November 7, 2013 | 01:00 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hay, that's a good use for all that excess GPU heat, just put a pot-o-sour mash on that GPU an run the copper tubing out the back and through the copper coil, right into the ball jar it go! Or the OAK barrel for some age, with right moss and filtering!

November 7, 2013 | 01:34 AM - Posted by Robert23655124 (not verified)

That copper still looks amazing!

November 7, 2013 | 03:49 AM - Posted by razor512

Can the whiskey be overclocked?

November 7, 2013 | 04:30 AM - Posted by Prodeous

I'll be most likely a minority on this. But Honestly I'm disappointed and confused by this post. That is honestly not a reason I visit this site. It's called PC Perspective.. not AA Perspective.

November 7, 2013 | 08:45 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

The best part of reading a website is that you get to choose what you read!  Unlike TV shows where you have to sit through sections you might not care about, you don't have to click on articles or posts that you have no interest in.

November 7, 2013 | 09:28 AM - Posted by Stinger (not verified)

I laughed out loud!

November 7, 2013 | 08:48 AM - Posted by Goofus Maximus (not verified)

This explains the quality of the last few podcasts so very clearly now. ;)

Before we know it, there'll be a whole "barside chat" section in PCPer. I'm betting that soon we'll even see reviews for "Midnight Moon" authentic legal moonshine....

November 7, 2013 | 09:34 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Authentic legal moonshine... that sounds horrific.  Why would people do that to themselves?

November 7, 2013 | 09:55 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Everclear 190 proof would be close to legal shine, but not as smooth as the stuff in the ball jars, real shine goes down like spring water, and warms you up like a whole supercomputer rack of the hottest GPUs!

SnuffySmith'sPickledLiver.

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