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Wyoming Whiskey: Going from Reviewing Hardware to Wetware

Author: Josh Walrath
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: Wyoming Whiskey

The Interview

Before giving my thoughts on Wyoming Whiskey, I threw a few questions towards David DeFazio, one of the founders of Wyoming Whiskey.  My questions are in bold, his replies are in italics.

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David DeFazio.  Outstanding in his field.

How many barrels does the current rick house hold?

We have three rick houses, but we call them warehouses.  Warehouse A holds 1,850 barrels, Warehouses B and C hold 2,250 barrels. A barrel holds 53 gallons.

What are your yearly production expectations in terms of bottles?

We can make up to 1,300 barrels a year.  At our current yield, that translates into 312,000 bottles a year. But, we will not be bottling everything that reaches 4 years of age.  We will be setting many barrels aside for further aging and will use them in future single barrel, select, and other special releases.

What other states are you looking at in terms of distribution?  How complex is that process and how did the Federal shutdown affect your plans?

We are looking at a number of states.  Texas, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Montana are all very high on the list.  Others, such as Illinois, Oregon, Nevada, Kentucky, and New York are also being considered, but will likely not be in the immediate game plan.  The process has many layers and each state has different laws and regulations.  Some states are "control" states which act as the distributor and mandate that all liquor pass through their government in order to be taxed and controlled. So, it takes a meaningful amount of research, interviews, Q&A, and negotiation before the decision is made to launch in a new state.  The Federal shutdown has caused some problems in that the COLA (label approval) process has been frozen.  If a company needs to alter its label for any reason before entering a new market, that can't happen. Luckily for us, our plans were not impacted.

The current limited edition batch looks to be aged around 4 years (up obviously from the 3 year batches that were initially introduced).  What is your target aging for the unlimited edition releases?  What do you think the optimal aging for this product is if you had your druthers?

I think our four year-old is in the wheelhouse. While everyone's palate is different, you can generally assume that bourbon hits its sweet spot somewhere between 4 and 8 years of age.  Our consumer is telling us that our four year bourbon is what they've been hoping for, so that's a good indicator.  But, it doesn't mean that it might not be better at 5, 6, or 7 years.  We'll just have to see.  Will we someday have 10, 12, or 15 year-old bourbons?  Yes.  But that product has a lot of time to spend in the warehouse before it gets there.

Seeing the overwhelming positive response of this bourbon, are there plans for expansion? 

We have considered it, but are waiting a bit longer before we put any plans in motion.

What other products are in the pipeline?  Rye?  Longer aged?  More limited editions? 

We are aging a couple hundred barrels of rye whiskey, and we made some bourbon with rye instead of wheat as the flavoring grain.  But it will be a couple years before it is ready.  And, as I said before, we will release older batches along with select single barrels when those barrels develop a unique character that sets them apart.

What makes the water and the aquifer it comes from unique?  How does this compare/contrast to that found in Bourbon County, Kentucky? 

Limestone water is what whiskey needs to become great.  We found a water source 40 miles north of the distillery that comes from a limestone layer a mile deep in the ground.  It's part of the Madison formation which is approximately 350 million years old.  Much of the water used in Kentucky comes from streams that flow from limestone on the surface.  While this is still great water, it needs to be filtered before being used due to its exposure to the environment and the animals that live in it.  Ours hasn't had that exposure and is as pure as it can be.  No filtering necessary.

What are some of the advantages/disadvantages to focusing on a local supply of raw ingredients? 

We know where our grains come from and are in touch with our growers to make sure we're getting exactly what we want.  Plus, our growers have selected exact strains of grain to suit our needs.  Brent Rageth drove hundreds of miles just to meet with us and explain why one corn might be better for our operation than another. And, in this day and age, localism is important to the consumer.  If you want to see where we grow our grain in Wyoming, we can drive you there. I don't see any downside to dealing strictly with Wyoming farmers.

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Picturesque only begins to describe the area.  This distillery might be unique in regards to the temperature changes that it sees.  Picture courtesy of Wyoming Whiskey

How do you get around the distribution challenges of shipping from Kirby, WY? 

It's not that great of a challenge.  It costs a little bit more, which is noticeable, but a semi can pull up to our loading dock just like any other and haul our product to the market.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of the climate in Kirby, WY? 

That's a great question.  Our first advisors guessed that it would have a positive effect on the product, but no studies had been conducted on aging bourbon in such an extreme environment.  Now that we have observed its effects, we believe that the very hot summers and very cold winters squeeze the very best out of the barrels.  The result is a bourbon that is smoother than its age would normally suggest.  And while we were concerned that the arid environment would take a greater angel's share from each barrel, we've been able to control humidity in the warehouses to some extent and are actually realizing greater yields than we had expected.

Thanks to David for taking the time to answer my questions about his product!

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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