Last year around this time I reviewed my first bottle of Wyoming Whiskey. Overall, I was quite pleased with how this particular spirit has come along. You can read my entire review here. It also includes a little interview with one of the co-founders of Wyoming Whiskey, David Defazio. The landscape has changed a little throughout the past year, and the distillery has recently released a second product in limited quantities to the Wyoming market. The Single Barrel Bourbon selections come from carefully selected barrels and are not blended with others. I had the chance to chat with David again recently and received some interesting information from him about the latest product and where the company is headed.
Picture courtesy of Wyoming Whiskey
Noticed that you have a new single barrel product on the shelves. How would you characterize this as compared to the standard bottle you sell?
These very few barrels are selected from many and only make the cut if they meet very high standards. We have only bottled 4 so far. And, the State has sold out. All of our product has matured meaningfully since last year and these barrels have benefitted the most as evidenced by their balance and depth of character. The finish is wickedly smooth. I have not heard one negative remark about the Single Barrel Product.
Have you been able to slowly lengthen out the time that the bourbon matures til it is bottled, or is it around the same age as what I sampled last year?
Yes, these barrels are five years old, as is the majority of our small batch product.
How has been the transition from Steve to Elizabeth as the master distiller?
Elizabeth is no longer with us. She had intended to train under Steve for the year, but when his family drew him back to Kentucky in February, this plan disintegrated. So, our crew is making bourbon under the direction of Sam Mead, my partners' son, who is our production manager. He has already applied his engineering degree in ways that help increase quality and production. And he's just getting started.
What other new products may be showing up in the next year?
You may see a barrel-strength bourbon from us. There are a couple of honey barrels that we are setting aside for this purpose.
Wyoming Whiskey had originally hired on Steve Nally of Maker’s Mark fame, somehow pulling him out of retirement. He was the master distiller for quite a few years, and had moved on from the company this past year. He is now heading up a group that is opening a new distillery in Kentucky that is hoping to break into the bourbon market. They expect their first products to be aged around 7 years. As we all know, it is hard to keep afloat as a company if they are not selling product. In the meantime, it looks like this group will do what so many other “craft” distillers have been caught doing, and that is selling bourbon that is produced from mega-factories that is then labeled as their own.
Bourbon has had quite the renaissance in the past few years with the popularity of the spirit soaring. People go crazy trying to find limited edition products like Pappy Van Winkle and many estimate that overall bourbon production in the United States will not catch up to demand anytime soon. This of course leads to higher prices and tighter supply for the most popular of brands.
It is good to see that Wyoming Whiskey is lengthening out the age of the barrels that they are bottling, as it can only lead to smoother and more refined bourbon. From most of my tasting, it seems that 6 to 7 years is about optimal for most bourbon. There are other processes that can speed up these results, and I have tasted batches that are only 18 months old and rival that of much older products. I look forward to hearing more about what Wyo Whiskey is doing to improve their product.