First Nebraska, and now Wyoming! The boom in whisky demand has not only caused distillery construction and expansion in traditional whiskymaking regions like Scotland, Kentucky and Ireland, but has also led to a new generation of upstart distilleries in unlikely places. Since you can build a distillery anywhere there’s supportive laws and clean natural water sources, and because you can basically truck in your grains from anywhere, the map is wide open to anyone who can acquire the startup capital.
On July 4th, 2009, Wyoming Whiskey began distilling in the tiny town of Kirby, Wyoming, making it the first legal distillery in the history of the state of Wyoming. Determined to do things their way, they source all of their grain from Wyoming farms growing Non-GMO corn, wheat, and barley. That’s pretty cool, and outside of an organic one-off release or two from other producers, is the first time I’ve seen mention of Non-GMO grains from a whiskey distillery. The water supply is an on-site deep limestone aquifer. The Wyoming Whiskey small batch wheated bourbon is distilled from a mashbill of corn, wheat, and barley and is aged in new charred white oak barrels for five years (or so – there’s no age statement on the bottle). Then it’s bottled at 44% ABV and retails for around $40.
Thanks to Ashley at Wyoming Whiskey, I was able to try a sample of their Batch #30, bottled 8/20/2015.
Nose: Satisfyingly deep wheater aroma – butterscotch and caramel, fresh-baked scones and dripping vanilla frosting. The aroma has no characteristics of “young” spirits: no grassiness or acetone, and at this bottling strength is round and fully present in the nose. After a rest in the glass, there is the faintest aroma of dried apricots.
Palate: A tinge of oaky tannin upfront, which is washed over by waves of soft grains with a sweet sugary glaze. Not cloying, but distinctly sweet (not dry, or spicy). A tad hot for 44% ABV.
Finish: Of medium length, and warming. No bitterness here, just echoes of the bakery treats and vanilla notes. Pleasant and well-made.
With Water: Several drops of water reveal dusty dried apples and blood orange peels, and dampen some of the sweetness. The water also tames some of the tongue burn, so a few drops don’t go amiss here.
Overall: An impressive whisky for a seven year-old distillery. A five year-old bourbon with this much sweetness and elegance, no spirity detractors of youth, and a $40 average price? Yes please! A solid Recommended, and if you’re from, live in, just kinda like, or have anything whatsoever to do with Wyoming, this is a Must Have for you!
Update 9/23/2016: Tom from Tom’s Foolery asked me to take another look at the Foolery and compare it to Wyoming Whisky. Witness the Grudge Match here.
As far as I can remember, all the major bourbon distilleries use non-GMO corn. I distinctly remember Four Roses mentioning it on their tour, and I vaguely recall it being said at the others. It’s not for any altruistic reason or anything, though. Apparently GMO products are subject to different international trade rules, and some major bourbon markets restrict or outright ban them.
Thanks for the note Eric! This is the first time I’ve seen it mentioned in publicly available information (website). For consumers who care, brands ought to publicize this more. Normally I would have assumed they were using GMO corn because the vast majority of commodity corn (as opposed to sweet corn like you buy in the grocery store) is GMO in this country.
I can understand the international trade thing, but non-GMO is a marketing scam and has no validity in science. Plus, corn is genetically modified whether you like it or not. There is no such thing as “non-GMO” corn
This is not the place for this topic, which is basically politics, but I’d like to point out that the people who are against GMO products are not against hybridized or bred products where the “genetic modification” is performed by traditional cross-breeding of plants. They are opposed to plants that have been modified in a lab by inserting genes from other organisms. There is definitely a difference. Whether there is a difference in terms of the health effects of the resulting products is up for debate. Science is about asking questions, not shutting down questions with remarks like “has no validity in science”. There is no such thing as a “closed case” in science.
Of course there is no such thing as a closed case in science. But your comment makes it sound like the health effects of so-called GMO products is a close debate, which it is not. The current evidence overwhelmingly suggest that GMO products pose no health risks to humans who ingest them. Moreover, in the context of distilled spirits, it is especially hard to imagine that any supposed toxins or carcinogens or whatever in the grain would survive the fermentation and subsequent distillation processes.
I’m going to reply to this, and then I’m not going to approve further comments on the topic. This article is about whisky, not about the politics of GMOs. I don’t consider “evidence” to be scientific when it was paid for by the companies that stand the most to gain from its results. The fact that the whole thing is still a debate, means that nobody (on either side) has any justification to say something like “…non-GMO is a marketing scam and has no validity in science”, no matter how “close” the debate is or is not. I am not advocating that anyone avoid (or seek out) GMOs. I think it harms nobody to declare on the label whether something was made (or was not made) from GMO ingredients, especially while the debate is still open.
That a GMO declaration is of some significance to this whiskey when its age somehow is not is a mind-blowing contradiction that is only understood by bloggers. “Five years or so”, not matter how accurate the guess or who makes it, simply isn’t real product information but, then again, most people writing about whisk(e)y can’t/won’t say whether age matters to it or not; to say that it does matter invalidates NAS marketing, and to say that it doesn’t makes one look like a fool when they’re asked for examples of “age immune” products. I think my points are valid, but it doesn’t really matter to me if they are censored here, if that’s how you roll. Cheers!
Wow vitriol much? I put age information when I have it. When it’s not from a particularly trustworthy source (another blog or press release, for example), I qualify it with “or so”. I have nothing to gain from hiding or misrepresenting the age of whiskies, in fact I go out of my way to find out any “real” information, which the PRODUCER usually tries to hide.
Also, I’d like to point out that as much as I am a proponent of producers sharing information about their products, I’ve also personally experienced excellent whiskies that are only two years old!
Finally, I don’t think there’s such a thing as an “age immune” product. I don’t even really know what that’s supposed to mean. I think some products are awful at young ages, some products are excellent despite young ages. It’s all subjective anyway, which is the devil in the NAS detail, it requires careful tasting to see whether the NAS product’s quality matches its price. Of course, this is true with age-statement products as well. I’ve had a number of good young age-statement whiskies (see links above), and quite a few awful products with ages in excess of 18. Just like I’ve had both good and bad NAS whiskies, and both underpriced and overpriced NAS whiskies.
It’s not “vitrol” to say that guesses are only guesses, nor does it really matter if the information is quite reliable, but not on the label; people shouldn’t have to read blogs to find out what they’re drinking – they’re already paying good money for that.
It’s not subjective to say that a whisky’s age either is or isn’t valid production information (like ABV) that belongs on the label – and most bloggers simply take no position on the issue so as NOT to have oppose NAS in any tangible way. To believe that age is NOT valid production information IS to believe in age immune products – “consumers don’t need to know the age of this because it would be the same whisky regardless OF its age”. I’ve yet to try such a whisky, and no one can tell me where to find one.
“I have nothing to gain from hiding or misrepresenting the age of whiskies, in fact I go out of my way to find out any “real” information, which the PRODUCER usually tries to hide.” – the real question is why you don’t oppose producers hiding such information, or do you “oppose” it but review the products anyway? What do you stand, not to gain, but to lose by such opposition?
“Also, I’d like to point out that as much as I am a proponent of producers sharing information about their products, I’ve also personally experienced excellent whiskies that are only two years old!”
Many people are “proponents” of product information in that they don’t mind it if more rather than less information happens to be on the bottle anyway, but that’s not the same thing as fighting for it. The issue is precisely NOT that “there are some good young whiskies”; it’s that they are the whiskies they are, in part, BECAUSE of their age – which is exactly why it should be stated.
Furthermore, value has nothing to do with the issue either, because taking valid production information from a label does nothing to make a whisky either better or cheaper – just as taking gas mileage off a car ad wouldn’t enhance the car in any way. The central issue, you see, is that NAS, at its core, is utter bullshit: there is no way that age doesn’t matter to the character of whisky OR that producers “decide” when it is or isn’t important based on their marketing needs.
I said vitriol because you were attacking me for not magically knowing the age of this particular whiskey. You also appear to be misinformed, because I oppose NAS continuously on this site, and you would know that if you bothered to read anything else before opining. See the link in my above comment on the Transparency in Scotch Campaign, you’d be enlightened by the comments section on that article. Seriously – go read it and then come back here and tell me that I don’t fight against NAS. I have never, for the record, read of anyone suggesting that whisky is the same regardless of age, but I should point out that, objectively, age doesn’t always equate to quality. I’ve had lots of bad old whisky and lots of good young whisky. I’ve also had many great NAS products, and quite a few bad ones. Of course I review products “anyway” even if they’re NAS – that would be silly to ignore all NAS products and not tell people what I think of them. In fact, that’s the best defense against NAS – let people know which ones are worth buying and which ones are not, since you can’t rely on an age statement to make an educated guess about the price-value ratio.
To sum up, you’re arguing with the wrong person.
I’m not attacking you for not magically knowing the age of the whisky; I just don’t like guesses offered as information and you’re calling this “a five year-old bourbon” by the end of the review. If you “continuously oppose” NAS on this site, do you do it in the same sense that Glaser does; you oppose NAS products, but review them while he opposes NAS products as he produces them? And we’ve already had our go around on Compass Box’s Transparency Campaign – see my comments there if you need a refresher.
“I have never, for the record, read of anyone suggesting that whisky is the same regardless of age” – no, and you won’t, of course because, as I’ve already said, to say that age doesn’t have an effect makes one look like a fool when they’re asked for examples of “age immune” products. What most whisky experts and bloggers WON’T do, however, is take the logical next step – if age DOES matter to whisky, then NAS isn’t somehow simply “controversial”, it’s utter bullshit because it amounts to the industry “deciding” if and when age matters to whisky through product labeling alone. What you won’t see is most saying “age matters to whisky, so I reject NAS marketing and products offered on that basis” because that puts them at odds with these products and the industry in a real sense.
If it comes at no cost, anyone can be “in favour” of more product information, but that’s not the same thing as fighting for more product information; the question isn’t whether someone “likes” more rather than less product information, it’s what they do when it isn’t offered. I haven’t bought any NAS products for years – other than foot the cost of a bar shot over a whisky that wasn’t mine to pick – not over issues of quality but because I won’t support NAS marketing. In this sense, I’m arguing with the right person, because most bloggers won’t boycott NAS, much less advocate that consumers should do so, and by not opposing the marketing in any tangible way while reviewing these products, bloggers serve to both promote the products and help normalize the marketing in general and make it more palatable to the public going forward. Far from fixing the problem, most bloggers are contributing to it.
“I should point out that, objectively, age doesn’t always equate to quality.” – that’s true, but neither does ABV, is that any excuse for leaving it off a label? The issue, you see, is about product information and what the paying customer should know about what they’re buying, not about quality or price-value ratios or that there are some good NAS products when the fact that “they’re good” CAN’T be linked to the fact that they’re NAS. I can take the label off the best age-stated whisky I own and make it NAS, but there’s no reason to do so, nor does doing so erase the influence that age had upon that whisky, which is, again, why the thinking behind NAS is just marketing nonsense that simply goes unopposed in most whisky media.
I don’t put the problems of NAS at the door of bloggers, much less any one blogger, but the fact is that most aren’t even denouncing NAS as illogical nonsense, much less leading any kind of opposition to it. If there’s an excuse to cover every product that comes the pipe, offered on whatever basis, in the name of “reporting”, what form, then, does this opposition take? I’m in favour of more product information, but I’ll take just whatever’s offered?
In the end, it boils down to three questions:
Does age matter to the character of whisky and is there any whisky which would not be significantly different at either half or twice its present age?
Does NAS mislead people over whether age matters to the character of whisky through its selective denial of age as valid production information only to aid sales?
What am I doing about it?
Ohh, you’re THAT Jeff, the one who has an axe to grind about Compass Box all over the whisky blogs. You yourself learned from CB that they have committed to full disclosure of all whiskies if/when the law allows them to do that. Second, I reiterate that it would be highly silly to protest NAS whiskies by failing to review them. People want to know whether they should be avoided or not, as a way to combat the lack of age information on the bottle. By NOT reviewing those NAS whiskies, I would be doing my readers a disservice, not the industry.
I’m confused by your continuing to bring up this “age immune” thing – there is no such thing. No one has ever claimed there is such a thing. You’re the only one who I have ever seen using the term. If you ask someone for examples of “age immune” products, the answer will be “there are none”. The reason that the industry uses NAS to sell whisky is because they can use younger (inferior) product to extend stocks of older malt. This is, as you put it, “utter bullshit” and should be abhorred. The way I combat it is by reviewing those products and revealing their low quality. HOWEVER as you noted, age is not always an indicator of quality. It is true that a reputable producer can blend young and old product together to produce something BETTER THAN THE OLD PRODUCT ALONE. This takes a lot of skill and access to a variety of whisky stocks, but has been done successfully. Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Aberlour abunadh, Jura Superstition, Amrut Fusion, Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve, to name just a few. To avoid being “bullshit”, the resulting product also needs to be priced below what the old stocks alone would have cost, preferably it should be priced somewhere around the average of the retail costs of the various components. The key for consumers is separating out the bullshit from the quality products that don’t have age statements because the “5” or “7” or whatever would put off people like you who think that age equates to quality. That’s what I (and many other) reviewers try to do.
Your premise is, basically, that if the age statement as legally defined (the youngest whisky in the bottle) is not on the bottle, then nobody should buy it or promote the buying of it. I reject that supposition because I want to live in a world where producers are rewarded for creating gems like abunadh and Corryvreckan. They know perfectly well that slapping a “5” on the bottle even if only 10% of the juice is five years old, and is there for a specific flavor purpose, would put the wrong idea in the heads of consumers. They’d think “I’m not buying five year old whisky!” and because of the way the law is structured, the producer can’t even say that only 10% of it is 5 years old!
To answer your questions:
1. Age definitely matters, but is not necessarily an indicator of quality. If I aged a bourbon in new oak for 80 years and slapped an “80” on the bottle, it would be undrinkable garbage at any price.
2. NAS misleads people exactly as much as the “5” would in the above scenario. They both incorrectly and inaccurately express the contents of the bottle.
3. I am promoting NAS whiskies that are worth buying, and warning customers away from NAS products where the motivation is discernibly cost-cutting (or stock-stretching) instead of flavor.
Finally, you keep discounting price-quality ratio as if it doesn’t matter. If I put 50 year-old malt in a vat with 10% 5 year-old malt (not like I would, but bear with me) and then bottled it at $30,000 a bottle, I would be doing something downright evil. However, if I instead sold it for $30 a bottle, I’d make a lot of people very happy. The only difference is the price whether there’s a “5” on the label or nothing at all. By the same token, a crappy cost-cutting, stock-stretching NAS product that was priced significantly below comparable-quality whiskies (with age statements) would be an acceptable thing to me, because it would give those on a budget an option to drink something good for less money.
Yes, I myself did get a clarification, and commitment, from CB over what they intend to do with transparency; you, of course, didn’t because it didn’t matter to you.
It’s multivintaging that proves the lie ABOUT NAS – if age matters enough to whisky in that blending whiskies of different ages gives different effects, then age obviously matters to whisky.
“I am promoting NAS whiskies that are worth buying” – yet removing production information with NAS has nothing to do with EITHER quality OR PRICE. What you and other reviewers try to do is skip this point on the basis that “age is no guarantee of quality” – but what you also avoid is the fact that NOTHING is a “guarantee of quality”, so, in the world of most bloggers, we wouldn’t need age, ABV, casking or, in fact, any information on what we’re drinking because they “guarantee” nothing. The idea that you are “educating” people by defending a form of marketing that reduces product information for the paying customer when removing that information enhances neither quality nor value, and, with the logic extended, would leave them with bottles just labeled “whisky”, is hilarious. “Age matters to whisky”, but it doesn’t belong on the label if the industry says it doesn’t, which is OK with you because you’re here to help the consumer, NOT the industry…. say what?!
Related to that, “2. NAS misleads people exactly as much as the “5” would in the above scenario. They both incorrectly and inaccurately express the contents of the bottle.” – it’s you that’s misleading people; a “5”, as we both know, would mean minimum, not average age, always has, always will. If it has a 5 on the bottle, you may or may not be drinking 5-year old whisky, but that IS the minimum age that the producer is willing to guarantee, and that number didn’t arrive by accident.
“Finally, you keep discounting price-quality ratio as if it doesn’t matter” – no, I don’t discount it, but can you tell me how removing age statements from bottles enhances it in any way? If you can’t – and no such link exists – you’ve arrived at what’s wrong with NAS: it’s a needless loss of product information to the consumer JUST to fool people over what they’re buying.
Which is why, of course, your “concentration on quality” is really just a red herring to allow you to avoid the issue that you support a form of marketing that stands against consumer interests. You’re not alone, but you’re not right.
Despite your being presumptuous and insulting, I’m just going to leave this at “agree to disagree”. I’m apparently guilty of some crime, in your mind, and you’re welcome to continue in that assumption. Anyone else who reads this is also welcome to draw their own conclusions. Good luck in your crusade.
No, as we both know, you just don’t have a leg to stand on; quality is no excuse to reduce product information, and if what information “guarantees” about quality is the only reason to have it, then labels WOULD be blank. That you’re willing to call “a draw” when you don’t have any answer to my points anyway isn’t “taking the high road”, and I leave readers to see THAT.
It’s not that I have any problem with you personally, and your reviews aren’t bad – in fact, they’re good enough that I think you might know and care enough about whisky that my time isn’t wasted in debating this stuff with you.
It’s just that your defenses of NAS don’t hold water, you can’t really decide if NAS actually needs to be opposed in any tangible way, and your brand of consumer “education/advocacy” would result in my not having any product information about what I’m buying.
I think that the root of the problem is that, like many other bloggers, you’re committed to promoting/reviewing NAS products if that’s what the industry wants to push, and work backward from that conclusion in terms of justifying what you’re doing, instead of first asking whether NAS in any way makes sense in what it says about whisky and age (and if age matters to whisky, you have your answer) and then working forward to decide if it’s a form of marketing that should be supported by either purchase or review.
Dear Mr. Noob,
Why are you so in favor of NAS Scotch?!??
Haha. Just kidding. I think Jeff needs a drink or two.
Bought a bottle of the Wyoming, Good stuff! Cheers!
Thank goodness a comment about the bourbon being reviewed! I’m going to pick up a bottle as soon as I can find one.
ScotchNoob – thank you for the years of solid reviews and research on the bottles you drink. When it comes to whisk(e)y reviews you and Ralfy are at the top of the game in my humble opinion…and a bit of advice, no one in the history of the internet has ever won a comment war…
WOW, Battle Royale! I love it! Mr. Noob you are right on with this Whiskey, a bit youngish, but a good all around pour. Oh and Jeff, maybe you should indulge a bit more and stop whining. Cheers
Jeff is a moron. Wyoming is good stuff
Just discovered WW small batch on a trip to Jackson Wy. thanks to a friend who thought we needed a shot. Bought 3 bottles and brought back two. I was pleased to read the good review to confirm my taste in this whiskey. Rarely buy anything before I consult with the ScotchNoob. John