Whiskey wait lists: People start reserving bottles of Wyoming's first bourbon

The lists began in June, but the questions have been coming for years.

Where can I get it? When can I get it? How can I make sure I get a bottle of Wyoming Whiskey?

Kelsey Dayton

Anticipation for Wyoming Whiskey has been mounting since Jackson residents Brad and Kate Mead and David DeFazio decided to open Wyoming’s first legal distillery several years ago. This summer, excitement reached a new level of intensity and some liquor stores began allowing customers to reserve their bottles.

There’s never been this type of hype about the release of a liquor in Wyoming, said Mike Reid an owner of Poplar Wine and Spirits. “Especially for one that hasn’t been tasted,” he said.

Reid’s store started taking reservations in June after questions and requests inundated the high-end liquor store. While he declined to say how many buyers are on his list, he did say there have been dozens of pre-orders for the whiskey, which he’ll retail for about $40.

Wyoming Whiskey plans to release 18,000 bottles Dec. 1. Those will go fast, Reid said. It’s near the holidays so people will buy bottles as gifts as well as securing one for themselves. His store hopes to receive 100 cases — six bottles to a case — when the state liquor commission allows orders from retailers starting at 3 p.m. Nov. 28. Wyoming is an alcohol-controlled state, meaning the Wyoming Department of Revenue is the only wholesaler and distributor of spirits and wine, said Tom Montoya, chief of enforcement with the liquor commission.

The buzz over Wyoming Whiskey is statewide and something he’s never seen before. In part he thinks it’s because the whiskey is Wyoming-made with Wyoming products. Adding to the demand is the notoriety of Steve Nally, the master distiller who created the bourbon. Nally used to be a master distiller for Maker’s Mark.

“You have someone like Steve Nally as your master distiller and, I mean, wow. That’s all I can say,” Montoya said. “He’s such an artist at what he does.”

Nally’s aware of the expectations riding on his concoction. “I’m scared to death,” he said.

At the distillery in Kirby, workers are preparing for Dec. 1. The glass should arrive soon, along with labels, Nally said. So far the distillery isn’t revealing what exactly the packaging looks like.

Nally said he recently tasted the bourbon and relaxed a bit. “It has a very nice bouquet or aroma to it and the taste is quite smooth,” he said.

Wyoming Whiskey plans to release about 50,000 bottles in the next 12 months. The first release on Dec. 1 will be about 18,000 bottles. The next release will depend on how quickly those sell, but Nally expects it will be in January and another release in the summer.

Not to worry; there will be enough to go around the state, Montoya said. Still some retailers aren’t taking any chances.

Wyoming Whiskey fermentation tanks
One of the massive fermentation tanks at Wyoming Whiskey’s distillery in Kirby, Wyo. The company will make 18,000 bottles available for sale on Dec. 1. (Ruffin Prevost/WyoFile — click to enlarge)

Stephan Abrams, a partner at The Liquor Store in Jackson, has his order ready online. At 3 p.m. Nov. 28, he’ll click just one button to get it to the state.

People have been requesting Wyoming Whiskey at the store for several years now, he said. The store started its pre-orders in June. Abrams wouldn’t say how many people are on his list, but did say taking pre-orders is unusual for the store.

Abrams declined to say how much he hoped to buy for the store, but did say it’s a tough balance because he wants enough to meet his customers’ demand, but also doesn’t want to order so much people elsewhere in the state can’t get enough for their customers.

Butch Hendrickson isn’t worried about reserving a bottle. He reserved a barrel, which holds 225 to 250 bottles. Barrel No. 60 will be shared with his family, he said.

Hendrickson has been following Wyoming Whiskey since it arrived in Kirby, where he used to own a restaurant. Since selling the restaurant, he’s worked at Thermopolis Liquors, where people are constantly asking for Wyoming Whiskey. Some don’t seem to understand it isn’t out yet and try to haggle a bottle when they are told they have to wait until Dec. 1. The store isn’t taking pre-orders and when it arrives they will likely limit how much people can buy at a time to make sure all their customers get a chance to buy a bottle.

Hendrickson drinks Maker’s Mark, and Pendleton whiskey — but don’t tell Nally, he said as an aside. It doesn’t really matter though because he expects after Dec. 1 he won’t drink either. His drink-of-choice will be Wyoming Whiskey.

— “Peaks to Plains” is a blog focusing on Wyoming’s outdoors and communities. Kelsey Dayton is a freelance writer based in Lander. She has been a journalist in Wyoming for seven years, reporting for the Jackson Hole News & Guide, Casper Star-Tribune and the Gillette News-Record. Contact Kelsey at kelsey.dayton@gmail.com.

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Kelsey Dayton is a freelancer and the editor of Outdoors Unlimited, the magazine of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. She has worked as a reporter for the Gillette News-Record, Jackson Hole News&Guide...

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  1. This will rival any iPhone launch — I only have to figure out which store I will camp in front of on Nov 30!!