By Jim Stanford on December 3, 2012
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead might as well have declared today a state holiday, after nearly every resident rushed out to purchase and consume ample quantities of his brother’s Wyoming Whiskey over the weekend.
The long-awaited first release of the homegrown bourbon became a marketing sensation unlike anything the state has ever seen. Not only were hundreds of Wyoming retailers shut out, but stores, too, were raided shortly after opening.
Jackson Whole Grocer opened at 7 a.m. Saturday and sold all 150 bottles in stock within 25 minutes. Yes, people lined up to buy whiskey at 7 a.m. The store had to cancel a planned tasting because there was none left to taste.
At the distillery in Kirby, a line of roughly three times the town’s population of 92 stretched from the party tent as people waited to buy a bottle, in a scene one onlooker described as reminiscent of Prohibition.
The question lingering like cottonmouth and a dull headache, though, is whether the whiskey lived up to the hype. The Casper Star-Tribune consulted a liquor expert, who described it as “one of the best bourbons I’ve ever tasted.”
A Jackson Facebook poster sought input from his friends, saying, “The jury’s still out.” One commenter wrote, “Needs to age. First taste like rubbing alcohol but finishes off pretty smooth.”
I was able to secure a bottle through a discounted pre-order but thought twice about putting it up for bid on eBay, given all the hoopla. (It would go well in this decanter.) The bottle is destined for a holiday gift or sharing with friends.
Jackson rancher Brad Mead and attorney Dave DeFazio, partners in the venture, sold some 3,000 cases — 18,000 bottles — from the first batch, which was aged in charred oak barrels for three years.
“It’ll be ready when it’s good and ready” was one of their slogans, and evidently it worked to build anticipation. Before the next batch is ready in spring, Mead, DeFazio and new national sales director Tim Harland likely will hit the interview circuit to discuss their marketing brilliance.
It helped that the whiskey was released Dec. 1, in time for the holidays and as gloomy weather took hold across the state.
For those with the shakes or still jonesing for a drop, The Liquor Store next to Albertsons will host a tasting from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday. The makers, including master distiller Steve Nally, will be on hand to sign bottles. There will be a few cases for sale beginning at 4.
Also, via Dishing, Q Roadhouse is throwing a launch party Friday with Wyoming Whiskey-flavored food and one cocktail provided with $10 entry.
(Kirby photo by Barb Allen; bottle via TLS)