Today’s adventure took us to Kirby, Wyoming which is about 12 miles north of Thermopolis. Kirby is the home to Butch’s Place - home of the Big Burger, and the home of Wyoming Whiskey, the first legal distillery in the history of Wyoming.
Our first stop was Butch’s Place for lunch where we met Butch and had some great conversation about the restaurant, about ham radio, and about the area. When we were there, two gentlemen came in for lunch, one was the distributor for Coors, the other for Budweiser – they were such fun. I just love these small towns.
We did not have the Big Burger but we did have a wonderful Buffalo Burger.
Here is Butch’s Place:
From there we went to Wyoming Whiskey for a tour.
The first barrel was filled in 2009 and the aging began. The first bottle was sold on December 1, 2012 in Wyoming. Since then, distribution has expanded to Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Texas.
We started the tour in the gift shop and walked over to the distillery.
All the ingredients come from the state of Wyoming. The corn from Byron, wheat from Kirby, barley from Riverton, and water from the mile-deep limestone aquifer near Worland. The raw materials come into the plant and are milled there.
The ingredients are weighed and added at various stages to the mixer:
The coils regulate the temperature of the mix:
From there to the fermenters:
To the distiller:
This is where the alcohol content is measured:
The still contains the markings of the original ranch where the distillery is located. This brand is also on the bottom of the bottles of bourbon, however, the logo of Wyoming Whiskey is the double WW.
From there, the bourbon goes into charred barrels. These barrels are held together by the metal rings surround them. How about that!:
This barrel is empty but when it is filled it will be the 5,705th barrel filled since the start.
Next was one of the three warehouses on the site:
I forget how many columns they had but each one was six high and 10 deep – WOW! The new production is put on the two two rows and then eventually rotated to the bottom two rows. Long explanation but it has to do with the temperature of the warehouse (heat rises) and the expansion and contraction of the barrels themselves.
In many cases, if the barrel leaks, it will seal itself.
They still have the first ten barrels – notice the serial number:
From there we walked over to the bottling area:
This is the bottle washing station. The bottles are washed with the bourbon instead of water so the bottle contents are not contaminated. Isn’t that something!
The barrels are poured into these tanks where they are filtered and the alcohol content checked. If too high, the filtered water will be added.
The bourbon is then pumped to the bottle filling station.
The barrels are brought in to this building for a few days before using to equilibrate since this building is always temperature controlled. Each barrel will produce 200 bottles. The bourbon is bottled based on demand or availability of the product.
This is a very small operation but you could see their pride. They do shut the distillery down in the summer because they cannot control the temperatures. Packaging continues because it is based on need. The people are not furloughed but continue working – maintenance, cleaning, doing the tours, preparing for the next season.
After the tour, we walked back to the gift shop where we had a taste of the bourbon and learned how to taste bourbon – very interesting. So how did we like it … well, it was a little too strong for us. For me, it would need to be blended with water or soda. Oh well – .
Very interesting tour and I highly recommend it if you are in the area!
We got home mid afternoon - it was warm and a storm was moving in. Our kitties enjoying the breeze before the storm:
A few storms came thru and by late evening, the temperatures cooled down significantly!