From whiskey distilled on the ranch, to secret distilling operations during the prohibition era, the Cowboy State has a long history of spirits. This notorious history leads us to the legal operations of today, starting with the first legal distillery in Wyoming, Wyoming Whiskey. No matter which part of the state you’re in, you’re sure to come across something to wet your whistle. We've taken the liberty to plot these distilleries on a Wyoming Distillery Tour Map.
Wyoming Whiskey - Kirby
Wyoming Whiskey is an independent, family-owned distillery, in Kirby, in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming. Owned by the Mead family, fourth generation cattle ranchers in the state of Wyoming (and brother of the current Governor Matt Mead), they are deeply connected to the heritage and legacy of Wyoming. The production facility sits on cattle ranch land where they source water from a limestone aquifer in nearby Manderson, as well as sourcing their non-GMO grains from Rageth Farm in Byron.
Everything that goes into the bottle is 100 percent Wyoming. In fact, on the bottom of every bottle, is the brand of the Mead’s working cattle ranch, placing an emphasis on Wyoming’s heritage. Visitors can take a 45-minute tour the facility, starting at the Wyoming Whiskey shop. Here, they’ll see grains milled daily, view the distillation area and the custom designed, 38-foot copper still, as well as enjoy the sweet warehouse aromas. Tours will be conducted Monday-Friday 10am-3pm at the top of the hour.
Backwards Distilling Company- Mills
Sitting around the family dinner table is where this distillery became a reality. Backwards distilling is really a family affair with a brother and sister, mother and father team of four who started and now run this full time distillery and tasting room in Mills, Wyoming, right outside of Casper. The Pollock family has done a lot of traveling over the years seeking out the best foods and spirits, but one day around the family table, it occurred to them that they could make their own.
After about 2 years of traveling, research and education, the distillery quickly took off. Now, you can visit their tasting room for seasonal specialties and get a taste of the local product in more than one way. The Backwards menu features spirits and cocktails that are not only made from scratch, but some feature produce from a cooperation with the Wyoming Food For Thought Program, which is a local organization that helps fight hunger in Wyoming’s Natrona county. The tasting room is open 3pm – 9pm, Wednesday through Friday, 12pm – 9pm Saturdays, and 12pm – 5pm on Sunday. Tours are conducted Saturdays at 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm as well as Sundays at 12pm and 2pm. (Tours are limited, so it’s highly recommended to call ahead to guarantee your spot.)
The Backwards Distilling family includes not only the Backwards line, but also 307 Vodka, and Milk Can Moonshine. Most well-known for their moonshine, the inspiration for this product draws deep from Wyoming’s past. In the era of the prohibition, Wyoming had a reputation for producing some of the best moonshine in the country. One particular distiller sold his product out of a dairy wagon which is why Milk Can Moonshine comes in an old-fashioned style milk jar.
Wojtek Distillery- Laramie
Speaking of drawing from history, our next stop with Wojtek Distillery in Laramie has a history of its own. The recipe for their most well know product, Vazoonka, comes from a family recipe brought over from Poland when Company president and head distiller, Robert Vanatta’s family settled in the Sheridan Wyoming area. Used as a source of trade on the family ranch, the recipe has been passed down generation by generation. As far as Vanatta knows, they are the only producer of vazoonka outside of Poland.
Leading to today, when Vanatta graduated from the University of Wyoming and decided to open up a full blown distillery producing vazoonka, vodka, and gin. Currently in the process of moving to a larger space with a tasting room. The new production facility will share space with 307 Wines working in collaboration as two Wyoming-production facilities together. Currently Wojtek products can be found in restaurants and bars in the Laramie area.
Koltiska Distillery- Sheridan
The Koltiska’s settled in Sheridan County in the late 19th Century and the family has called Wyoming home for more than five generations. As a ranching family, Justin Koltiska’s great grandfather had a liquor recipe that was always in high demand from family and friends, and brought to local celebrations. In 2001, Justin, his brother Jason, and his uncle Rob opened Kolts Fine Spirits. In 2005, they released the handcrafted Koltiska Original Liqueur, followed by KO 90, each an embodiment of the spirit of the American West.
In early 2016 Kolts Fine Sprits became the Koltiska Distillery, and the company opened a new production facility and tasting room in July, offering guests an opportunity to sample old favorites, new products (Vodka and Winter Mint) as well as craft cocktails inspired by more than 100 years of local family lore. The Koltiska Horse & Carriage Co. offers daily tours that include classic carriage rides throughout Sheridan’s historic core and distillery tastings and tours.
Big Lost Meadery- Gillette
Big Lost meads are made with a combination of brewing, wine making, and traditional maizing processes. Their mead can be found around the state to include the following establishments:
Gillette- Good Times Liquor and the Center Bar
Sheridan- Star Liquor and The Mint Bar
Powell- WYOld West Brewing Co
Tensleep- Tensleep Saloon
Byron- The Byron Bar
Newcastle- T&A Brewing Co
Jackson Hole Still Works- Jackson
The dynamic duo of Chas Marsh and Travis Goodman are not only the creators of Jackson Hole Still Works, but are also the only employees at the small batch distillery. Chas brought a deep background in brewing beer while Travis has more than 14 years in the wine business. When combined the pair was quickly able to distinguish the best grains and flavors for their product. Using corn from Riverton and Oats from Powell, Jackson Hole Still Works produces gluten free Highwater Vodka and Great Grey Gin.
The pair works tirelessly to distribute throughout the state, often driving numerous hours to meet with local liquor stores in remote locations. As a result, their product is available in 85-90 percent of stores throughout the state, as well as restaurants and bars. When product is ready, they host local bottling parties which brings the community together for 4-5 hours to help bottle new product and spend time together. Participants can “mark” the bottles they work on and then look for them in local liquor stores.
Their mission is to educate consumers that Wyoming does in fact produce some of the best spirits in the country (and, possibly the world), so they just need to move outside their comfort zone and demand/order these products from their distributors and restaurants. The tasting room is open from 10am – 6pm, Monday through Sunday (but customers are encouraged to call ahead to confirm Chas or Travis is on-hand.)
Grand Teton Distilling Company- Jackson Hole Tasting Room
As a bonus, stop by the tasting room for Grand Teton Distilling Company in downtown Jackson. The tasting Room offers free samples of their award-winning spirits, along with retail items such as logo glassware, barware, wearables and of course bottles to purchase. Stop in and let one of their staff educate you on the distilling process and why their spirits have become world renown.
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