Next time you are at your local liquor store, try to find a bottle of craft whiskey that is not sourced and is over 8 years old. Seems daunting, right? Even finding one older than 5 years is hard. It’s just a fact that craft distilleries take a long time to release anything aged more than 4 years old (even if they’ve been open for much longer).
However, what if I were to tell you that there is a craft distillery that has a whiskey that is almost 9 years old that you can find on the shelves right now in almost every state in the US? That’d be crazy right? Well it’s not. This bottle is the least promoted, most ambiguous looking and the most untalked-about whiskey on the market right now: Wyoming Whiskey Outryder.
You can find the story of why Wyoming Whiskey Outryder isn’t named a bourbon or a rye whiskey all over the internet. The quick explanation is because Former Master Distiller Steve Nally (who just came from Maker’s Mark) was told to make a ryed bourbon and rye whiskey by the owners of Wyoming Whiskey. Steve was against the idea because his whole distilling career was built on making wheated bourbons.
So after he made 200 barrels of ryed bourbon, he purposefully made 100 barrels of whiskey that used no dominant grain (48% winter rye, 40% corn and 12% malted barley). Then he quit. When these barrels came of age, the owners ran into a conundrum. They couldn’t call it a rye whiskey or a bourbon, so what could they do with it? Enter master blender Nancy Fraley.
Wyoming Whiskey called up Nancy in the attempt to salvage these barrels of whiskey and turn them into a product that could be sold. Together, a plan was hatched that they would use 200 barrels of ryed-bourbon (mashbill 68% corn, 20% winter rye and 12% malted barley) and blend it with the 100 barrels of rye-dominant whiskey. The goal wasn’t going to be to blend it all at once though. Instead, it would be slowly blended together throughout the years into batches that became more aged as they progressed.
Today, I have a bottle of “Batch 4” Outryder that Nancy Fraley blended shortly before it’s 9th birthday (8 years and 10 months to be exact). It’s a bottled-in-bond product, just like the previous batches, and has spent its entire life in Wyoming. But since it doesn’t carry that age statement, it is easy to overlook (most would assume it’s 4 years old). Now that you know the story, it’s time to taste this whiskey to find out if this is the best kept secret in craft whiskey. This was sampled neat and in a Glencairn.
Nose: This nose has so many things going on. It starts out basic with notes of vanilla, cinnamon stick and leather. Then it just gets crazy with scents like Jones Grape Soda, crushed walnuts, freeze dried peaches and orange jellybeans. There are also aromas I’m not sure I’ve experienced in an American Whiskey before as well like fresh cut wood (normally I get charred or seasoned). There are also many botanical notes that seem to really give away the high amount of rye grain that was used.
Palate: The mouthfeel is very buttery. There are notes of German Christmas Cookies (i.e. heavy with gingerbread and star anise) and funky, almost fermented fruits. A dusty taste (like actual dust) and spices like cinnamon, ground ginger and nutmeg are prominent with every sip. The sweetness isn’t as much as you’d expect from a bourbon, but then again this isn’t a bourbon. There are notes of scorched brown sugar and prunes that even things out a bit. Overall, I find the palate to be complex but a bit disjointed.
Finish: The finish starts off very dry. But after a couple more sips, the finish starts to reveal a bit of dried apricots and cherries. Cinnamon, dry leather, toasted wood and toasted pecans all start to take form and round it out. But the strangest aftertaste reminds me of “dried beans.” I’ve never had anything quite like it before. I don’t even know if I’m describing it correctly.
It is not an exaggeration when i say that this is one of the most unique whiskies I’ve tried from a distiller that wasn’t necessarily trying to be unique. Some distillers smoke their grains or finish their whiskies in obscure barrels, but they do those things on purpose. Outryder is different because I don’t think they set out to create something that would end up being so different.
There are a few producers out there that create products that blend rye whiskey and bourbon together on purpose; High West Bourye, Wild Turkey Forgiven and EHT 18 Year Marriage are just a few of the more well-known ones. But those all turn out tasting like a really bourbon-y rye whiskey or a really spicy bourbon. However Outryder tastes like neither. The dry characteristics are typical of barrels aged in low-humidity climates. But certain flavors and aromas are ones you’d never expect to find in either a bourbon or a rye. It’s fascinating and wholly unique but could be off-putting to some people out there.
I wish I could give this whiskey an even higher score because the trials and tribulations of a distillery like Wyoming Whiskey seems so compelling. But a 7.7 seems appropriate in the end. If onlly it had a bit more sweetness and balance, I’d like it even more. But with the climate the barrels are aging in, I’m skeptical if it will gain those characteristics by time these barrels run out in 2022. If anything, it may continue to lose sweetness while becoming more laden with tannins. And despite everything I just said, I find myself actually anticipating the next release either way. As I said in the beginning, a craft brand that has a product that is this aged is rare and deserves to be experienced at least once. So I’m excited to see what the next batch brings.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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