From whiskey distilled on a ranch to secret distilling operations during the prohibition era, these Wyoming distilleries are worth a visit.
1. Wyoming Whiskey – Kirby
Wyoming Whiskey is an independent, family-owned distillery located within the Bighorn Basin in Kirby, Wyoming. Owned by the Mead family, fourth generation cattle ranchers in the state of Wyoming, this distillery is deeply connected to the heritage and legacy of Wyoming.
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. The production facility sits on cattle ranch land, where water is sourced from a limestone aquifer in nearby Manderson. The distillery also sources non-GMO grains from Rageth Farm in Byron.
Visitors can take a 45-minute tour of 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 are conducted Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-3 p.m., starting at the top of the hour.
2. Backwards Distilling Company – Casper
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 had done a lot of traveling over the years to seek out the best foods and spirits. One day around the family table, it occurred to them that they could make their own.
After about two 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 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tours are conducted Saturdays at 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. as well as Sundays at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. (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.
3. 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 often 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) and 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.
4. 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 they are also the only employees at the small-batch distillery. Chas brings a deep background in brewing beer while Travis has more than 14 years in the wine business. Combined, the pair quickly distinguished 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.
Chas and Travis work tirelessly to distribute throughout Wyoming, often driving 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.
The mission of Jackson Hole Still Works is to educate consumers that Wyoming does in fact produce some of the best spirits in the country (and, possibly the world). The tasting room is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday (but customers are encouraged to call ahead to confirm Chas or Travis is on-hand).
5. Pine Bluffs Distilling – Pine Bluffs
Pine Bluffs Distilling is a family affair. What started as a home set up for owners, husband and wife, Chad and Theresa Brown along with their aunt Kathy Brown has now turned into a full-blown business. They opened their distillery in 2017 and are proud to support their local community.
“It’s not only about contributing spirits; it’s also about contributing to those around us. Using local grains, providing local jobs, and operating with transparency is what matters to us,” Chad says.
Like many Wyoming distilleries, Pine Bluffs Distilling works with local farmers to gather their ingredients. The Browns work with the Formstrom Family for corn, the Andersons for barley and oats, the Macys for rye, and the Butlers for white wheat. They take pride in knowing that their product doesn’t come from pre-made malts but is locally sourced from family-owned farms. While their main product has been whiskies, Pine Bluffs Distilling now has one vodka and a gin for you to sample.
Pine Bluffs Distilling is open Tuesday-Thursday 12-5, Friday 12-8, and Saturday 3-8. Tours are provided upon request.
6. Cowboy Country Distilling – Pinedale
Tim Trites, owner and Master Distiller of Cowboy Country Distilling, fell in love with Wyoming when he visited in 2001. He would go on to find the perfect place to open his distillery in Pinedale after discovering a property with a natural spring from the snow-capped Wind River Mountains. His own distilling experience spanning forty-eight years has accumulated in award-winning spirits. These efforts have borne fruit in Ukrainian-inspired vodkas, Austrian-influenced cordials, rums with notes of the Dominican Republic and whiskeys and bourbons that evoke and incorporate a personal and family history reaching back to Scotland.
The distillery officially opened in 2018. Their products are never sourced but made completely at the distillery and their waste goes to local farmers as feed and fertilizer. They are proud to be environmentally responsible. Tastings and tours can be made upon request.