When David DeFazio’s father reached for scotch the one he always wanted was The Macallan.
That made an impression on DeFazio. So when Wyoming Whiskey announced last week a new alliance with Edrington, an international spirits company whose portfolio includes The Macallan, the Jackson resident couldn’t help but draw a connection.
“Edrington is in my opinion the gold standard when it comes to whiskey in the world,” said DeFazio, who founded Wyoming Whiskey with ranchers and fellow attorneys Brad and Kate Mead and serves as the company’s chief operating officer. “My dad always reached for Macallan first, and that was how I was introduced to them.”
As a result of a new “strategic partnership” with Edrington, Wyoming Whiskey is poised for a dramatic national and even global expansion.
“What happens is it takes a long time to create a product: You focus your resources on what you’re making,” said Brad Mead, a Jacksonite who is president and CEO of Wyoming Whiskey. “The process of distributing it across the United States is very resource-intensive and requires a lot of infrastructure. For most small distillers it’s really hard without a partner that has experience and infrastructure and sales expertise.”
Wyoming Whiskey has had “overtures” from other companies during the past several years, and “these guys were a fit from a culture standpoint,” Mead said.
“We didn’t have an intention of selling” the company, he said. “You reach a point where you say, ‘We can either be a regional high-quality whiskey, but if we’re interested in expanding and having more people try it and enjoy it ... maybe the best way to do that is to find a strategic partner that has that sort of skill set.‘”
DeFazio said of Edrington: “To be able to be brought into their family of premier spirits gives us a national credibility among the most discerning whiskey drinkers that we would have fought years and years to get. ... The goal now is to see Wyoming Whiskey on the shelves wherever Macallan whiskey is sold.”
Edrington is based in Scotland, with an Americas office in New York. In addition to The Macallan, its brands include Highland Park, Glenrothes, Cutty Sark and The Famous Grouse scotch whiskies, Snow Leopard Vodka, Brugal rum and Partida Tequila.
Chris Spalding, president and CEO of Edrington Americas, said in a press release that Wyoming Whiskey “holds its own against the nation’s finest.”
“The brand has been acclaimed by national spirits experts who can attest that world-class whiskey is being made out on the Wyoming frontier. We are proud to be playing our part in helping more consumers discover the quality of this outstanding American whiskey.”
Edrington employs 3,000 people worldwide in its companies and joint venture operations. Wyoming Whiskey has nine full-time employees.
The idea for a homegrown whiskey was hatched in 2006. Distillation began in July 2009, and the first small batch bourbon hit the Wyoming market on Dec. 1, 2012. Today the company also makes Outryder Straight American Whiskey, Single Barrel Bourbon, Barrel Strength Bourbon, Double Cask sherry-finished bourbon and a few limited-release, special-edition varieties.
The distillery, which is in Kirby, uses traditional bourbon-making methods and non-GMO grains grown by farmers in Byron.
As for which new markets Wyoming Whiskey will expand into, Mead said, “We’re always going to look at Wyoming first. They expect that there will not be enough [product] initially, so it will be allocated. The decision will be made using their insight about which markets make the most sense to prioritize first.”
Specifics of the partnership weren’t disclosed, but Mead and DeFazio said Wyoming Whiskey will still run Wyoming Whiskey.
“We’re still going to be doing what we like to do. That’s make the whiskey,’ Mead said. “The marketing and sales that they bring to do that is not so much a change as it is a supplement.
“We’re just bringing on board somebody who does that job a lot better than we could,” he said. “We’re really excited about it.”