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November 18, 2010     Lovell Chronicle
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www. LovellChronicle.com November 18, 2010 I The Lovell Chronicle I 9 'j ! DAVID ][~X~ Brent Rageth pauses to fill a grain truck with corn while combining on Nov. 11 at his farm northwest of Byron. The harvested corn was then trucked to Wyoming Whiskey in Kirby. Brent Rageth The Wyoming Whiske3 at Kirby is the first legal tillery in the history of is producing handcrafted, bourbon under the bon Hall of Famer Steve only ingredients from ruing. Groundbreaking took cember of 2007, and Nally started work in Steve had retired Mark distillery in 2003:! with the company. job there was to do" at over the years and was tiller for the last 15, He was inducted into Bourbon Hall of Fame in i 2006. Production of began in July of 2009, opening celebration was ......... of 2009. BY DAVID PECK and I said we could. It's early to make sure it's he added. "That's why fessional from the day Wyoming Whiskey's 000th bar- There's a Byron cormec- a special variety of corn mature before the first I like it. They have aStove Nallylocated him rel was filled April 27, 20 , and there tiontoanewWyomingven- for the distillery - high hard freeze." Corn isgood word. You don't to the present day," De- are now more than l,600 arreIs in two ture that has piqued the in- starch." planted around the need it to be on paperFazio said. "He will call aging warehouses know as rickhous- terest of people across theCorn is the main in- first of May and is har- when you're working me and give me up- es. Around 250 bottles (750 ml) can be state, gredient in bourbon, andvested in early Novem- with honest people like dates on the crop, and filled from each barrel. The company is People driving south the wheat is used for fla- ber. He said the farm that." he made a special trip looking at anywhere two to four toward Thermopolis may vor, Rageth said. The third uses water from Bitter SHARED PRAISE to Jackson to meet withmore years of aging:i!for the bourbon have noticed the shiny new ingredient is barley, a key Creek delivered by the The feeling'is mu-me and Kate and Brad with the company tto being, "It will facility that has sprung up component of the distill-Sidon Canal. tual from the WyomingMead and give usinfor- be ready when it's and ready." just off the highway to the ing process, which in the One of the things Whiskey folks. Donna mation on the particu- Bourbon pro ction requires the Rageth said he likes Nally called Brent andlar seed he was using use of new whit %ak charred barrels about working with Sherry Rageth "good, for corn and wheat and and aging for g minimum two years. Wyoming Whiskey is down-to-earth peoplef the particular strain The main ingredient is at least 51 per- that the business at- adding, "We're real and yields, cent corn a three-grain mash bill rangement he struck glad to be working with "It was very obvi- (recipe). Aft with the company is them and having them ous he had spent some is the American spirit. It based on a handshake grow the grain to make time with Stove Nally c - iy be made in the United States - a relationship builtour bourbon, They care to talk about the quali- of America. The new or fully matured on "honesty, trust andabout quality as muchties Wyoming Whiskey whiskey can never be filtered through is looking for in these anything that can alter the natural good faith," adding that as we do." Wyoming Whiskey Chief Operating Officer David DeFazio of Jack- son also had praise for Rageth. "Brent has been the consummate pro- grains and selected the exact corn and wheat strains that met our needs." Rageth added that See 'RAGETH,' -page 16 taste or color. In the case of Wyoming Whiskey the grains used are corn, wheat and malted barley. Some companies use rye for their flavoring grain. Wyoming Whiskey uses wheat. Barley is essen- See 'WHISKEY,' page, 16 the working relation- ship will continue "as long as I deliver a qual- ity product at a fair price." " "You don't see that very often anymore," t i i!:i:!i!iii!!iiiiiiiiiii!!ii ii : (307) east in the small town of Kirby, about 12 miles north of Thermop. Wyoming Whiskey is the brainchild of Jackson attorneys Brad Mead and David DeFazio. The two friends, though not part- ners in their law practic- es, have become partners in Wyoming's first whiskey distillery and hired master distiller Steve Nally from Kentucky to produce Wyo- ming's first premium whis- key - handcrafted bourbon -- using only ingredients from Wyoming. Two key components .of the bourbon- corn and wheat -- are grown north- west of Byron on a farm owned and operated by Brent and Sherry Rageth, fulfilling the company's dedication to use nothing but Wyoming ingredients in the production of the whiskey. In an interview last week, Brent Rageth said he bought the old John Abra- ham farm, later owned for years by Gary Petrich, nearly three years ago. He revived and expanded the farm three miles west of the Byron Cemetery, which hadn't been farmed for six or seven years, he said. He added two pivot irrigation systems to the original two, noting, "A lot of this place was sagebrush and weeds." Originally from Pine Bluffs, Wyo., Rageth has been farming for 26 years, farming initially near Pine Bluffs and for many years now near Big Springs, Neb. He heard about the avail- ability of the Byron farm and purchased it from Petrieh in January of 2008. The farm is 820 acres, and he farms 550 acres. "I heard about the place in 2005. I found it in a real estate magazine and finally came to look at it in 2007," he said. Rageth just completed his third season farming the place, growing exclu- sively wheat the first two seasons and adding corn this year for the distillery. He said he planted 220 acres of corn this year and 330 acres of wheat. Shortly after buying the Wyoming farm, Rageth heard about the distillery project through a college chum who lives in Wor- land. "They wanted to buy some wheat and I was one of the few people growing wheat in the area," Rageth said. "I introduced myself (to Steve - master distiller -- and Donna NaUy - direc, tor of public relations), and our personalities hit it off and it went from there. "We're corn farmers in Nebraska, and they asked if we could grow corn here case of Wyoming Whiskey is grown in the Riverton area and is malted in Great Falls, Mont. One of the key aspects of the whiskey is the purity of the ingredients, Rageth said. He said he uses Pio- neer corn that is specially ordered and has not been genetically altered at all. "It's hard to find corn like that in the U.S.," he said. "Most corn is Round- up ready and bio-tech toler- ant. We use conventional, non-genetically modified organism (GMO) corn that is Wyoming grown. It's just as natural as we can get it." Water for the distillery comes directly from the ar- tesian, limestone aquifer near Manderson. A GOOD MATCH Rageth said he is thrilled to be growing for Wyoming Whiskey, calling it a "match made in Heav- en." "We're really fortunate we got the opportunity," he said. "It's really going to make this farm work. I re- ally like the people. They're really good people to work with - honest and fair. The whole organization is a good organization. We're lucky we got the opportu- nity." At the same time, Wy- oming Whiskey is benefit- ting from the experience Rageth has. "They really needed someone who knew corn, and the guys I'm connect- ed to - we know corn," he said. "We plant 3,500 acres of corn and wheat in Ne- braska." Rageth grew 25,000 bushels of corn for Wyo- ming Whiskey this summer and at 1,000 bushels per truck load was on track to make 25 runs to Kirby this fall. That should be enough for a year and a half of dis- tilling, he said. He also shipped 4,000 bushels of wheat to the distillery and also helped Steve Nally with hauling the malted Barley from Great Falls. "This is good for Byron," he said. "It's good that we're growing the crop right here in Byron. You can't grow 92-day corn in Thermopo- lis. It usually freezes before it's done. "Steve and Donna (Nal- ly) have been to my house (in Nebraska) to make sure I have the wherewithal to do what I said I was going to do. Sherry and I have built a real good friendship with Steve and Donna Nal- ly." Rageth said he will plant his spring wheat around March 20 and har- vest in mid-August, not- ing, "You need to get it in