7 January 2019

Whisky Insiders Interview - David DeFazio

Wyoming Whiskey



How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
Since June of 2006, when my partners and I decided to build a distillery in Kirby, Wyoming.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
There have been two. The first was when our Barrel Strength Bourbon was named one of the top 10 whiskies in the world. The second was when we entered into a strategic partnership with Edrington this September. It is an honour to be selected as the American whiskey company that they believed would best compliment their world-class family of whiskies.
Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
I wouldn’t have called it a dram at the time, but my dad introduced me to Elijah Craig 18 when I was in law school. It was the first whiskey that I sipped and enjoyed the flavour profile, instead of shooting it while drinking beer with friends. That opened my eyes to what whiskey, and bourbon in particular, could be.
What does whisky mean to you?
Whisky has meant a number of different things over the years. There are so many different layers to it that it’s hard to make one simple statement. But I suppose it means showing the world how great the craft whisky category can be by building a product from the ground up, using locally-grown grains, and working every day to improve the quality of our products. The more refinements that we put into each bottle results in an increasingly complex and versatile spirit that stands alone in a confused landscape of options. I have always been competitive and whiskey is a way to channel that drive. 

Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
I would like to see our entire line of whiskies referred to as the best bourbons and American whiskies in the market with a global presence.
What was your last dram?
I enjoyed a glass of our Single Barrel Bourbon with my father last night. Single Barrel is a very limited release each fall that represents the top 1% of the barrels that we harvest each year. It’s rich, complex, and smooth as hell.
Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I don’t. I generally don’t drink whiskey with a meal. I prefer to have a cocktail before dinner or a glass of whiskey after a meal, but not while I eat.
What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
Sipping on a glass of whisky, over a couple of rocks, at the lodge after a day of fly fishing with friends.
What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
While new products will continue to hit the shelf, I think we will see some contraction. It’s tough to remain relevant with so many options available to consumers unless your product is exceptional and generates a following. Small whisky brands don’t receive the same attention from distributors as well-established brands, nor do they generally have the financial resources necessary to effectively market their products. It’s unfortunate, but a reality. Trust me, Wyoming Whiskey has felt all of the growing pains. But after the contraction I think you will see a stronger, but narrower, craft whiskey shelf.
What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
There is no such thing!

Many thanks to David DeFazio. Who will be our next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!