5th generation farmer grows whiskey

Colby Frey’s family has been farming in the high desert area of Nevada since 1854. That’s over 165 years of knowledge on how to grow grain crops and alfalfa in their specific soil types and climate.

Maintaining a lucrative business as a farmer is challenging, so Colby says his dedication to the family legacy inspired him and his wife Ashley to add whiskey distilling to the mix using their own wheat, rye, barley, and corn. Growing grain for spirits is different than for say, cattle consumption.

"The more nitrogen typically you put on the more yield you get with a traditional grain crop. But nitrogen boosts protein in grain, and protein and starch are an inverse – when one goes up, the other one goes down. And so, by putting a lot of nitrogen fertilizer we might boost our crop, but the starch content is going to be lower, the protein will be higher, and that’s bad for the distillery," says Frey. "We’re actually converting the starch in the grain to sugar, which gets converted into alcohol during the fermentation process."

The Frey Ranch Bourbon Whiskey has received much acclaim from spirits reviewers and whiskey lovers. But Colby says he’s a farmer first.

"Without the farm we wouldn’t have the distillery. Our whole goal is to take the grains that we’re growing and making a world-class whiskey out of them. Most distilleries, and there’s nothing wrong with it, buy their grains on the open market, and that’s just not who we are," he says. "Our whole goal is to showcase the grains."

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