Stein’s ‘Rodeo’ whiskey rolls out

Steve Tool/Chieftain Dan Stein, Stein Distillery master distiller and vice-president, holds a bottle of the company's latest elixir, offered as a blended whiskey simply named “Rodeo” in honor of the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo.

Local whiskey aficionados can rejoice as Joseph’s Stein Distillery celebrated the 70th annual Chief Joseph Days Rodeo with the unveiling of a brand new blended whiskey called “Rodeo.” The unveiling of the whiskey took place at the CJD sponsors dinner held July 22.

Dan Stein, vice-president and master distiller of Stein, is pleased with the new offering. “It’s a two-year blended whiskey, a blend of rye, corn and barley. It’s been distilled and aged as a single-grain.” He added that blended whiskey has to have at least three separate barrels to be considered as a blend.

This makes “Rodeo” a whiskey similar in composition, though not necessarily in flavor, to such blended Canadian staples as Crown Royal or Pendleton. Stein said those whiskeys probably put four grains in their blends, which he intends to do eventually. Stein himself raises all the grains used in his whiskeys except for corn, which is grown in Hermiston. His aged wheat is currently slated for the manufacture of Hamley’s Wheat Whiskey, something Stein distills for the famous Pendleton restaurant and saloon. He added that he will probably make a four-grain “Rodeo” blend next year.

Word about the new whiskey had already gotten around the community, and several customers bought bottles from Stein during the interview.

The distillery started on the new whiskey idea about three months ago. “The board of directors from the rodeo approached us about doing a whiskey for them. We got the label design and sent it in to Washington, D.C., for approval, and that took over two months. We got the label approval last Thursday (July 17), got the labels on Friday and started bottling on Saturday,” Stein said.

The unveiling of the whiskey at the CJD sponsors event proved an enormous success with bottles number 1 and 70 of the initial 70-bottle run drawing a whopping $350 and $450 respectively.

Stein said that after a temporary slump, whiskeys are making a comeback, and new whiskeys in particular are proving very popular. Stein emphasized that this whiskey is not a one-time bottling and will be available in the future.

The whiskey was headed for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission warehouse on July 27, and from there it will be available throughout the state. Locally, it is available at the distillery as well as both the Joseph and Enterprise liquor stores. At the time this article was being written, bottles 13-69 of the initial bottling were still available.

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