OYO Whiskey named one of USA Network’s top foods of 2011

Middle West Spirits’ OYO Whiskey has received USA Networks’s seal of approval.

The whiskey, which debuted in March, is on the network’s list of the Top 10 Foods of 2011.

This year’s Character Approved honorees have used “everything from technology to food to music to open our eyes, bring us closer together, entertain and inspire,” according to USA.

The team at Middle West was “utterly surprised” about the recognition, says its principal and co-founder Brady Konya.

“We were thrilled to be recognized for the quality of our whiskey, and proud that USA Network considered the importance of local sourcing, not just small batch production,” he adds.

The public relations arm of Experience Columbus broke the news to Middle West.

“The team at Experience Columbus has been instrumental in helping us tell our story to a national audience,” Konya says.

Whiskey is traditionally corn, rye, and barley-based, but OYO Whiskey is made from Ohio soft red winter wheat (the key ingredient in Middle West’s flagship vodka) and barrel aged in cooperage sealed with bees wax.

“Bourbons tend to be fairly sweet and smokey, with a strong bite and a finish that lingers,” he says. “I’ve often described the Bourbon bite like a loving punch to the chest− like one you might get from your granddad. A ‘wheatie’ like our OYO whiskey, is more like a firm handshake. It’s lightly sweet with a much more accessible front end. Soft aromas of vanilla, caramel, and coconut with a creamy, minerally, medium-full body and spicy cinnamon finish.”

OYO Whiskey is a single barrel spirit, bottled at a full 92 proof, so it packs some heat for those who have a love for high proof, dark spirits.

Further, OYO Whiskey is only one of two domestically produced, all-wheat whiskeys available in the United States.

“While there is both a great tradition and appreciation for corn-based bourbon in this part of the country, we wanted to focus on producing a whiskey that had a distinctive flavor profile that set us apart from the crowded bourbon market,” Konya says. “For anyone that has visited us at Middle West, you leave knowing that Ryan and I produce spirits we love, not just what we think the market wants. First and foremost, we work hard to ensure that each product fits within our philosophy as a company and rarely focus group these assumptions.

“The focus group process itself is designed to iterate a position within an established market, not create a new one. We know that this means that most customers will either fiercely love our products or not understand them at all, and we wouldn’t want it to be any other way. Every one of our OYO products has a pretty big opinion in it and we hope folks see it as a reflection of our willingness to go against the grain across the board. Its not a product strategy. It’s core to the DNA of our company.”

And that appears to be something consumers appreciate.

“We’ve always stayed true to our core values since the day we opened our doors, and are constantly humbled by how Ohioans have embraced our company,” he says. “At the end of the day, I think people appreciate originality. They seek out authenticity and they like to experience products with stories that reflect shared values and represent a strong point of view.”

One piece of little-known trivia is that Middle West is one of the most followed craft distilleries online in the United States, second only to Tito’s Vodka (which no longer qualifies as an artisan microdistillery based on volume).

“From all our research, we believe that Middle West has the most passionate and active online community that we’ve seen in the craft distilling movement and is just another reflection of the support that Ohioans have offered in our efforts to build momentum in Ohio’s young distilling industry.”

To learn more about Middle West Spirits, visit MiddleWestSpirits.com