Stoll & Wolfe

Stoll & Wolfe

There are many new distilleries popping up in Pennsylvania, but none carry the Pennsylvanian distillery torch quite like Stoll and Wolfe. You see the name Stoll and Wolfe, which is named after founders of the brand, Dick Stoll and Erik Wolfe, was originally named Bomberger’s as a tribute to the old Bomberger’s Distillery (known to most as Michter’s). They planned to reopen the distillery in Lititz, PA where Mr. Dick Stoll was distiller in the 70’s. Mr. Stoll is now famous for being the man behind the famous A.H.Hirsch Reserve 16 year old bourbon that every collector longs to own. The attempt to resurrect the Bomberger’s brand was not to be, however. Michter’s brand name was already owned by Chatham Imports in Kentucky. A lawsuit kept the brand name in limbo for a...

New Distilleries in Pennsylvania

New Distilleries in Pennsylvania

The American Whiskey Convention in Philadelphia was a bit of an inspiration for me to spend a bit more time discussing the boom in whiskey distilling here in Pennsylvania.  The “White Dog Row” element of the Convention showed off 11 new make spirits from 8 different local distilleries.  White whiskey is the backbone of any distillery.  It shows the character of the grain, the flavors contributed by the yeasts and the potential of the spirit.  No amount of aging can fix a bad white whiskey foundation.  I think it was important to highlight the potential of our local distilleries through their white dogs.  It also gave a chance for the distillers and representatives from those distilleries to speak directly to the public about their work and their visions for the...

The Amazing Booker Noe

The Amazing Booker Noe

  I can’t stress this enough.  Booker Noe was an incredible man. The titans that paved the way for the modern bourbon age that we find ourselves in were not CEOs or marketing strategists.  They were country boys with a love for bourbon.  Before Prohibition, wealthy tycoons like Colonel Blanton, Colonel E.H.Taylor, Isaac Wolfe Bernheim and Samuel Bronfman led the way.  After the bourbon collapse of the brown spirits market in the 60’s and 70’s, it was largely the perseverance of a few (now legendary) Kentucky distillers that brought bourbon back.  Booker Noe was one of those men. Frederick Booker Noe II was the grandson of the famous Jim Beam.  He was born in 1929 and was the son of Jim Beam’s daughter, Margaret Noe.  Booker began helping at the distillery as...

What is a Cooper?

What is a Cooper?

What is a cooper?  Seems there are many children with the name Cooper, but not a whole lot of actual coopers out there. Traditionally, a cooper was the man that made barrels, or staved vessels.  A stave is a length of wood, usually cut from the center of a tree trunk, that is cut into a plank (think 1×3”-1×4” wood planks at Home Depot).  Anything a cooper produces is referred to as cooperage.  The facility where casks or barrels are made is also called a cooperage.  The cooperage produced necessary storage vessels for their communities and often the cooper was needed aboard ships and by the military. A “tight” cooper, historically, made barrels that held liquid.  White oak is the only wood that successfully holds water and other liquids due to the...

Pennsylvania and Its Whiskey Rebellion

Pennsylvania and Its Whiskey Rebellion

With the American Whiskey Convention coming to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s whiskey history has been on the brain.  Our most famous Pennsylvanian claim to historic infamy is the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. After the Revolutionary War, the newly formed United States were in a great deal of debt.  Alexander Hamilton estimated that debt to be around $54 million.  Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury during George Washington’s presidency and he proposed the taxation of alcohol to pay off the country’s looming debt.  The tax called for 11 cents per gallon of spirits.  (To think that that amount of money could pay off that huge debt in a few years just goes to show how much Americans were drinking at the time.)  In 1791, Washington and his new government began to...

Whiskey and Nascar

Whiskey and Nascar

I’m from the northeast and was not really aware of Nascar until my teenage years because it just wasn’t really watched by anyone I knew.  I couldn’t understand what made it such a big deal until I learned to drive and realized very quickly that going fast wasn’t easy. I remember reading in high school that Prohibition and moonshining were big influences on racecar driving.  Of course, I also learned that the first car race was in 1895 in Chicago…so basically the minute that an engine was mounted to a carriage, racing them was the obvious next step.  The every man’s car, Ford’s model T, rolled off the lines a little over a decade later.  It was the first time that normal folks could afford to own a car, and they began to tinker with them and figure out how every...

What is a Sour Mash Whiskey?

What is a Sour Mash Whiskey?

So what is sour mash whiskey anyway? The term sour mash gets thrown around a lot, but it’s really just a technique used in making whiskey.  It is not particular to any one brand of whiskey.  In fact, most whiskeys are made using this technique. Before you can distill, you have to make the alcohol.  Distillation is just the process of removing and refining the alcohol that yeasts produce in the fermentation process beforehand.   The whole reason that distillers are so concerned with quality of grain is because they want their yeasts to have the best grains that can produce the best food for them to “eat”.  The distiller cooks those grains in a big pot called a mashtun to create a delicious, warm, sugary mash for their yeasts to feast upon.  Those yeasts, when not...

Who Was Old Rip Van Winkle?

Who Was Old Rip Van Winkle?

Who was Old Rip Van Winkle anyway? I mentioned in yesterday’s post that much of what we imagine to be old Christmas traditions were reimagined and made beautifully nostalgic by writers like Charles Dickens and Washington Irving.  Washington Irving was an American author, historian and diplomat from the early 19th century.  He wrote some of our culture’s favorite stories like “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.”  It is the Rip Van Winkle story that I find so compelling- especially with that famous whiskey brand being so coveted… The story of Rip Van Winkle is about a man that lived in the Hudson Valley near the Catskill Mountains of New York.  Van Winkle lived in America while the British were still running the show.  He lived in a small town and...