The Pennsylvania Spirits Convention on March 23, 2017!

The Pennsylvania Spirits Convention on March 23, 2017!

The Pennsylvania Spirits revolution is in full swing. Pennsylvania is coming into its own again as a distilling state producing world renowned spirits. Combine that with some of the best bartenders in the country making their own signature cocktails from these PA spirits and you have the Pennsylvania Spirits Convention. The Pennsylvania Spirits Convention is the first and largest event of its kind.  It pays respect not only to Pennsylvania’s legendary distilling past, but also to its future.  Every spirit at the event is made in Pennsylvania. Guests will be amazed at the quality and selection that is arising from the Pennsylvania talented distillers. This grand event comes to Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park on March 23rd. It will be host over 110 craft spirits,...

Meadow Brook Farms in Lehigh County

Meadow Brook Farms in Lehigh County

“To be interested in food and not food production is clearly absurd.” -Wendell Berry I believe the same can be said of whiskey and grain production. I had an opportunity to meet with Nevada Mease, a young, entrepreneurial Lehigh Valley farmer back in September, 2016.  I was incredibly impressed with the farm and all the efforts on behalf of Meadow Brook Farms to embrace new, organic practices in their farming. The farm itself is beautiful and nestled into wooded acreage along the outskirts of the property. It’s built into the side of a hill with the barn and storage facilities higher up above the stone farm house.  Animals were grazing in the fields, and Nevada was making plans to get his winter crops laid down in the fields. Meadow Brook Farm is one...

Philadelphia Distilling- Before the Big Move

Philadelphia Distilling- Before the Big Move

Though many Philadelphians are aware of this, Philadelphia Distilling is moving.  They have been happily nestled in an industrial park on McNulty Rd. in the Byberry neighborhood of Philadelphia since 2005, and now they will be moving their base of operations to a more central location- the Fillmore.  This newly opened music venue is very visible from I-95. The new headquarters will have a tasting room, event space, retail shop, an 80-seat restaurant, 80-seat outdoor patio and cocktail bar.  My interest is not yet in the new location yet, because the roots of the distillery’s history are in Byberry…and the business is still located there…for the time being. I stopped by their McNulty Rd. location last month to pay some respect to the first Pennsylvania distillery...

Conneaut Cellars Distillery in the Northwest of PA

Conneaut Cellars Distillery in the Northwest of PA

About an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh is the busy tourist destination town of Conneaut (Con-ee- ought) Lake.  The lake is full of sailboats and the roads are full of trucks with trailers in tow and SUV’s full of families.  I pulled into Conneaut Lake on Sunday morning looking for a good distillery. Conneaut Cellars Winery was already busy offering wine tastings to tourists when I stopped in looking for Joal Wolf.  Joal is the son of Alan and Phyllis Wolf, the original owners and proprietors of the winery, and learned his wine craft from his father.  Joal’s father, Dr. Alan Wolf, learned a great deal about wine in the 50’s while he was stationed in Germany as an American state department representative.  Those skills were refined back in the U.S. in the...

Visit to CJ Spirits in Kane, Pa

Visit to CJ Spirits in Kane, Pa

Sometimes the long drive between two Pennsylvania distilleries can take you on an unexpected route. I wound my way through northwest Pennsylvania between Conneaut Lake and Kane on very isolated (and sometimes dirt) roadways past Pennsylvania Dutch settlements. I’m from the eastern part of the state where Lancaster and the surrounding countryside is home to many PA Dutch towns and villages. I was taken by surprise to see young ladies and children walking their bikes up steep hills with their packages only to ride them down the other side on these western roads. Views of farmsteads and front yards filled with families meeting for picnics and brimmed hat and bonnet wearing parents pushing small children in strollers up long winding roads made for a slow trip. I...

The New Relationship Between Farmer and Distiller

The New Relationship Between Farmer and Distiller

The modern distilling boom is creating a unique opportunity for farmers and businesses involved in grain production. In Pennsylvania, distilling is growing by leaps and bounds, but the raw material for making whiskey is grain and many distillers just don’t know much about it. They know they want rye for rye whiskey, for instance, but where are they supposed to get it? What is the difference between Danko and Aroostok? Is it non-GMO? Do I buy it directly from a farmer or a grain merchant? It’s not just the distillers, either. The farmers are also beginning to see a demand for small grains, but don’t quite know how to approach distillers. I’ve been learning a lot about  just how much of Pennsylvania’s distilling tradition has been lost. Pennsylvania was once a huge...

Autumn and Five Saints Distilling

Autumn and Five Saints Distilling

I’ve been out visiting distilleries throughout the summer, but I have no intention of stopping now that autumn is here. The cooler temperatures remind us that whiskey and spirits are warming and satisfying this time of year. It isn’t just good for the whiskey drinkers, it’s also a productive time of year for farmers and distillers. Rye, winter wheat, and barley are go into the ground in September. Small grains, which are necessities in the creation of whiskey, need the short growth spurt in late September and October to establish themselves and anchor the soil (reducing erosion) before the frost causes the plants to go dormant. (They will return in full force in the spring for harvest in the summer.) The distillers are welcoming the lower temperatures that help...