2020 Pennsylvania Winners at the American Craft Spirits Association Awards

American Craft Spirits Awards | Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards
Wigle Saffron Amaro - Best in Category for Specialty Spirit
Wigle Saffron Amaro – Best in Category for Specialty Spirit

On Monday night, The American Craft Spirits Association virtually hosted their annual awards banquet. 152 distillers across the United States, as well as the Caribbean and Central America, submitted entries to be judged. Pennsylvania historically does very well and is the case again this evening as Pittsburgh’s Wigle Whiskey took home a boatload of awards (20 in total) including the Best in Specialty Spirits award for their Saffron Amaro.

Pennsylvania did well as a state again, by our count, ten distilleries combined to win 40 awards.

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PA Looks To Continue American Craft Spirits Medal Run

ACSA - The Show Must Go On

With the Conavid-19 pandemic changing our ways of life, the American Craft Spirits Association postponed its 2020 conference that was supposed to be happening now in Portland, Oregon. But they have decided that the awards show must go on. The American Craft Spirits Association is the only national organization of craft distillers governed by craft distillers and winning an award at its annual event is a big deal for distillers, equivalent to a brewer bringing home an award from the Great American Beer Fest held annually in Denver.

The ACSA will be announcing its 2020 award winners via a virtual awards show tonight, Monday, March 30th at 8 pm Eastern time. Sign up to reserve a spot or follow @Pennsy_Local on Twitter where we will be sharing live updates.

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PA Distillers Making Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer Made by Maggie's Farm and donated to Pittsburgh Health Dept.

Even before the Federal Government gave them the green light, several Pennsylvania distillers were moving from spirits production to making hand sanitizer, a suddenly in demand product that even hospitals are openly requesting.

Among the first was Lehigh Valley’s Eight Oaks Distilery. The switch has even been documented by the Associated Press and Popular Mechanics.

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Manatawny Releases Collaboration with Sly Fox Brewing

Manatawny Still Works Releases Nihilist Stout Whiskey

Pottstown’s Manatawny Still Works is partnering up with its Circle of Progress neighbor, Sly Fox Brewery to release a new whiskey. The whiskey starts with Sly Fox’s Nihilist Stout without the hops. It is then distilled and aged for more than three years in American oak. The whiskey is described as having notes of coffee and sweet malt.

500 bottles will be available for $45 per 750 ml bottle. The distillery is hosting a kickoff event on Sunday, March 8th and its Passyunk Tasting Room at noon. In addition to bottles for sale there will also be tastings and cocktails plus baked goods by Philadelphia chef Monica Glass that will be featuring the whiskey.

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Wigle’s Leap Year Whiskey

While looking through its inventory, Pittsburgh’s Wigle Whiskey realized one of the barrels would be turning 4 this Leap Day. And of course they couldn’t resist turning the barrel into a Deep Cut, Bottled in Bond release.

The 100 proof whiskey is aged 4 years and has a mash bill of 64% rye and 36% malted barley. Wigle describes the whiskey as having “delicious notes of dark cherry, pepper up front and brown sugar on the finish.” Just 200 bottles of the whiskey will be available. Get your bottle at Wigle’s Ross Park Mall location or at the distillery on the 29th. The mall has the additional benefit cupcakes “baked with a prize” by Sinful Sweets in Pittsburgh.

A small number of bottles are also available for pre-order through Wigle’s website.

Philadelphia Distilling Ramping Up Whiskey Production

Philadelphia Distilling is known for its Bluecoat Gin but it has been dabbling in whiskey production with its occasional Tough Broad Whiskey made in collaboration with Yards Brewing Co.

But in a recent newsletter, the Philadelphia distiller has made note that the first quarter of 2020 is going to be about whiskey production. Philadelphia Distilling will be using 100% local grains for their malt and rye whiskeys.

Be patient though, the whiskey won’t be ready till 2025.

Stoll & Wolfe Brings Rosen Rye Back from the Brink

Stoll & Wolfe Rosen Rye

Litiz, PA distiller Stoll & Wolfe has just announced a lottery to purchase the first 60 bottles of its Rosen Rye. The first PA produced Rosen Rye to be released in nearly three decades.

Rosen Rye is a heritage grain that had fallen out of use but was once a staple at the old Michter’s Distillery in Pennsylvania. Master distiller Dick Stoll may have been the last man to distill from the grain from before Michters closed its distillery in 1990. Now with the help of Laura Fields and her SeedSpark Campaign, the grain has found its way into Stoll & Wolfe’s latest whiskey.

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Two February Whiskey Releases for County Seat Spirits

It’s been a quiet start to 2020 in spirit releases. Expect to see that change shortly. In particular at Lehigh Valley’s County Seat Spirits. On Saturday, February 22nd, the distillery is releasing its Maple Rye. It’s their 100% rye whiskey with organic maple syrup added for a smooth and sweet finish. The whiskey is bottled at 85 proof and 375 ml bottles will be available for $25. The release will be available at 1 pm at both County Seat’s Easton location (Simon Silk Mill) and in Allentown (Bridgeworks Enterprise Center).

And that’s not all County Seat has planned for February. On Saturday, February 29th, they will be releasing their latest batch of Beer Barrel Bourbon. This bourbon was aged 17 months in new charred whiskey barrels before being aged for an additional two-plus years in Hijinx Brewing Company’s Dolle Strecken beer barrels. The result is described as giving the whiskey a “smooth and unique malty finish.” The bourbon will be on sale for $42 per 750 ml bottle.

All PA Federal Legislators Support Craft Beverage Modernization

This week representative Fred Keller joined his fellow Pennsylvania lawmakers in supporting making the Craft Beverage Modernization Act (FET bill) a permanent law.

With Keller’s endorsement of the act, one hundred percent of Pennsylvania’s Senators and Representatives are cosponsors of the Craft Beverage Modernization Act.

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Last Frankford Ave Run for Rowhouse Distilling

Dean Browne at his Frankford Avenue distillery
Dean Browne in 2015 at his Frankford Avenue distillery

Dean Browne of Rowhouse Spirits posted a video on his personal Facebook page of the last distilling run he’s doing at his Frankford Avenue distillery in Philadelphia. In the comments Browne says he’s moving because he needs more space, but it doesn’t appear he’s exactly certain where he will land.

The distillery began as an idea in Browne’s head in the mid 2010s and was federally and state licensed by 2014. Since then Browne has specialized in small batch spirits including gin, herbacious spirits, brandy and whisk(e)y.

Stay tuned for more details.