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A Road Trip Explores Pennsylvania’s Rye Whiskey


“Tis July’s immortal Fourth; all fountains must run wine today!” Melville wrote in 1851, in “Moby-Dick.” “Would now, it were old Orleans whiskey, or old Ohio, or unspeakable old Monongahela!”

Now, after nearly a century in oblivion, Pennsylvania rye is finally making a return — rye whiskey is among the many fastest-growing spirits categories within the country.

There’s now a Whiskey Riot Trail, a consortium of distilleries and historic sites across the Mid-Atlantic. And this fall the spirits giant Beam Suntory will release an Old Monongahela version of Old Overholt, a storied Pennsylvania whiskey brand it acquired in 1987.

Old Overholt is known as after Abraham Overholt, whose family founded the massive distillery at Broad Ford but got their start at a site called West Overton, 40 miles south of Pittsburgh. Today, at a museum complex called West Overton Village, Mr. Komlenic, the whiskey expert, helps construct out a display on the history of Pennsylvania whiskey.

West Overton Village is stepping into the whiskey business as well: Last 12 months Mr. Komlenic oversaw the discharge of a really small batch of Old Monongahela, distilled and aged in certainly one of the museum’s buildings. It’s spicy, earthy and herbaceous — a flavor that reflects Pennsylvania’s long distilling past, and possibly its future as well.

Mountain Laurel Spirits 925 Canal Street, Bristol, Pa.; 215-781-8300; dadshatrye.com

Recent Liberty Distillery 1431 Cadwallader Street, Philadelphia; 267-928-4650; newlibertydistillery.com

Stoll & Wolfe Distillery 35 North Cedar Street Rear, Lititz, Pa.; 717-799-4499; stollandwolfe.com

Mingo Creek Craft Distillers 68 West Maiden Street, Washington, Pa.; 724-503-4014; libertypolespirits.com

Wigle Whiskey 2401 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh; 412-224-2827; wiglewhiskey.com

West Overton Village 109 West Overton Road, Scottdale, Pa.; 724-887-7910; westovertonvillage.org

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