“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 fastest-growing spirits categories in the country.
There is now a Whiskey Rebellion Trail, a consortium of distilleries and historic sites around 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 named after Abraham Overholt, whose family founded the huge 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, is helping build out a display on the history of Pennsylvania whiskey.
West Overton Village is getting into the whiskey business as well: Last year Mr. Komlenic oversaw the release of a very small batch of Old Monongahela, distilled and aged in 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.
If You Go …
Mountain Laurel Spirits 925 Canal Street, Bristol, Pa.; 215-781-8300; dadshatrye.com
New 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