Whiskey bar

A Road Trip Explores Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey

“It’s the immortal Fourth of July; all the fountains must be flowing wine today! Melville wrote in 1851, in “Moby-Dick”. “Was it now old Orleans whisky, or old Ohio, or unspeakable old Monongahela!”

Now, after nearly a century of oblivion, Pennsylvania rye is finally making a comeback – rye whiskey is among the nation’s fastest growing spirit categories.

There is now a Whiskey Rebellion Trail, a consortium of distilleries and historic sites around the Mid-Atlantic. And this fall the giant of spirits Suntory Beam will release an Old Monongahela version of Old Overholt, a famous whiskey brand from Pennsylvania he acquired in 1987.

Old Overholt is named after Abraham Overholt, whose family founded the massive Broad Ford Distillery, but got its start at a site called West Overton, 40 miles south of Pittsburgh. Today, in a museum complex called Village of Overton WestMr. Komlenic, the whiskey expert, helps build an exhibit on the history of Pennsylvania whiskey.

West Overton Village is also getting into the whiskey business: last year Mr Komlenic oversaw the release of a very small batch of Old Monongahela, distilled and aged in one of the museum buildings. It’s spicy, earthy, and grassy — a flavor that reflects Pennsylvania’s long distilling history, and perhaps its future, too.

Mountain laurel spirits 925 Canal Street, Bristol, Pennsylvania; 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, Pennsylvania; 717-799-4499; stollandwolfe.com

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

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

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