Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Aug 10 2016

Craft Distilleries Revive Pennsylvania's Pre-Prohibition Tradition

After A Nearly 100-Year Absence, Small-Batch Distilling Has Returned To The Philadelphia Area

In just over four years, the number of craft distilleries in the Philadelphia region has increased by more than a dozen, helping to restore Pennsylvania to its once-prominent place in the national distilling conversation. Until Prohibition wiped out the state’s industry, Pennsylvania housed the country’s densest cluster of homespun and commercial whiskey producers, beginning with some of the country’s earliest settlers.

In 2011, Pennsylvania’s government passed reforms that allowed distillers to offer tours, samples and onsite sales. These new laws opened up the craft to would-be distillers who now proudly produce and sell small-batch spirits in Philadelphia. In a sign of the industry’s maturation, the Philadelphia Distillery Trail keeps a running tally and map of the select regional makers, to ease visitation (and sampling).

Here’s a look at some of the region’s distilling pioneers:

Distilleries Open To The Public:
Philadelphia:

  • Approximately a decade after opening as Pennsylvania’s first craft distillery since Prohibition, Philadelphia Distilling relocated to a larger and more visitor-friendly facility in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood. The makers of Bluecoat American Dry Gin, Blue Coat Barrel-Finished Gin, Vieux Carré Absinthe, Penn 1681 Vodka and THE BAY Seasoned Vodka (seasoned with traditional Chesapeake Bay seasonings) offer a full bar and restaurant with an outdoor patio, bottle shop and retail store. 1000 Frankford Avenue, (215) 671-0346, philadelphiadistilling.com
  • Manayunk’s W.P. Palmer Distilling Co. takes an historical approach to its sole spirit. Handcrafted in a copper-pot still, Palmer’s Liberty Gin uses a traditional 18th-century Dutch recipe that calls for rich botanicals, citrus and spices. 376 Shurs Lane, Building A, (215) 588-5108, palmerdistilling.com
  • Past the fresh-baked breads and fragrant coffees at La Colombe’s Fishtown cafe is the La Colombe Distillery, a glassed-in room that houses a 450-liter antique copper still. It’s here where the Philly-based coffee roaster distills its Different Drum Pennsylvania Rum, a sipping rum infused with coffee. The shop sells it by the glass and by the bottle, and during weekday happy hours, all draft beers, rum drinks and cocktails sell for half-price. 1335 Frankford Avenue, (267) 479-1600, lacolombe.com
  • Named the Pennsylvania Whiskey Distillery of the Year for 2015 at the New York International Spirits Competition, Kensington’s New Liberty Distillery offers tours of its rustic circa 1906 horse stables space on Saturdays and Sundays. Afterwards, guests are encouraged to head to the third-floor bar and lounge for a tasting, an expertly prepared whiskey cocktail—or both. Crane Arts, 1431 N. Cadwallader Street, (800) 996-0595, newlibertydistillery.com
  • A visit to Rowhouse Spirits gives a glimpse of the evolution of the modern American craft movement—from craft beer to craft spirits. Rowhouse owner Dean Browne works out of a tiny shed on the property of Philadelphia Brewing Company, where he worked for years as a brewer. Currently, Browne produces very small batch gin (lauded by Philadelphia magazine as “Best of Philadelphia” in 2016), traditionally Scandinavian Nordic Akvavit, Poitín Irish-style moonshine made from 100% barley malts and Bear Trap herbal liqueur, which tastes like anise and is made from 19 fresh organic botanicals. Browne also offers rum and barrel-aged spirits. Tours of the 1,200-square-foot space take place Thursday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. 2440 Frankford Avenue, (267) 825-7332, rowhousespirits.us
  • The Kensington neighborhood’s Federal Distilling specializes in the clear nectar of the gods. A tribute to the rich history of Philadelphia, their signature Stateside Urbancraft Vodka is the main attraction. Tours and tastings are available Thursday through Saturday. 1700 N. Hancock Street, statesidevodka.com
  • Founded with a successful crowd-funding campaign, Kensington’s Red Brick Craft Distillery produces two small-batch whiskeys and Simple Shine, a clear sugar wash rum. Tours and tastings take place weekends by reservation from 1 to 6 p.m. 2628 Martha Street, (267) 603-3790, redbrickcraftdistillery.com

Bucks County:

  • Located next to the Bucks County Brewery, Hewn Spirits differentiates itself in part by collaborating closely with its brewing neighbor and sharing its used barrels for aging. Owner Sean Tracy, who has spent 25 years restoring and converting early-American barns into custom homes, experiments with aging his whiskey in rare and sometimes extinct types of wood. He also incorporates grains grown less than 10 miles away and milled in a working 19th-century gristmill. The public can visit on Friday and Saturday nights and tour by appointment. 31 Appletree Lane, Pipersville, (215) 766-7711, hewnspirits.com
  • Named after owner Herman Mihalich’s father’s favored fashion accessory, Mountain Laurel Spirits’ Dad’s Hat rye whiskeys carry a strong sense of history. Mihalich uses a recipe that harkens to the 18th-century days when Pennsylvania farmers used their surplus rye grain to distill the homemade whiskey that later turned the state into the world’s chief producer of this type of spirit. Most Saturday afternoons, visitors can get a lesson in the modern and historical production methods from Mihalich or business partner John Cooper, and then sample the final product. Reservations required. 925 Canal Street, Building #4, Bristol, (215) 781-8300, dadshatrye.com

Chester County:

  • Historical records suggest that Bluebird Distilling is Chester County’s first post-Prohibition distillery. Bluebird uses all natural ingredients to produce its broad selection of products, including white whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, plus four-grain bourbon and rye. That wholesome ethos extends to the self-proclaimed “urban steampunk” saloon, where bartenders mix cocktails with fresh-squeezed juices and ingredients made from scratch. 100 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, (610) 933-7827, bluebirddistilling.com

Montgomery County:

  • Manatawny Still Works operates out of a modern facility, but its owners base their practices on “old world production with a reverent nod to the history of the region.” The nearby Manatawny Creek, named by the Lenape Indians as “the place we meet to drink,” lends the distillery its name. Tri-weekly tours end in the bar, where visitors sample cocktails made with Odd Fellows No. 214 Gin, J. Potts Whiskey and other small-batch whiskeys, T. Rutter Rum and Three Bitches Wheat Vodka in a setting filled with preserved antique items. In September 2016, Manatawny plans to open a tasting room and bottle shop on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia. 320 Circle of Progress Drive, #104, Pottstown, (484) 624-8271, manatawnystillworks.com
  • Producing spirits under the brand name Fortis, Midnight Madness Distilling sticks to the basics: vodka, rum and gin. According to the Midnight Madness team, Fortis is made for the regulars at the “bar down the street.” 2300 Trumbauersville Road, Quakertown, (215) 268-6071, fortisspirits.com
  • Named after his father and the four men who served as father figures to founder John George after his own dad passed away, Five Saints Distilling and International Spirits opened its doors in autumn 2015 in the Historic Humane Engine #1 Firehouse. Doubling as both a firehouse museum and distillery that specializes in premium spirits, including gin, vodka, whiskey (including bourbon) and orangecello, Five Saints offers tours, tastings, retail and events. 129 E. Main Street, Norristown, fivesaintsdistilling.com
  • Corporate émigré siblings recently founded Boardroom Spirits Distillery by tapping the talents of Hungarian Master Distiller Attila Kovacs. The distillery uses natural ingredients and not-yet-mainstream technology to produce five varieties of whiskey, rum, gin, brandy and vegetable-based specialty spirits. For the vodka lover, Boardroom offers both a double gold medal award-winning regular vodka, as well as “fresh vodka” infused with real cranberry or citrus, along with other seasonal small-batch releases. Tours are offered on weekends, at 1 and 5 p.m. In addition, local food trucks help tasters hold their liquor on Foodie Fridays. 575 W. 3rd Street, Lansdale, (267) 642-9961, boardroomspirits.com

South Jersey:

  • Kentucky-bred Cooper River Distillers owner James Yoakum comes from a background that breeds many of the region’s micro-distillers: home brewing. Yoakum home brewed for years before deciding to open what may be Camden, New Jersey’s first-ever distillery. Distilling rum, rye whiskey, brandy and soon-to-be-released bourbon out of a handmade copper still in a garage, Yoakum opens to the public every Friday, 4 to 8 p.m., Saturday, 1 to 8 p.m. and during special events to show visitors around and sell them bottles and cocktails. 34 N. 4th Street, Camden, NJ, (856) 295-1273, cooperriverdistillers.com

Distillery With Off-Site Tasting Room:

  • Launched as a distraction for a mother grieving her deceased son, Naoj & Mot distillery has been producing the Pollyodd line of Italian liqueurs since 2012. Though the distillery itself is closed to the public, Joan Verratti, the state’s first licensed female distiller, runs a tasting room where she pours five natural cream-based and five water-based spirits like Limoncello using locally sourced ingredients. 1908 East Passyunk Avenue, (215) 271-1161, pollyodd.com

 

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.
 

Contact(s):
  • E-mail

Related Releases

Btn_espanol

En Español

May 15 2017

Beer Gardens & Outdoor Drinking Spaces Bloom In Philly

A Sudsy Summer Awaits, Thanks To Pop-Up & Permanent Beer Gardens

Philadelphia has become a major hotspot for beer lovers (and food and wine lovers, for that matter) to drink outdoors, where beer gardens of the permanent and pop-up variety have sprung up all over the city and the surrounding suburbs. Summer staples such as Spruce Street Harbor Park, Independence Beer Garden and others have seen friendly competition from outdoor spaces at Evil Genius, the Philadelphia Zoo and others in recent years, and 2017 will be no different. Here are some of Philadelphia’s best places for drinking outdoors at parks, patios, porches, decks and docks:

Center City:

  • Drury Beer Garden
...
Apr 24 2017

Philly Tours Explore History, Art, Food, Bridges & the Supernatural

Also Explore The Region By Foot, Trolley, Horse Or Smartphone

Visitors to Philadelphia can choose from an assortment of options to explore the region, including those of the air, automotive, audio, culinary, self-guided and water-based varieties. And the sightseeing fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Those who come out at night can join tours that feature behind-the-scenes action and, if so desired, spirits from beyond. Here’s a selection of tours available throughout the region:

History Lessons By Day & Night:

  • Bow Tie Tours – Learning about Philadelphia’s—and America’s—history through the true tales of real-life characters who walked the city’s streets is the secret to the success of
...
Feb 1 2017

What's In The Fishtown Neighborhood?

Restaurants, Bars, Breweries, Cafes, Performing And Visual Arts, Shopping And More

Like its hip neighbor Northern Liberties, Fishtown has quickly become one of the coolest sections of Philadelphia, thanks to an influx of quality restaurants, inventive bars, impressive music venues and forward-thinking art galleries.

Philadelphians have found new and innovative uses for Fishtown ever since William Penn made peace with the Lenape Indians in what’s now Penn Treaty Park. It’s the only place in the city where, in the same evening, someone can buy a custom-made guitar, drink craft beer while playing Tetris, eat stellar Yugoslavian food, sample Philly-made craft whiskeys and visit the world’s only pizza museum. Fishtown’s Frankford Avenue

...
Jan 5 2017

What's In The East Passyunk & Pennsport Neighborhoods?

Restaurants, Bars, Cafes, Shops, Parks And More

For decades, insiders have headed to South Philadelphia—particularly the neighborhoods east of Broad Street, for the red-gravy Italian restaurants. Today, the area around East Passyunk Avenue—a diagonal interruption to Philadelphia’s grid layout—has enjoyed much revitalization. This is especially so on the food front, with many new eateries earning enormous acclaim from Bon Appétit, The New York Times, Travel & Leisure and more.

Visitors who stroll down Passyunk (pronounced “pashunk” by old-timers) find boutiques, coffee shops, gastropubs, excellent Malaysian, French, Mexican and Filipino fare, as well as the ristoranti (Marra’s, Victor Café, Mr. Martino’s, Tre Scalini) that first made this street

...
Nov 18 2016

What's in the Washington Square West Neighborhood?

Restaurants, Cafes, Shops, Theaters and More

Washington Square West is a historic Center City neighborhood comprising a 17th-century park, the vibrant enclaves of Midtown Village, the Gayborhood and lots more.

Named “Southeast Square” in 1682, Washington Square once served as a grazing pasture and potter’s field on the edge of the original city of Philadelphia. Today, modern residences surround the park, home to the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier, a sycamore moon tree and a steady stream of visitors. To Washington Square’s north are the nearly 300 jewelry merchants of Jewelers’ Row. And to its south is Antique Row, tree-lined blocks of

...
Nov 16 2016

What's In the Chestnut Hill, Germantown & Mount Airy Neighborhoods?

Restaurants, Cafes, Markets, Shops, Arts and Attractions

Diverse and historic, Chestnut Hill, Germantown and Mount Airy are urban neighborhoods in northwest Philadelphia. Each enclave has a distinctive style, feel and highlights that represent the communities’ past and present. All are worth day trips, and fortunately, getting there is a cinch via SEPTA, Philadelphia’s public transportation system. Check bus and regional rail schedules at septa.org before heading off to explore these vibrant neighborhoods.

Chestnut Hill (via the Chestnut Hill East/West train lines or the #23 Bus):
With a higher elevation than the rest of the city, Chestnut Hill, a National Register Historic District, was once a vacation

...
Nov 8 2016

What's In The Fairmount & Spring Garden Neighborhoods

Restaurants, Bars, Cafes, Outdoors & Arts In Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square Neighborhood

Because of their proximity to the renowned arts and cultural institutions along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s Fairmount and Spring Garden neighborhoods are often referred to as the “Art Museum area.” But the personalities of these historic, laid-back, diverse communities are distinct in their own right.

Fairmount stands on its own as a destination in Philadelphia. The residential neighborhood is considered a sort of urban suburb, thanks to friendly residents and atmosphere. What’s a visitor to do here? Eat, drink and tour the former prison-turned-museum, Eastern State Penitentiary.

Wedged between the cultural powerhouses of the Parkway and better-known Fairmount, Spring

...
Aug 11 2016

Graduate Hospital

What's In The Neighborhood

Graduate Hospital goes by many names (Center City South, South of South, G-Ho), which is fitting for a neighborhood that draws its personality from the people inside it: young transplants, born-and-raised neighbors, hip urban professionals, craft beer crowds and more. In recent years, the area stretching from Lombard Street to Washington Avenue and from Broad Street to Gray’s Ferry Avenue has accumulated a healthy dose of restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and markets that reflect the area’s residential and cool vibe.

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) has picked this ’hood for its summertime PHS Pop Up Garden three years in a

...
Aug 10 2016

South Street

What's In The Neighborhood

Long known as the edgiest street in Philadelphia, South Street welcomes more than just hippies these days. Shoppers searching for a statement-making look, visitors hungry for a real Philly cheesesteak and music lovers who want to catch an up-and-coming band head to the storied boulevard. Also lining South are ethnically diverse restaurants, bars that keep the party going long after dessert, galleries and performance spaces.

Over the past decade, the development of South Street’s east side has spread west of Broad Street, but the traditional definition of the district (depending on who you ask) spans up to 14 blocks: Front

...