By Randall H. Borkus
The city of Pottstown is nestled in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, home to important historical communities of the Revolution, the Civil War, and our nation’s industrialization. Also snuggled in this sleepy little city is a relatively new distillery, known as Manatawny Still Works.
The Manatawny Still Works is located just off the Schuylkill River, which cuts through a beautiful countryside that has become home to a winery, a brewery and, now, a distillery. Suitably it was first named by the Lenape Indians Man’en’tau’wata’wik, “the place we meet to drink.” They host a lineup of unaged whiskey, rum, gin and vodka, as well as an aged, “brown” whiskeys, rum and gin. I had the pleasure of sampling their Keystone Whiskey.
Keystone Whiskey is a malt-heavy, four-grain whiskey, from a mash bill consisting of the aforementioned malt, wheat, oats and rye, aged in American oak for 12 to 25 months, and it is bottled at 90 proof.
The color is a medium shade of amber, and the juice appears a bit thin, but then the legs surprised me. The nose is heavy oat and malt with a slight sweetness from the wheat that begs for me to charge on and explore further.
The mouthfeel is a bit thin, yet the flavor further surprised me with notes of maple syrup, cinnamon, spice and an upsurge of grape and more malted barley on the second and third sips. As I sat with the finish, I was met with a distinct hint of pepper from the rye, while the flavors continued to impart malt, cinnamon, and multiple grains as would be expected. What is really interesting is there is also a hint of cereal in the back of the mouth, which must be the oats.
Overall, this is young, but semi-complex juice with a pleasant, mildly sweet and peppery finish. This whiskey is referred to on the website as “a worthy precursor of the whiskey to come.” I can see that, and I look forward to it maturing another five or eight years in the barrel.
This is $39.99 a bottle. That seems steep for a baby whiskey, so I’m waiting for it to grow up before I get excited.