By Randall H. Borkus
Arguably, Pennsylvania is the birthplace of American whiskey, as evidenced by what happened after The Whiskey Rebellion of 1791, which led to the migration of distillers to Kentucky to avoid Federal taxes. The boomtimes for American Whiskey has led to a revival of the Pennsylvania whiskey style, which disappeared completely some three decades ago.
Stoll & Wolfe Distillery is housed in an 1885 feed and flour mill at 35 N. Cedar St., Lititz, Pennsylvania. This is where Erik and Avianna Wolfe have partnered with Richard and Elaine Stoll to make apple brandy and whiskey. Richard “Dick” Stoll, a former master distiller from the legendary Bomberger’s, will be overseeing production. The tasting room features a 40-seat bar and offer Stoll & Wolfe whiskey, apple brandy and cocktails made with those spirits. It also sells Pennsylvania wines, craft beers and snack food.
Originally Launched as Bomberger’s, the name was changed to Stoll & Wolfe in 2015 after a trademark dispute with Michter’s. In order to get a product into the pipeline, they worked with Thomas McKenzie of Craft Distillery Resources to identify a craft distiller with a column still until they get their own still up and running. Silverback Distillery in Afton, Virginia was the chosen for their contract distilling.
The mash bill for the Pennsylvania Rye is 65% Rye, 25% Corn and 10% malt, made as a sweet mash rather than the more usual sour mash method. This is not in the classic Monogahela style, which is very high rye and no corn at all.
Erik Wolfe explained that they are using 30 gallon barrels with a #3 char for their shorter aged releases, like this one (under 2 years), and 53 gallon barrels with a #4 char for the longer aged products. “Our goal is to eventually build enough stock to offer a 2, 4, and 8 year rye as standard releases. We’re currently [also] working on a bourbon, with Dick Stoll’s involvement with the A.H. Hirsch we’ve had many folks ask.”
The whiskey dances in the glass when held up to the light reflecting a sparkly copper-amber color. The nose is young with a distinct hint of fresh off the still sweetness, vanilla and oak. The mouth fell is warm and spicy with creamy soft butterscotch, vanilla, young oak flavors and coats my tongue with a light oily herbal essence. The finish is minty, with warm corn sweetness melded with hints of butterscotch, vanilla, oak spice in the back of the throat and a final touch of astringent dry after taste.
This is a great first step for a new rye whiskey, and the juice will only get better as it matures with the barrel influences to the distillate. I really enjoyed sampling this youthful juice. It is a good rye whiskey with non-traditional doses of butterscotch and vanilla. This is going to get very interesting in year 2, 4, 8, and beyond I hope?
You can only find the Rye Whiskey at the Lititz tasting room and bottle shop for $49.99 a bottle. The distillery is contemplating distribution in NY/NJ, MI, and TX.