Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey is truly America’s original whiskey. In the 18th century, many Pennsylvania farmers were using their surplus rye grain to distill homemade whiskey.
American farmers saw homemade distilling as their right and when, in 1791, the new United States Federal Government imposed a whiskey tax these same farmers threatened to secede from the union. This incident, known as the Whiskey Rebellion, was obviously not successful, but it was surely an indication of how important rye whiskey was to our country’s early history. Pennsylvania rye was known not just for the independent nature of its makers, but also for the quality of the product itself.
As early as 1810, Pennsylvania’s distillers were making over 6 million gallons of rye whiskey annually. Throughout the 1800’s the size and reputation of Pennsylvania’s rye whiskey producers continued to grow. By the end of the 1800s individual distilleries in Pennsylvania were making hundreds of thousands, and some over a million gallons of whiskey per year. Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey was prized across the United States and around the world.
Through the early part of the 20th century, rye whiskey continued to enjoy great success. Unfortunately, 1920 brought the passage of the 18th Amendment and Prohibition, which was a disaster for Pennsylvania’s rye whiskey makers. To fill the void during the 1920s bootleggers made a hastily contrived, and poorly made, blended substitute that was called rye whiskey. After Prohibition Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey and its distillers never fully recovered from the damage.
Rye whiskey was a particular specialty served at the Mihalich family’s tavern in Monessen, PA. As a child, Dad’s Hat Founder Herman Mihalich lived with his family above the bar, and both his father and grandfather were fond of the all-American spirit. Inspired by a 2006 story about the reemergence of rye, Mihalich, along with his friend John Cooper, would later go on to found Mountain Laurel Spirits in 2011 in Bristol becoming the first Pennsylvania distillery to make rye whiskey since 1990.
Our mission is to distill and deliver classic Pennsylvania Rye spirits following over 200 years of American distilling tradition. After spending several decades in the wilderness, Rye Whiskey has been rediscovered by whiskey lovers. Dad’s Hat supports local charitable events and embraces our Pennsylvania heritage. Our distillery in Bristol, Bucks County is located just five miles from where the Philadelphia Pure Rye Whiskey Distilling Company was located until 1920 in Eddington, PA. We are very pleased to be a part of renewing the proud tradition of fine Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey for years to come.