It’s boom time for distilling in Pennsylvania (and New Jersey), and here are two dozen from the area.
Philadelphia has history in spades, it’s true. And while these streets may be haunted by the ghosts of years past, the present is full of a different kind of spirit.
Craft distilling has come home to Pennsylvania, pre-Prohibition seat to scads of small scale booze producers, and though the temperance movement put a damper on things for a good while, Repeal Day—and new legislation passed in 2011—has finally opened up regulations to get the stills firing afresh. Below you’ll find our favorite distillery pioneers in the Philadelphia area.
Naoj & Mot (Pollyodd)
When we talk craft spirits we almost always mean one of the big three: vodka, gin, or whiskey. But truthfully, each of these results from a relatively similar distilling process, and their flavor differences in the finished product depend heavily on what you do or add to your base spirit after distilling is done. In the case of Joan Verratti, she adds fruit, water, sugar, and sometimes chocolate to make Pollyodd, her line of Italian liqueurs—limoncello, chocolatecello, bananacello, etc.—that she retails from a colorful storefront on East Passyunk Avenue.
Tours and Tasting Room: Retail location on Passyunk Avenue is open Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays
1908 East Passyunk Avenue, East Passyunk 19148 • 215-271-1161 • pollyodd.com (2.0 miles from City Hall) Snyder Station
New Liberty Distillery
A newcomer on the scene, New Liberty was founded in 2014, releasing a line of blended whiskies under the label “Kinsey,” named for a historic distillery that operated in Philadelphia prior to Prohibition. Though just getting started, the folks at New Liberty, part of the Millstone Spirits group, have big plans for a tasting room and distilling school in their Kensington space at the Crane Arts building.
Tours and Tasting Room: On Saturdays and Sundays, New Liberty offers tours at 1 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm. The third floor tasting room also offers $6 cocktails on weekend afternoons.
1431 N. Cadwallader Street, Kensington 19122 • 800-996-0595 • millstonespirits.com (2.6 miles) Girard Station
Life is nothing but a series of ups and downs, so it makes sense that coffee maverick La Colombe, long supplying us with the caffeine highs, is now also slowing us down with booze. Try their Different Drum Pennsylvania Rum, distilled from sugar cane and flavored with coffee in their Fishtown factory.
Tours and Tasting Room: You can peer into the glass-walled distillery located within the Fishtown Flagship and get the best take on a White Russian anywhere, at the coffee bar.
1335 Frankford Avenue, Fishtown, 267-479-1600 • lacolombe.com (2.8 miles) Girard Station
This Kensington distillery is specializing in vodka distilling. Sip their Stateside Vodka to realize how smooth vodka can be.
Tours and Tasting Room: Tours will run Thursdays and Fridays at 6 PM, and on Saturdays at 1, 3 and 5 PM. The tasting room is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 5 to 10 PM and Saturdays noon to 10 PM.
161 Cecil B. Moore Avenue, Kensington 19122 • statesidevodka.com (2.9 miles) Berks Station
Cooper River Distillers
Camden’s first distillery! Owner James Yoakum got his start as a home brewer, and now makes tall bottles of Petty’s Island Rum, named for the 300-acre island that sits in the Delaware river, smack in between Philadelphia and Camden. Some of it he leaves unadulterated, some he ages to a golden hue in rye whiskey barrels, and some he spices with cinnamon, vanilla, clove, and ginger, before sweetening it slightly with molasses. Also available from the brewery direct are Silver Fox Rye and super small batches of Single Run Whiskeys, which started out as brews by Saint Benjamin Brewing.
Tours and Tasting Room: On Fridays, from 4 to 8 PM, and Saturdays, from 1 to 8 PM, they shut down production and turn the distillery into a cocktail bar featuring drinks made with only their spirits. And since it’s all in one room in this former garage, you get a tour and tasting room all in one.
34 N. 4th St. Camden, NJ 08102 • 856-295-1273 • cooperriverdistillers.com (3.3 miles) City Hall Station (Camden)
Dean Browne, a longtime brewer at Philadelphia Brewing Company, is carving out a little space for himself across from the brewery in an old gas station and making very small batch spirits under the label Rowhouse. So far, he’s got a gin, poitin, an Irish moonshine, rum and several liqueurs. Try the Bear Trap, an herbal liqueur that could upend your after dinner Fernet habit.
Tours and Tasting Room: Feel free to head over any time during retail hours (noon to 6 PM Thursday through Saturday) and get a sampling. Good news is this place is so tiny, you get a free tour the second you set foot in the door.
2440 Frankford Avenue, Kensington • 267-825-7332 • rowhousespirits.us (3.6 miles) Berks Station
Red Brick Craft Distillery
Born from a Kickstarter campaign, this small batch distillery just got its feet on the ground the end of last summer. Now they produce three spirits and work very closely with their neighbor Martha (a bar with more than 50 local spirits). Grab a bottle of their single malt Red Brick Whiskey, Barrel Strength Red Brick Whiskey, or their Simple Shine, a sugar wash rum.
Tours and Tasting Room: Tours run Saturdays and Sundays at 1,3 or 5 PM. (They also have classes sometimes). The tasting room is open Saturdays and Sundays between 1 and 6 PM.
2628 Martha St, Philadelphia, PA 19125 • (267) 603-3790 • redbrickcraftdistillery.com (4.1 miles) Huntingdon Station
W. P. Palmer Distilling
Focused on tradition and simplicity, this two-year-old distillery may be new but roots itself in the past. Based out of Manayunk, Walter Palmer, founder and head distiller, produces the very patriotically named, citrus-y Liberty Gin, and Manayunk Moonshine, which sounds like the best worst idea in a while.
Tours and Tasting Room: Tours are offered every Saturday from noon to 5 PM, no reservation needed. During that time the tasting room is also open. And anytime you see a sign outside that says “free gin tasting,” head on in.
376 Shurs Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19128 • (215) 588-5108 • palmerdistilling.com (7.2 miles) Wissahickon Station (Norristown Line)
As with many a fun evening, it was gin that started it all. Specifically Bluecoat Gin, from local distillery pioneer Philadelphia Distilling. That grassy gin, heavy on the botanicals, paved the way for more spirits to follow and now the company line-up includes Vieux Carré absinthe and Penn 1681, a rye vodka. Their latest addition is called The Bay; it’s also vodka, but this one is flavored with black pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, and celery seed. Yep. Just like what you’ll find on your crab fries at that place in South Philly. Bloody Marys, waiting to happen.
Tours and Tasting Room: Look for tours and a grandiose tasting room when the distillery opens its new location in Fishtown.
12285 McNulty Road, Northeast Philly, 215-671-0346 • philadelphiadistilling.com (17.8 miles)
Five Saints Distilling
Freshly opened in an old firehouse, Five Saints Distilling is right on Main Street in Norristown. The distillery is currently putting out vodka and white whiskey. Look for more offerings in the future.
Tours and Tasting Room: Tours are offered throughout the day on Saturdays for $10. The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday with retail sales on Mondays and Tuesdays.
129 East Main Street, Norristown • fivesaintsdistilling.com (18.5 miles) Norristown T.C. (Norristown Line) Norristown T.C.
Dad’s Hat Rye
Spicy and distinctive, like your dad’s aftershave, Dad’s Hat is a straight rye whiskey from Bucks County. Mix up a Manhattan with their standard bearer, or add another complex flavor note by choosing their Double Finish Rye, aged in sweet vermouth barrels from Quady Winery. The flagship rye won Whisky Advocate’s Craft Whiskey of the Year Award in 2015.
Tours and Tasting Room:
Tours are available on Saturdays only at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. for $10. Each tour includes samples and a tasting.
924 Canal Street, Bristol, PA 19007 • (215) 781-8300 • dadshatrye.com (22.3 miles) Bristol (Trenton Line)
Started by Marat and Zsuzsa Mamedov, Boardroom prides themselves on their innovation and efforts to create sustainable practices. Head to the distillery to bottle your own spirits and get a taste of their Boardroom Vodka. They will be introducing a brandy, whiskey and fruit infused vodka in the near future.
Tours and Tasting Room: Schedule a tour on their site on a Saturday or Sunday running at 1 or 5 p.m. The
Tasting Room is open Wednesday through Friday starting at 4 p.m. and Sunday and Saturday at 11 a.m.
575 W. Third St, Lansdale, PA 19446 • (267) 642-9961 • boardroomspirits.com (26.8 miles) Lansdale (Lansdale/Doylestown Line)
Having just celebrated their one-year anniversary, Bluebird Distilling does a little bit of everything. Founder and master distiller, Jared Atkins, jumped into the game after seeing how popular the craft beer and local wines became. Now Bluebird makes six spirits including their popular Juniper Gin, White Rye Whiskey, and Four Grain Bourbon. (Apparently they also make a very popular habanero pepper vodka infusion they put in a drink called Firebird, which you grab at their bar.)
Tours and Tasting Room: They have their own bar, open Wednesday through Sunday, where they mix up cocktails using Bluebird spirits.
100 Bridge S/, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania 19473• 610.933.7827• bluebirddistilling.com (27.6 miles)
Manatawny Still Works
Started by a group of friends in Pottstown, Manatawny distills J. Potts Whiskey, T. Rutter Rum and Three Bitches Wheat Vodka from the spent barley grains of neighboring Sly Fox brewery. Still relative newcomers to the distillery scene, this is one of the bigger distilleries in the region and look for more aged spirits to be added to their line-up.
Tours and Tasting Room: Tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 3 PM for $15. And it comes with a cocktail, a tasting, a 10 oz. bottle and a Manatawny Still Works glass. The tasting room has impressive cocktails pouring Thursday through Sunday.
320 Circle of Progress Drive Suite 104 Pottstown, PA 19464 • 484-624-8271 • manatawnystillworks.com (43.2 miles)
Locally-grown grains, ground on a 19th-century grist mill and distilled in a copper pot still? You can’t get much more hand-crafted than New Moon Moonshine, Red Barn Rye, and golden Shipmate Rum, all offerings of the Peddler’s Village-based Hewn Spirits. Hewn is the project of Sean Tracy, who restored barns for 25 years and is now experimenting with aging spirits in woods other than the standard American oak.
Tours and Tasting Room: For $15 a person, if you round up at least 8 friends and give them two weeks notice, you can get a 30 minute tour and spirit tasting at Hewn. The Bucks County distillery also has a tasting room at Peddler’s Village.
Peddler’s Village, Street Road, between Routes 202 & 263, Lahaska, PA 18931 • 215-766-7711 • hewnspirits.com (43.5 miles)
Faber Distilling Co.
Faber is doing it right: half the sugar, gluten-free, and way cheaper than all but the lowest shelf well liquors, they make a handful of flavored vodkas, a white rum, and a gin. Always in their minimalist labels, always good value for the price.
Tours and Tasting Room: None
2300 Trumbauersville Rd, Quakertown, PA 18951 • (215) 268-6071 • faberspirits.com (44.4 miles)
Brandywine Branch Distillers
Known for their Revivalist gins, Brandywine Branch Distillers is making a name for itself with a full spectrum of gin tastes, from floral to herbal, with some interesting detours as well. The distillery sits on 8-acres of land in rural Chester County.
Tours and Tasting Room: The bar is open Thursday through Saturday, tours are coming soon.
350 Warwick Road, Elverson PA 19520 • brandywinebranchdistillers.com (44.6 miles)
Primarily growers of the most gorgeous Asian pears you’ll see anywhere, this Lehigh Valley fruit producer took home the award for Brandy of the Year at the 2015 Berlin International Spirits Competition for their Asian pear eau de vie, a clear brandy with the intense aroma of their wonderful fruit. They’re set to debut Subarashii Vodka, a 100-proof pear vodka later this year.
Tours and Tasting Room: Nope, sorry. But you might be able to catch them at some of their remote tastings.
7200 Suter Road Coopersburg, PA 18036 • 610-282-7588 • winesofsubarashii.com (49.3 miles)
Located in a former bank building in Bethlehem, Social Still is a distillery, bar and restaurant. With a full line of spirits (bourbon, gin, vodka, rye, rum) and full-service restaurant and bar, this Lehigh Valley distillery is already making inroads into Philadelphia bars and restaurants.
Tours and Tasting Room: Social Still has a full fledged bar and restaurant on site. Hours for the bar are Wednesday through Friday from 4 pm to 10pm, Saturday from noon to 11 pm and Sunday from noon to 8 pm. Make your reservations in advance for the 3 p.m. Saturday tours. That advanced tour costs $10.
530 East 3rd Street, Bethlehem, Pa 18015 • (610) 625-4585 • socialstill.com (57.8 miles)
County Seat Spirits
County Seat opened in 2014 as Lehigh Valley’s first distillery. Like many of the other distilleries in this guide, County Seat is a grain-to-glass distillery, meaning they control the entire process of creating their spirits in house. They make the typical whiskeys, gins, vodkas, two rums: Sand Island White Rum and regular Sand Island, as well as their Hidden Copper Bourbon. They also happen to be right next to a brewery and a meadery, so you could spend the whole day sampling what Allentown has to offer.
Tours and Tasting Room: County Seats tasting room is open weekends, Fridays starting at 4 PM and Saturday and Sunday starting at noon. You can request private tour.
905 Harrison St. Allentown, PA 18103 • (610) 628-9502 • countyseatspirits.com (62.8 miles)
Known for it’s small batch white rye whiskey this little distillery was the first to open in Lancaster since prohibition. They’ve branched out slightly creating their Market Alley Gin and Penn Square Vodka, but their classic Thistle Finch White Rye Whiskey is what they do best. You can also grab two variations: Black Pepper Rye and Black Coffee Rye.
Tours and Tasting Room: Free tours are offeredevery Saturday, at 1, 2:30 and 3 PM, and Sunday at 1 PM. The tasting room offers tastings and you can grab some food from the Little Dutch Café while you taste.
417 West Grant St. Lancaster, PA 17603 • (717) 478-8472 • thistlefinch.com (79.9 miles) Lancaster Station (Keystone Service)
Reporting by Emily Teel and Chelsea Portner