Rye whiskey in your backyard

Dad's Hat Rye WhiskeyOver the next couple of weeks, I’ll give you some gift ideas for the local foodie in your life. Let’s start with whiskey.

In Bucks County? Uh-huh. Founders Herman Mihalich and John Cooper started Dad’s Hat Rye in 2011 in a warehouse space in Bristol, PA (see our post, Rye whiskey comes back home). Their first barrel-aged whiskey made its debut in June 2012. And it’s been fun ever since.

Yet, I’m still turning people on to it. Two years I’ve been happily drinking this lovely rye Dads Hat_Mihalich Barwhiskey but I get disbelieving looks and dropped jaws when I tell friends about it. In fact, what Mihalich and Cooper are doing isn’t brand new; they are continuing a very old tradition. Rye whiskey in America began in Pennsylvania in the early 18th century. German immigrant farmers used their leftover harvest to make something that would get them through the winter. It was a very successful industry, producing millions of gallons of whiskey straight through to 1920 when Prohibition struck. Unfortunately, the rye whiskey distilleries never fully recovered. Today, rye is something that people remember their grandfathers drinking and don’t even know still exists. Just try to order it in most bars.

Herman Mihalich & Nevada Mease, Meadow Brook FarmBut this is really local – and sustainable. Mihalich and Cooper are sourcing all the rye grain from Pennsylvania – some from Meadow Brook Farm in Springtown (Upper Bucks) and some from Lancaster. The spent mash goes back to the farm to feed the animals.

Got a whiskey lover on your gift list? Drop by one of the premium state stores in Pennsylvania (e.g., New Hope, Newtown, Doylestown) and you’ll find Dad’s Hat Rye, including their newest creation, Dad’s Hat Rye finished in vermouth barrels (a little sweeter). Try also the Dad’s Hat finished in Port Wine Barrels (limited release) or the Single Barrel Cask Strength, available only at the Bristol distillery.

Dad's Hat Rye Distillery; photo by L. GoldmanDid I mention you can tour the distillery? Most Saturday afternoons (by appointment only), they offer one-hour tours of the distillery, including a tasting and the opportunity to buy the whiskey direct from the distillery. Future tours are scheduled for December 21, and in 2014, January 11, January 25, February 8 and February 22. To sign up for the tour, visit their website here.

If you want to try the whiskey, drop by several good local bars, including Triumph Brewing Company, 1821 Steak & Cocktails, the Yardley Inn, the Churchville Inn, the Golden Pheasant Inn, Honey or the Carversville Inn. There’s more, of course. You can search by zip code here for bars and restaurants or distributors.

Triumph is serving some signature cocktails with Dad’s Hat. There’s the Dad’s Cider, made with Dad’s Hat Rye and Solebury Orchards cider. Or the Dad’s Old Fashioned, with rye, Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-aged bitters, and the Dad’s Poison, created with Triumph’s Oak-Aged Snakebite beer, ginger, and, of course, Dad’s Hat Rye.

Me? I like a Perfect Manhattan with Dad’s Hat. If you don’t know what that is, look it up. See ya at the bar.

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