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The Craft Distilleries & Spirits Trail of Greater Philadelphia

See why small-batch distilling is booming in the region

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Philadelphia Distilling Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia
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Craft distilleries in the Philadelphia region are absolutely booming, helping to restore Pennsylvania to its once-prominent place in the national distilling conversation.

Until Prohibition wiped out the state’s industry, Pennsylvania housed the country’s densest cluster of homespun and commercial whiskey producers, beginning with some of the country’s earliest settlers.

In 2011, Pennsylvania’s government passed reforms that allowed distillers to offer tours, samples and onsite sales. These new laws opened up the craft to would-be makers who now proudly produce and sell small-batch spirits in Philadelphia.

In a sign of the industry’s maturation, the Philadelphia Distillery Trail keeps a running tally and map of select regional facilities in an effort to promote visitation and sampling.

Here’s a look at some of the region’s distilling pioneers.

Note: Schedules do change, so check online or call in advance to ensure the distillery is open the day you plan to attend.

01

Philadelphia Distilling

— J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

An old Fishtown factory houses Philadelphia Distilling — Pennsylvania’s first post-Prohibition distillery — which employs hand-hammered copper stills and Hall-Woodford wooden fermentation vessels to create batches of Bluecoat American Dry Gin, Blue Coat Barrel Finished Gin, Vieux Carré Absinthe, Penn 1681 Vodka and THE BAY Seasoned Vodka (seasoned with traditional Chesapeake Bay seasonings). The distillery offers a full bar and restaurant with a lounge, tasting room — named to Philadelphia magazine’s 2017 “Best of Philly” list — and retail store.

Where: Philadelphia Distilling, 25 East Allen Street

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02

Federal Distilling

— Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

The clear nectar of the gods is the specialty at this Kensington must-visit. A tribute to the rich history of Philadelphia, Federal’s signature Stateside Urbancraft Vodka is the main attraction. Tours and tastings take place Friday and Saturday.

Where: Federal Distilling, Stateside Urbancraft Vodka, 1700 N. Hancock Street

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03

Rowhouse Spirits

A small shed on the property of Philadelphia Brewing Company (PBC) — not, as the name would suggest, a rowhome — is where former PBC brewer/owner Dean Browne perfects his craft. Rowhouse makes very small batch gin, traditionally Scandinavian Nordic Akvavit, Poitín Irish-style moonshine made from 100% barley malts and Bear Trap herbal liqueur, which tastes like anise and is made from 19 fresh organic botanicals. Tours of the 1,200-square-foot space take place Thursday through Saturday.

Where: Rowhouse Spirits Distillery, 2430 Frankford Avenue

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04

New Liberty Distillery

— J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

In 2017, the American Craft Spirits Association awarded this sought-after Kensington distillery’s whiskey a gold medal. Saturdays mean free tours of New Liberty’s rustic space — circa-1906 horse stables — after which guests can head upstairs to the third-floor bar and lounge for a tasting, an expertly prepared whiskey cocktail — or both.

Where: New Liberty Distillery, 1431 N. Cadwallader Street

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05

W.P. Palmer Distilling Co.

This Manayunk distillery takes a historical approach to its sole spirit: gin. Handcrafted in a copper-pot still, Palmer’s Liberty Gin uses a traditional 18th-century Dutch recipe that calls for rich botanicals, citrus and spices.

Where: Palmer Distilling Co, 376 Shurs Lane

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06

Red Brick Craft Distillery

Founded with a successful crowd-funding campaign, Red Brick Craft Distillery produces varieties including two small-batch whiskeys, a pineapple rum and a clear sugar wash rum. Tours and tastings take place on Saturday afternoons.

Where: Red Brick Craft Distillery, 2628 Martha Street

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07

Naoj & Mot

Launched as a distraction for a mother grieving her deceased son, Naoj & Mott has been producing the Pollyodd line of Italian liqueurs since 2012. Though the distillery itself is closed to the public, Joan Verratti, the state’s first licensed female distiller, runs a vibrant tasting room in South Philly where she pours five natural cream-based and five water-based spirits, like Limoncello and Chocolatecello, using locally sourced ingredients.

Where: Naoj & Mot, 2519 Moore Street

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08

Mountain Laurel Spirits

— Courtesy of Dad's Hat Distilling

Named after owner Herman Mihalich’s father’s favored fashion accessory, Dad’s Hat rye whiskeys carry a strong sense of history. Mihalich employs a recipe that harkens to the 18th-century days when Pennsylvania farmers used their surplus rye grain to distill the homemade whiskey, which later turned the state into the world’s chief producer of this type of spirit. Most Saturday afternoons, visitors can get a lesson in the modern and historical production methods from Mihalich or business partner John Cooper and then sample the final product.

Where: Mountain Laurel Spirits Llc, 925 Canal Street, Bristol

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09

Hewn Spirits

Hewn Spirits sources grains locally, distills them in a handmade copper pot still and ages them in old, reclaimed rare-wood barrels. Among Hewn’s products: Shipmate Rum, Dark Hollow Pennsylvania Bourbon, Red Barn Rye Whiskey, Reclamation American Single Malt Whiskey and New Moon Moonshine. Distillery tours and tastings take place some Fridays and Saturdays in Pipersville, next door to the Bucks County Brewery; the Peddler’s Village bar and tasting room are open daily.

Where: Hewn Spirits, 31 Appletree Lane, Pipersville

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10

Manatawny Still Works

— Courtesy of Manatawny Still Works

On banks of the Manatawny Creek, this Pottstown distiller makes Odd Fellows No. 214 Gin, J. Potts Whiskey and other small-batch whiskeys, Hidden River Barrel Rested Gin, T. Rutter Rum and Three Bitches Wheat Vodka. An antique-filled tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday for cocktails and spirit flights (adding a food truck on Fridays and live music on Saturday evenings); tours take place on weekends. Can’t make it to Pottstown? Manatawny operates two bottle shops and tasting rooms conveniently located in the city: one on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philly and the other at One Penn Center adjacent to Suburban Station.

Where: Manatawny Still Works, 320 Circle of Progress Drive, Pottstown

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11

Bluebird Distilling

Historical records suggest that Bluebird Distilling is Chester County’s first post-Prohibition distillery. Bluebird uses all natural ingredients to produce its broad selection of products, including white rye whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, plus four-grain bourbon and rye — five of which medaled at 2017 American Craft Spirits Awards. That ethos extends to the on-site lounge, where bartenders mix cocktails with fresh-squeezed juices and ingredients made from scratch. Bluebird also operates a bottle shop at The Shops at Liberty Place in downtown Philly.

Where: Bluebird Distilling, 100 Bridge Street, Phoenixville

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12

Five Saints Distilling and International Spirits

Named after his father and the four men who served as father figures to founder John George, Five Saints Distilling and International Spirits opened its doors in autumn 2015 in the Historic Humane Engine #1 Firehouse. Doubling as both a firehouse museum and distillery that specializes in premium spirits, including gin, vodka, whiskey and orangecello, Five Saints offers tours, tastings, retail sales and events.

Where: Five Saints Distilling, 129 East Main Street, Norristown

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13

Pennsylvania Distilling Company

While new to the Philadelphia distillery scene, Pennsylvania Distilling Company follows old-fashioned principles to craft its grain-to-glass spirits from scratch. PDC’s lineup includes Pennsylvania Liberty Rye Whiskey, First City Small-Batch Vodka, Frontier Explorer’s White Rum, Frontier Explorer’s Gold Rum, Old City White Rye Whiskey and Founders Artisan Dry Gin, several of which incorporate local, organic and non-GMO ingredients. An on-site tasting room is open to the public Thursday through Sunday, and tours are available on request.

Where: Pennsylvania Distilling Company, 50 Three Tun Road, Malvern

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14

Boardroom Spirits Distillery

Headquartered in Lansdale, this sustainable, family-owned craft distillery uses local ingredients in its line of award-winning unaged spirits that include traditional vodka, flavored vodka, rum, gin, brandy, triple sec and vegetable-based specialty spirits. Visitors can enjoy Boardroom’s cocktail lounge Thursday through Sunday and book free tours through the company website. Local food trucks help tasters hold their liquor on “Foodie Fridays.”

Where: Boardroom Spirits Distillery, 575 West 3rd Street, Lansdale

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15

Faber Distilling

— Courtesy

Produced and bottled by Theobald & Oppenheimer, Faber Distilling crafts simple vodka, gin and white rum, along with flavored vodkas in varieties like cherry, pomegranate and grape. The Trumbauersville-based brand is committed to being the easiest-drinking liquor in all of Pennsylvania.

Where: Faber Distilling Co., 118 N. Main Street, Trumbauersville

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16

Thistle Finch Distillery

— Courtesy of Thistle Finch Distillery

Serving up small-batch white rye whiskey near downtown Lancaster, Thistle Finch gets 90 percent of its grains from nearby farms, and mills them to a flour-like consistency that results in flavorful, un-aged whiskey. Every bottle is finished with a label manually applied by a volunteer. White Rye Whiskey is the principal spirit, but Market Alley Gin, Penn Square Vodka and other whiskeys round out the product line. Distillery tours are available Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and include a tasing of the full line. No reservations necessary for the tour or tasting room, where visitors can also order from the food menu at the on-site Wacker Brewing Co.

Where: Thistle Finch Distillery, 417 West Grant Street, Lancaster

Philadelphia Distilling
Federal Distilling
Rowhouse Spirits
New Liberty Distillery
W.P. Palmer Distilling Co.
Red Brick Craft Distillery
Naoj & Mot
Mountain Laurel Spirits
Hewn Spirits
Manatawny Still Works
Bluebird Distilling
Five Saints Distilling and International Spirits
Pennsylvania Distilling Company
Boardroom Spirits Distillery
Faber Distilling
Thistle Finch Distillery
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