Pittsburgh is a spirited city. It’s the birthplace of the Whiskey Rebellion, after all, and our love for “the water of life” is (ahem) still going strong. Thanks to changes in Pennsylvania’s antiquated liquor laws, there’s been a boom in craft distilleries over the last decade. Now you can head to a local tasting room and raise a glass of whiskey, vodka, rum, gin, moonshine and even absinthe in a toast to those rebellious imbibers of the past. Check out these 9 Pittsburgh distilleries.
Wigle Whiskey, Strip District
If you’re a fan of drinking local, thank the folks at Wigle Whiskey. The family-owned company opened to the public in 2012, becoming the first distillery in the city since Prohibition. It’s racked up multiple awards and locations, including launching its sister company, Threadbare Cider. The Smallman Street site will soon have a new tasting room, bar, retail space and kitchen. Want to feel like part of the crew? Wigle co-owner Mary Ellen Meyer hosts a labeling party every Tuesday night at the distillery. You can sip and snack for free in exchange for helping to hand-label bottles!
Maggie’s Farm Rum, Strip District
On Black Friday in 2013, Allegheny Distilling sold its inaugural bottle of Maggie’s Farm White Rum, Pennsylvania’s first commercially available craft rum since Prohibition. It’s been quite a colorful journey ever since. There’s a variety of rum to choose from (white, dark, spiced, pineapple, Queen’s Share, single-barrel) and tasty liqueurs to complement them. The public can tour the distillery and enjoy a cocktail Wednesday through Sunday in their cool space in the Strip. The sweet smell of raw cane sugar is almost as intoxicating as the booze it creates.
Kingfly Spirits, Strip District
Kingfly Spirits opened last Groundhog Day and customers keep coming back for its unique offerings. The company uses high-quality ingredients from around the world to create small-batch beverages, including its flagship Bliss 1895 Spiced Rum. New releases include Rosolio, a rare, 16th-century Sicilian liqueur, made with centifolia and damask rose petals imported from France; and Nocino, a Kingfly twist on a classic Italian liqueur featuring hand-harvested green walnuts, cloves, Tanzanian dark roast coffee beans and panela. Visit the way cool distillery (where NEXTpittsburgh celebrated its fifth anniversary) and send your taste buds on a globe-hopping adventure.
Lawrenceville Distilling Co., Lawrenceville
Care to dance with the Green Fairy? Lawrenceville Distilling Co. produces absinthe, an emerald-colored elixir that was banned in the U.S. from 1912 to 2007 due to its so-called hallucinogenic effects.
One sip of the company’s 1129 Absinthe Traditionnelle won’t turn you into a raving lunatic, but it will turn you into a fan. Swing by Harrison Street on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m. to try samples and swill cocktails.
The drinks are concocted with house-made mixers and spirits, including Parking Chair Vodka and Ginzer American Gin. Named 2019 Pennsylvania Gin Distillery of the Year by the New York International Craft Spirits Competition, Lawrenceville Distilling Co. has four new gins in the works for 2020.
Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, Glenshaw
The world’s best vodka is produced on Route 8 in Glenshaw. Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries’ Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka ranks No. 1 on the 2019 Ultimate Spirits Challenge Top 100 Spirits list, a prestigious yearly evaluation and recognition of high-quality beverages worldwide. Judge for yourself on Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m., when the five-star distillery is open to the public for free tours and tastings.
Quantum Spirits, Carnegie
The self-described “nerds” at Quantum Spirits use science, engineering and new technology to craft an out-of-this-world cocktail experience. Inside their Carnegie laboratory, they produce a variety of vodkas, gins, whiskeys and bitters, and they’re gearing up for the grand opening of their outdoor space this spring. Quantum has a lot of events on deck for 2020. Guests will even be able to watch a cooper build a barrel from scratch on the new patio!