Prentiss Orr resigns from Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Spirits

Barry Young and Prentiss Orr

The Forks learned this afternoon via correspondent Bill Toland that Prentiss Orr, at right in the photo above, has resigned from Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, which makes Boyd & Blair vodka. Mr. Prentiss said he can't talk about it, but he has had some issues with Barry Young, at left. Mr. Young has sued Mr. Orr in the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas alleging that he tried to oust Mr. Young from the company's board of managers.

Here's the full text of Mr. Orr's release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: C. Prentiss Orr

October 23, 2014 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BOYD & BLAIR CEO RESIGNS

Pittsburgh – Effective yesterday, C. Prentiss Orr, CEO of Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, LLC, makers of Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka, has resigned as an officer of the company he founded in 2005. Orr will continue to serve on the Board of Managers of the company which enjoys distribution of its signature, craft vodka in 44 states as well as Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Orr declined to answer questions about his departure, other than to confirm that the company is poised to increase sales with the support of new management soon to be announced. Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, LLC, is governed by a Board of seven Managers, which is chaired by Tim Fisher, a senior officer of the Hillman Company.

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Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette 2013 photo

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Arsenal to open its Cider Garden

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Spirits

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You know what a beer garden is, right?

Well, Lawrenceville's Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar is officially opening its new cider garden from noon to 8 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 30.

Arsenal's Bill Larkin says the space has seating for 48 "plus lots of lawn space for blankets. Next year, live music and food vendors will be on a regular basis.  We plan to do a mix of bluegrass (we will call it "Bluegrass on the Bluegrass"), jazz, folk and the like."

For Saturday's party, the music lineup is to include:

· Noon to 3 p.m.: Cadillac Jazz Quartet

· 3 to 5 p.m.:  John Melnick

· 5 to 6:30 p.m.: Bret Kunash

6:30 to 8 p.m.: The Brothers Jenkins ("This is our nephews band," Mr. Larkin notes.)

In addition to the house ciders, wines and meads, there will be food, from Butcher on Butler, until 8 p.m.

The grassy space is at 300 39th St.

While you're there, pick up one of the new printed guides to the Allegheny River Libation Trail, which links Arsenal with a dozen other producers and purveyors of wine, spirits and beer located on both sides of the river.
 
Get the latest on the event's Facebook page.   

Arsenal Cider Facebook photo

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Maggie's Farm calls forth the undead

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Spirits

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Pittsburgh's craft rum distiller, Maggie's Farm, is releasing a specially made reserve rum named the Queen's Share by closing off its 3200 Smallman Street block for its first annual Zombie Party. 

From 4 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 27, the street should be crawling with zombies -- some from House of the Dead, "Pittsburgh's premiere zombie store" in Lawrenceville, and others from among party-goers who are encouraged with the prospect of prizes to dress up their undead best/worst. 

They'll be able to sample the Queen's Share and other rums and buy, for $5 each, four different Zombie cocktails created by four top Pittsburgh bartenders (the release doesn't say if they're living or dead). 

Live (sorta) music will be provided by The Graveyard Rockers with DJ Zombo.

And to keep the carnage to a minimum, the zombies will be able to feed from the PGH Taco Truck, the Mac & Gold Truck and South Side BBQ Co. 

Tickets -- $10 in advance and $15 at the door -- are availble via Showclix07172014ZombieParty

The new Queen's Share, writes owner Tim Russell, is made from the end-runnings, or "tails," of usual cane rum distillations, resulting in a more complex spirit made even moreso by being aged in bourbon casks and virgin oak casks; there's also an unaged version. 

Maggie's Farm images

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A Cocktail Week Dad's Hat tasting

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Spirits

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As part of Sept. 16 to 22 Pittsburgh Cocktail Week, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, Union Pig & Chicken is hosting meet Dad's Hat Rye Whiskey co-founder and distiller Herman Mihalich.

Customers can sample cocktails of four cocktails with three courses for $55 per person, plus tax and tip. Even some of the food will be cooked with Dad's Hat and smoked with wood from a used Dad’s Hat aging barrel.

Pouring will be the Rye Whiskey, aged in charred white oak quarter casks; unaged and relatively neutral White Rye; and Vermouth Barrel-Aged Rye Whiskey, finished for three months in a Vya Sweet Vermouth barrel. 

The brand's name comes from Mr. Mihalich’s father, who once owned a bar in Monessen and whose trademark was his Stetson hat. It's made in Bristol, about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia. For more, visit the website.

For more on Union Pig & Chicken and Harvard & Highland upstairs, call 1-412-363-7675 or visit www.sousapgh.com.

Dad's Hat photo

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A new distiller: Disobedient Spirits

Written by Bill Toland on . Spirits

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Bob Sechrist’s mom was driving him to orchards when he was just a teen, the two of them buying up fruit that would later become wine. Now a geography professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he teaches a course on regional winemaking, among others.

So in a perfect world, he would have become a vinter. But the world is imperfect, and Mr. Sechrist — along with his business partner, Bob Begg — will instead be opening a distillery in Homer City, Indiana County, perhaps by this autumn, the third commercial distillery in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The pair of IUP professors — Mr. Sechrist still teaches, while Mr. Begg retired a year ago — incorporated the business last year, calling it Disobedient Spirits LLC. The still (the piece of equipment that heats, separates and distills the spirits) is being custom-built by Hillbilly Stills in Kentucky and should be delivered in April, while the property that will eventually house the distilling operation should come into their possession in the next week or two.

“The biggest stumbling block was finding a building that would work for us,” Mr. Sechrist said. The building they settled on was formerly a medium-sized grocery store (called Mazzoni and Runzo’s), about 12,000 square feet, at 30 S. Main St. in Homer City.

“The roof is falling in. There’s asbestos. The electricity hasn’t been turned on in a couple of years,” Mr. Begg said. “But that’s part of the excitement — [to] fix it up, and make it nice.”

Like our other local distillers, Wigle (Pittsburgh Distilling Co., LLC) and Boyd & Blair vodka (Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries), the pair behind Disobedient Spirits got into distilling as relative novices, studying up as they moved through the process, consulting with experts, attending conferences organized by the American Distillers Institute.

And as with the other distillers, the process — from property acquisition, to build-out, to licensing — has gone slower than they imagined. The most recent hiccup was Homer City’s zoning code, and whether the code would allow a distillery to open up next door to a church.

“Progress is slow,” Mr. Begg said. “The still is already late.”

Better late than never, though, and both Mr. Begg and Mr. Sechrist say there’s no turning back now. Best-case scenario, they’ll have a product on hand by Christmas 2013.

Ah, yes, the product. Disobedient Spirits will make wheat vodka and rye whiskey, at least initially. “Vodka, that’s the easiest thing to make. And it requires very little aging,” Mr. Sechrist said. Future spirits, he said, might include a blue corn whiskey, resembling a bourbon; a barley whiskey; and flavored vodkas.

Though state law permits local “limited” distilleries to produce and sell up to 100,000 gallons annually, Disobedient Spirits will start out making 5,000 gallons a year, the pair hopes. They are still working out the sourcing of their grains, bottles and barrels, but they eventually hope to buy as much of it as possible from within Pennsylvania.

For updates on the distillery's progress, visit: http://disobedientspirits.com/

Disobedient Spirits image

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Acacia to install cocktail taps

Written by Melissa McCart on . Spirits

75258 315221085253936 425144070 n 1Cocktail taps are making their way to bars around the country, where they can be outfitted to pour a single liquor, aged cocktails or especially popular drinks such as a Negroni.

Acacia on the South Side will be among the first wave in Pittsburgh to install cocktail taps, which will debut in the next couple of weeks.

It would have been sooner, said bartender Spencer Warren. Someone stole the Fedex box that contained the remaining parts that was left at the door of the Carson Street establishment.  "As soon as we get replacements, we can install them," he said.

Bars in other cities such as San Francisco and D.C. where cocktail taps are making an appearance cite an increase in sales for featured drinks. It often translates to a less expensive cocktail and cuts the wait time during a rush.

While some bars use taps to feature something such as Fernet, Mr. Warren confirms each of the four taps installed will feature mixed drinks. "It takes the same amount of time to take the cap off a bottle as it does to pour from a tap," he quipped.

Might taps dilute consumers' experience? For an elaborate cocktail, stick with the bartender, especially if the banter is as much a part of the experience as the booze.

Acacia photo

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