In March 1791, at the behest of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, President George Washington signed into the law the Whiskey Excise Act. The law levied taxes on spirits distilled within the United States and was the first tax ever levied by the federal government on a domestically-produced product.
Farmers living west of the Appalachian Mountains - the western frontier at the time - were vehemently opposed to the tax. These farmers often operated small stills and distilled the excess grains they harvested from their farms into whiskey, which was easier to transport over the Appalachian Mountains as compared to cumbersome grains. When agents of the Treasury Department were forcibly prevented from collecting the whiskey tax by the farmers turned distillers, George Washington led a federalized militia of nearly 13,000 soldiers into western Pennsylvania in order to suppress the "Whiskey Rebellion." Without firing a shot, the rebellion collapsed, although many Pennsylvanian farmers continued to evade the tax.
"Dad's Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskies pay homage to our state's rich tradition of making small-batch whiskey," says Herman Mihalich, master distiller at Mountain Laurel Spirits. Raised in Monessen (a small city situated in southwest Pennsylvania) and armed with a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Wharton, Mihalich has spent most of his life in Pennsylvania. "I really wanted to revive that entrepreneurial spirit and rich rye heritage we have here,"he says.
Dad's Hat Rye is made from a mash of 80% rye, 15% malted barley and 5% malted rye. After Mihalich sources all of the grains from local farmers in Pennsylvania, he slowly ferments the mash for approximately seven days before distilling it though a 500-gallon Christian Carl copper-pot still imported from Germany. The still, which is augmented by a side-column, allows Mihalich to remove any impurities in the whiskey, while simultaneously refining its flavor and texture.
After distillation, Dad's Hat Pennsylvania Rye is aged in charred, white oak quarter casks (15-gallon casks) for just under one year in a temperature-controlled warehouse. The small casks and climate-controlled aging give the whiskey hints of cinnamon, dried fruits, nuts and candied apple, which nicely balance out the flavor of the spicy rye.
Dad's Hat Vermouth-Finished Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey is also aged in charred, white oak quarter casks (15-gallon casks) for just under one year. Following its initial maturation, however, the rye is double-barreled, or finished, in Vya Vermouth barrels for an additional three to four months. The barrels, sourced from the Quady Winery in California, were used to mature a vermouth made from a blend of over 17 different herbs and spices, and contribute notes of sweet citrus, berries and poached pears to the rye, which complement its undertones of cinnamon and spicy grains.
Much like the other two rye whiskies, Dad's Hat Port-Finished Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey is also aged in charred, white oak quarter casks (15-gallon casks) for just under one year. Then, the rye is finished for an additional four to five months in casks that were previously used to mature port wine. Port wine is a type of Portuguese fortified wine that has a sweet, dry flavor. As a result, the rye has a copper red color, along with an aroma of red fruits, citrus and honey. The aroma gives way to notes of spicy rye, pepper and buttered dough that are complemented by sweet undertones of plums, berries and dark cherries. The finish is warming and well-balanced. Only 1,200 bottles of this port-finished rye whiskey were ever produced.
After maturing, each cask of Dad's Hat Rye Whiskey, Dad's Hat Vermouth-Finished Rye Whiskey and Dad's Hat Port-Finished Rye Whiskey is brought to proof and bottled by hand.
Inspired by the old-fashioned fedora hats his father used to purchase in Philadelphia, Mihalich's goal was to recreate the sentiment that these hats represented with Dad's Hat Whiskey: quality, tradition and integrity. Try three quality, traditional rye whiskies today!
Rye: 90 (45% ABV) Vermouth & Port-Finished: 94 (47% ABV)
Mountain Laurel Spirits
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Rye: Nose is woody and herbaceous. Bold and spicy rye flavor with a bit of heat on the back of the tongue. Initial rye notes gives way to subtle flavors of citrus, cinnamon, nuts and rock candy. Lingering, medium-long finish.
Vermouth Finish: Aroma of citrus, dried fruits and figs. Hints of apricots, cherries and grapes, along with more robust notes of rye, cinnamon and woody spice. Finish is initially subtle, but leads to bold notes of nutty dough, spicy rye and a touch of baking spice.
Port Finish: Aroma of red fruits, citrus and honey. Notes of spicy rye, clove and buttered dough that are complemented by sweet undertones of plums, berries and dark cherries. Finish is warming and well-balanced.