Dad's Hat Distillery Tour (2019)

I toured this small craft distillery in the Philadelphia, PA, USA suburb of Bristol, with about 20 Philadelphia Whiskey Society members. Our host for the tour, which was very informative, was one of the founding partners, Herman Mihalich, a former chemical engineer who the distiller.

A few tidbits for fellow geeks:

  • Mash bill is 80% rye that is not malted, 15% malted barley, 5% malted rye;

  • The rye is sourced from Nevada Mease Farm in Bucks County, PA;

  • Uses Bristol public water that comes off their condenser, which removes the chlorine;

  • Each mashing starts with 2000 lbs of rye, 500 lbs of malt, and 850 gallons of water which is cooked at 160 degrees in stainless steel mash tuns, then fermented for 5 days with natural and added enzymes in stainless washbacks;

  • The distillery employs its pot still for the first distillation and then the low wines are distilled in their column still;

  • The distillate is 75% ABV off the still and 60% going into the barrel; maturing is done in new 15 gallon barrels that are Char level 4 or 53 gallon barrels that are Char 3.

The highlight of the tour was tasting barrel proof whiskey that had just been emptied from 15 gallon casks into a vatting tun/tank. Drinking this vibrant young whisky directly from the tun was a treat. To say that it exceeded expectations is an understatement. It was among the most enjoyable rye whiskeys I’ve tasted, with a balance of spice and fruitiness that easily overcame the high alcohol content of the undiluted spirit.

We then amassed in the tasting bar area where we sampled all of the distillery’s offerings and were treated to some exceptionally good local pizza. The various expressions offered include several interesting finishes such as vermouth, port and maple barrel finishes and a Rock and Rye to go with their straight and classic rye whiskeys, with a straight BIB which is bottled at 50% ABV and their barrel proof

The consistent underlying sweetness of the various expressions, without the extreme dry spice (which tends to turn me off to many ryes), may come from the higher-than-usual-for-rye malt component to the mash, which Mihalich states unequivocally is the historical hallmark of Pennsylvania rye whiskey.