The federal government prevailed, though the anti-tax actions of the whiskey rebels appeals to a broad segment of today’s population.
Integrating the long-ago events of the Whiskey Rebellion with a tour of a craft whiskey-distilling operation has become a mainstay of Wigle Whiskey, located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. The firm takes its name from one Philip Wigle, a German immigrant who was among the whiskey rebels. Wigle was sentenced to death by hanging in Philadelphia for treason, hence the presence of the letter “g” suspended from a noose in Wigle’s logo. George Washington spared Wigle’s life with a presidential pardon.
Philip likely would have introduced himself as 'VY-gul,' but at Wigle, those who work at the distillery pronounce the name 'wiggle.'
It’s easy to learn about whiskey-making from a tour guide who has wooden barrels and shiny, industrial-sized stills as backdrops. Large graphics illustrate key points about the Whiskey Rebellion, and some interesting facts are part of the presentation:
• In Pennsylvania, craft distilleries must limit their production to 100,000 gallons per year.
• A barrel-maker is
known as a 'cooper,' and
coopers really have
distillers over a barrel
because of the
requirement for single
use. Regulations dictate
that to be called
American whiskey, the
spirit must be aged in a
new, charred oak,
' The barrel can then be used for other spirits, or to finish aging other whiskeys, or sold to breweries around town – home brewers, too – for use in aging beer,' according to Jill Steiner, who handles media inquiries for Wigle. 'Using a new barrel to age whiskey gives the spirit a robust oak flavor, one that American whiskey is very much known for.'
• Wigle focuses on buying local, and sugar cane, the basis of rum, doesn’t grow in northern climates. Pennsylvania buckwheat honey becomes Wigle’s 'Landlocked,' which Wigle’s website says 'falls somewhere between a brandy and rum.'
'Working with local farmers and suppliers allows our whiskey to truly capture the flavors and character of Western Pennsylvania,' says Wigle distiller David Harries. 'The team at Weatherbury Farm has supplied a significant amount of wheat, rye and corn for our whiskeys. We worked with them to cultivate an heirloom variety of red open-pollinated corn that went into our first-ever batch of bourbon.'