Today, Pittsburgh may be better known for Iron City Beer (don’t try it) and Primanti Brother’s french fry and coleslaw stuffed sandwich (do try it), but before prohibition, western Pennsylvania produced five times as much whiskey as Kentucky. Pittsburgh was the epicenter of this enterprise, with about 4,000 stills operating in the mid-18th century (for perspective, the population was around 20,000). Whiskey was a great way to utilize excess grains, and for Pittsburgh, that grain was rye from the Monongahela River Valley. Rye, like wine grapes, is most distinctive when grown in poor soils, and the valley’s composition of clay with some sand, silt, and gravel makes for low yields and high quality crops. We don’t usually think of American spirits as showing terroir, but whiskey made from these fields has a spicier, more robust profile than their cousins from the south. Unfortunately, today’s whiskey drinkers have not had the opportunity to try this style of rye as Pennsylvania was without a distillery until the last decade. Enter Wigle: Pittsburgh’s first new distillery to open since America’s prohibition. The name Wigle comes from Philip Wigle, a Pittsburgher who in the 1780s refused to pay a whiskey tax and sparked the Whiskey Rebellion. Today’s Wigle is far less confrontational, as the distillery is a family affair and committed to being a constructive part of Pittsburgh’s community. All of the grain is sourced from the soils of the Monongahela River Valley, within 300 miles of Wigle’s location. Wigle is committed to non-GMO, organic grain, and support local farmers working organically by purchasing 3 tons of grain a week that is then processed at Wigle’s on-site grist mill. You won’t find industrial column stills here: the less efficient, but higher quality pot stills are used to create a spirit that still carries much of the grain’s original flavor. There are very few distilleries in the world that take such care in sourcing locally to craft a product that is a true reflection of place and a part of America’s potable history.