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Western Pa. distilleries win big in American Craft Spirits Association judging

Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania distillers cleaned up in this year’s American Craft Spirits Association Spirits Judging Awards, where a rum made in Pittsburgh was named the best spirit of them all.

Allegheny Distilling, the Strip District maker of Maggie’s Farm Rum, won the big one -— best of show spirit -— with its Maggie’s Farm Single Barrel. That rum won the gold medal for rum, as did its Queen’s Share Rye Oak Aged Rum.

The Single Barrel also was named best of class rum and best in category -- a subset under best of class -- for aged rum.

Tim Russell’s distillery also won silver medals for Maggie’s Farm Queen’s Share Unaged Rum and Queen’s Share Bourbon Oak Aged Rum and won bronze medals for Maggie’s Farm White Rum and Spiced Rum.

The Strip District’s Wigle Whiskey, as Pittsburgh Distilling, won a dozen medals, co-owner Meredith Grelli emailed from the Distillers Convention and Vendor Trade Show in Chicago after Wednesday’s nights awards ceremony at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel. Its gold medal-winning Organic Pittsburgh Straight Wheat Whiskey and Wigle Organic Barrel Rested Ginever won best in category awards for the subcategories of wheat whiskey and ginever, respectively.

Wigle won six medals last year; Maggie’s Farm won four medals and best in class rum.

Ms. Grelli, who went on stage Wednesday night to accept Wigle’s awards with her pajama-wearing daughter, Effie, said, “It looks like Pittsburgh has the most awards of any city in craft distilling ... AGAIN.”

And there was more. Competition first-timer Disobedient Spirits — which opened just over a year ago in Homer City, Indiana County -— was thrilled to win five medals, including a gold for its premium vodka and silver for its Blue Dog white whiskey. Its Hoodlebug gin, Solstice spiced brandy and Liberty bourbon all received bronze medals.

“We couldn’t be more proud to bring some hardware home from such a great event amongst so many great spirits producers!” Disobedient’s director of operations, Jordan Gwinn, emailed from Chicago. He said he planned to be back in town to celebrate at the distillery’s First Fridays party.

It was a big night for Pennsylvania craft distilling in general, noted the folks at Pottstown’s Manatawny Still Works, which won five medals.

There were more than 400 entries in the competition -— whiskeys, brandies, gins, rums and various specialty spirits and liqueurs. That made a Pittsburgh rum being named the best of all of them much more intoxicating for Mr. Russell. “WE WON EVERYTHING!!!” he tweeted from Chicago.

The full results have been posted at americancraftspirits.org

Bob Batz Jr.: bbatz@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.


Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Pittsburgh Distilling's best in category awards as best of show awards. The best of show whiskey is Still 630's​ Double Barrel Rallypoint. The best of show gin is New Holland Artisan Spirits' Barrel Aged Knickerbocker.

First Published March 3, 2016 2:14 PM