In 1794, an amiable whiskey-lover named Phillip Wigle got in over his head. All he wanted was the right to distill in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – but the tax collector wouldn't have it. In the struggle to defend his right, Wigle unwittingly helped spark the Whiskey Rebellion, in which Western Pennsylvania distillers faced off against George Washington's troops. When all was said and done, whiskey-loving Wigle was sentenced to hang.
Wigle Whiskey is named for this spirit's patron saint of sorts, and his brave battle to preserve Pittsburgh's storied whiskey tradition. That tradition goes all the way back to the 1700 and 1800s, when Pittsburgh was the beating heart of American Whiskey production. At the height of the whiskey era, there were 4,000 documented stills in Western Pennsylvania – by 1808, Allegheny County was producing half a barrel of spicy, earthy "Monongahela Rye" whiskey for every person living in America!
Fast forward a century or so, and the modern-day Wigle family was at the Shaw Festival at Niagara on the Lake, in the midst of a wine-fueled brainstorm. From a winery tour-induced haze formed the idea of founding a Pittsburgh-based family distillery in the Wigle tradition. The idea gained traction during the car ride back across the border, and Alex and his wife Meredith Wigle had called their friend Eric and wrangled him into the plan (fresh off of a fellowship out west) by the time they were Stateside. The very next week, matriarch Mary Ellen Wigle pinned down a place in Pittsburgh's Strip District, and the rest, as they say, was history.
As a craft distillery, Wigle produces all its whiskey from scratch using local, organic grain. They mill the grains onsite the same day to ensure freshness and keep batches small, distilling in a traditional copper pot. It will be a while before they're producing enough to be able to distribute in New York, but until we can sell their whiskey, we're thrilled that they also make delicious bitters in killer flavors like Rosemary Lavender and Molé, using the same handcrafted, passionate attention to detail.
But the really important thing, which you've probably been wanting to know all along, is this: it's pronounced "Wiggle." Truly a name to toast to.