As they say when it comes to distilled spirits… candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker! As craft beer has made massive gains in the past decade or so, so has the craft and the practice of distilling spirits. Lancaster PA has always been a place filled with craftsmanship and quality- and it isn’t any different today. We are home to numerous craft beer bottle shops, gastro pubs, breweries, and even a meadery. However, we also have two great spirit makers in the heart of Lancaster county and also have quite a few surrounding it.
Today we’ll take time to focus on three great distilleries in the general Lancaster area: Thistle Finch (Lancaster), Stoll and Wolfe (Lititz), and Hidden Still Spirits (Lebanon).
First, we’ll take a look at Thistle Finch in Lancaster. Thistle Finch is still a relatively new distillery, only being founded in 2012. However, they have managed to produce a wide range of products in house with high quality ingredients that can be enjoyed by any patron of their facility.
Their specialty is straight rye whiskey- a once highly popular beverage that is known for its peculiar flavor profiles and its ability to add a highly unique flavor to anything it is mixed with. Whether straight or mixed, you are in for a treat. While rye whiskey isn’t as popular as it used to be, places like Thistle Finch are helping it to make a resurgence in the Lancaster Area.
During their early years, they sold the white spirit (a clear spirit without a long aging process in barrels that adds color and changes the flavor as it matures), but now they also have aged varieties available and continue to age additional spirits for our benefit. They have a Black Coffee and a Black Pepper whiskey as well as their Penn Square Vodka. However, one of their greatest offerings from their distillery is my personal favorite: their Market Alley Gin. I’ve had a lot of different gins in my life, but honestly theirs is my absolute favorite (especially at its price!).
Their pricing is very accommodating considering the quality of their craft, and their bar produces quality mixed drinks for your enjoyment if you’re able to stop in to enjoy them. At one time, their products were only available over the counter at their shop on Grant Street; but now you can find their product (when it’s not sold out) at your local PA Wine and Spirits shop.
The last great benefit to visiting Thistle Finch is that you can also have some beers from their shared workplace brewers, Wacker Brewing. Two producers of quality beverages in one go? You couldn’t hit it harder if you tried.
Second, we’ll take a gander at Stoll and Wolfe in Lititz, PA. Stoll and Wolfe has been available for public enjoyment since 2017. The history of distilling in Lititz dates back to the 1753. Stoll and Wolfe is very new on the scene and features some great rye whiskies. As of now (to the best of my knowledge) they offer a Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey and a Bourbon and Rye blend. I’ve had them both, but my preference leans toward their PA Rye instead of the bourbon blend. Evidently the Ultimate Spirits Competition agreed in 2018 when Stoll and Wolfe’s Rye got into the top 3 finishers.
They have a tasting room at which you can taste their offerings either straight, or mixed with a moderate list of cocktails being offered on a regular basis. They are also working with the last master distiller from the well-known Michter’s distillery, Dick Stoll- who was trained by the grandson of the famed Jim Beam.
If you’re in Lititz and want to try something new, don’t hesitate to give them a try!
And the last distillery to come under the spotlight is Hidden Still Spirits, which has only been around for a few years. It offers the largest variety of spirits from the distilleries on our list. Hidden Still offers a Black Bourbon, a Red Bourbon, a Straight Rye Whiskey, a Vodka, a Spiced Rum, their signature Hidden Still Bourbon, their “Blue Eyed Six”, a White Rum, their “12 Bar Whiskey”, a Barrel Finished Gin, their “Hidden Still Gin”, and finally their “Screwhead Shine”.
If their selection of spirits leaves you feeling a little woozy, know that they also have a full menu complete with starters, salads, small plates, large plates, gourmet hotdogs, a kids menu, and desserts. They also have specials every week on both Wednesday (burgers) and Thursday (bourbon braised ribs) for you to enjoy while you’re sitting in shop savoring their beverages.
While they may be a little out of the area, they are certainly worth the trip and are deserving of your time if you’re interested in trying something new.
Do you have a favorite distillery in the Lancaster area that we’ve missed that you’d like us to try? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll be glad to check it out!