Prentiss Orr, co-owner of Glenshaw's Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, tempered his expectations when the first shipment of Boyd & Blair vodka was sent in August 2008.
"We thought if we could do 5,000 cases, that would be pretty cool," he says. "We hit that a long time ago." In fact, the brand — which is now on the shelves in 35 states — is projected to sell more than 10,000 cases this year.
With the vodka label, the company's signature beverage, on firm footing, the distillery is slowly introducing a line of new products. "Instead of rushing too many things out at once, we got our vodka business where it needed to be," says distiller Rob Ricci. "We've really taken our time developing new products."
The first release is Stonewall Rum, named for the fences that separated properties in the early U.S. colonies. "It's as classic a colonial rum as we could get: It's molasses-based and lightly oaked," says Ricci. The aroma has notes of honey and ginger ale, while butterscotch and soft wood are noticeable when drinking.
The rum is distilled in small batches, so availability is limited. You can purchase a bottle ($27) directly from the distillery, or find it behind the bar at Butterjoint, Point Bruges, Park Bruges and Root 174. "We haven't been advertising it, because we're moving through so much of it," Ricci says.
Next up for the distillery is a vermouth concentrate, now in the final stages of obtaining government approval. The vermouth is 88 proof, and can be mixed into red or white wine, or used on its own as a base for a cocktail. Famed Chicago barman Adam Segar created the recipe (PA Pure also produces Segar's "Hum" spirit, which is not distributed in the state). The botanicals are sourced by Rod Markus of Rare Tea Cellar.
"The way our company has grown is mind-boggling," Ricci says. "I never thought when I started here that this is where we'd be in five years."