Over the past 10 years, Pittsburgh has experienced a huge renaissance in almost every cultural enclave. Speaking as a transplant who considers this city her home, among the many things that I'm proud of coming out of Pennsylvania are our distilleries and breweries. Apparently, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board agrees. The PLCB recently announced the launch of the PA Spirits Program, under which licensed limited distilleries in Pennsylvania can sell up to 10 of their products in Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores of their choosing.
In PCLB lingo, a limited-distillery license can be issued through application to "distillers who produce not more than one hundred thousand gallons of distilled liquor per year." As of May, there were 26 active licensed limited distilleries statewide. To date, their products have been available at the distilleries themselves, but have had to compete heavily with industry giants to be featured in state stores.
Why should you, as a consumer, be excited by this program? Essentially, because now Pennsylvania drinkers will have a much wider selection of locally produced liquors available in their communities. In a press release, Board member Mike Negra says that the PA Spirits Program is PLCB's latest step toward supporting local craft-spirits makers. The PLCB has also featured local distillers and wineries in Taste magazine, and installed special "Made in PA" shelving in newly renovated state stores.
In a state with frustration-provoking, Quaker-based liquor laws, this support is a boon for locally beloved places like Maggie's Farm, Boyd & Blair and Wigle Whiskey, and for lesser-known (for now) distilleries across Allegheny County and beyond. It seems that the legacy of the Whiskey Rebellion has not been forgotten.
The PA Spirits application process ended mid-May, and eligible distilleries should begin getting their approvals in the coming weeks. Hopefully, that means consumers will see new products hitting the shelves early this summer. So support your community and your local businesses — and happy investigative drinking!