American whiskey was born in Pittsburgh. Throughout the 1700 and 1800s, Pittsburgh was the epicenter of American Whiskey production. By 1808, Allegheny County was producing half a barrel of whiskey for every man, woman and child living in America. At this time, Americans drank a spicy, earthy Rye Whiskey called Monongahela Rye. At the height of Whiskey making in Western Pennsylvania, there were 4,000 documented stills. Today, Wigle Whiskey is the only whiskey distillery in the region.
Wigle is named for a good-natured man who was sentenced to hang for his unsinkable love of whiskey. In 1794, Phillip Wigle defended his right to distill in a tussle with a tax collector. He unwittingly helped spark the Whiskey Rebellion, which pitted Western Pennsylvania distillers against George Washington's troops.
Wigle Whiskey is working to restore a Pennsylvania tradition championed by these rebellious distillers. We make spirits much the same way Wigle and his friends did when Pittsburgh was the center of American Whiskey – with a copper pot and local ingredients.
Check out this video about Wigle! And come learn about Pittsburgh's rebellious whiskey history on one of our tours (as well as how America became a nation of corn drinkers.)
A note on pronunciation:
We pronounce Wigle like the word "wiggle," because it rolls off the tongue nice and easy. When Wigle was alive, he likely would have pronounced his name with a "V" and hard "i" sound. No matter how you're saying it, it's probably closer to the actual proper pronunciation of his name than how we say Wigle.
How it all got started...
Wigle Whiskey was a wine-induced brainstorm brought on during a family vacation to the Shaw Festival at Niagara on the Lake. After touring wineries, Meredith and Alex suggested a family distillery back home in Pittsburgh. By the time we crossed the border back to the States, we had committed to bringing Whiskey back to its rightful home--Pittsburgh. From the car, we called Eric, who was wrapping up a fellowship out west, and asked him to come home to Pittsburgh to work on the start up. The next week Mary Ellen found our space in the Strip District and the rest is history! As a family-owned and operated small business, we are committed to being a positive part of Pittsburgh's fabric.