Microbreweries Inspire PA Potato Vodka Distillery

Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka (PLCB No. 005936, 80 proof; $29.49) – made with central PA potatoes at the first* vodka distillery in PA since Prohibition – is now available in south-central PA!

According to a report by KDKA, Prentiss Orr was inspired by the craft beer industry, and paired with pharmacist Barry Young to formulate this product, which is named after Mr. Young’s late father-in-law, James Boyd Rafferty, and Mr. Orr’s great-grandfather, William Wightman Blair (details on these two characters can be found on the Boyd & Blair website.)

The distillery is located in Shaler, PA in the former Glenshaw Glass warehouse, and the completely hand-crafted product comes in clear 750 ml bottles sealed in black wax.

Orr and Young’s company, Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries LLC, fulfilled an initial order of 240 cases with the PLCB in an 18-month trial run. It will be sold at Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits stores throughout the Commonwealth, with the exception of the Philadelphia area, and expansion plans will take them into Ohio.

The potatoes are from Keystone Potato Products in Hegins, making this a true Pennsylvania product. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, this is the third potato vodka distillery in the United States. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gives a great explanation of how the hand-crafted process is carried out, and why the choice of potato vodka is such a good one.

* I read somewhere that Philadelphia Distilling, the first craft distillery in the state of Pennsylvania since Prohibition (maker of Bluecoat American Dry Gin) will soon be creating vodka and absinthe. The American Distilling Institute also names Keystone Distilling in Media as maker of Black Rose Vodka, which makes me question the label Sarah Bozich and others have put on Blair & Boyd as “the first”, but I also can’t find further evidence of the distillery or the vodka at Keystone. Can anyone out there confirm?

Going back to the title of this post, it was interesting to learn that Robert Cassell of Philadelphia Distilling came from a microbrewing background with Victory and Harpoon under his belt.

Since it’s stopped raining (for now), I might just go out and get me a bottle. If you do, take a word from Jan Szyrocki, founder and former conductor of the Szczecin Polytechnic Choir – my potato vodka mentorserve it cold and have a shot for each leg! (I’m thankful he didn’t teach me “”God likes a Trinity”, “a good table has four legs” or “see you under the table”!)

Na zdrowie!


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