Last Updated on August 9, 2023 by Jeremy
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There is a lot to love about Pittsburgh distilleries and locally-made spirits. From the numerous options to the great local grains and products sourced, those who love a good cocktail are truly spoiled when it comes to all things local drinking.
In the past, we've liked to highlight the distilleries themselves that we have visited over the years. But in this one, we wanted to shift and look at the spirits as there are five bottles made in Pittsburgh and southwest Pennsylvania that we always seem to have on hand in our home bar.
Liberty Pole Peated Bourbon Whiskey
Pittsburgh has a rich history with whiskey, and the region's Monongahela Rye was one of the first spirits to receive national acclaim shortly after independence. First came the whiskey, then came the tax, next came the Whiskey Rebellion protesting said tax (just outside of Pittsburgh), and fast-forward 225 years or so, and Liberty Pole Spirits opened its doors to honor our region's whiskey heritage.
Although we personally love a dram of a good rye, it is Liberty Pole's Peated Bourbon Whiskey that makes our cut as a top spirit as this bottle hits all the right notes- the complex flavor profile of a bourbon, the peat of a Scotch, and is married together in a flavor profile that even those who are anti-peat can stop and appreciate.
Whether you like whiskey, bourbon, scotch, or all of the above, this bottle should be on your radar and is a staple of ours in our home bar and when giving gifts to out-of-state friends. If there is any such thing as perfection in a bottle, it is this one.
Quantum Spirits Grapefruit Gin Liqueur
Quantum Spirits, based in Carnegie, PA, is a distillery after our own hearts as they use the tagline “Reinventing craft spirits through science”. As fellow Chemical Engineers, we can get behind everything Quantum is doing and are not ashamed to admit that we own almost every single bottle this one makes in our home bar simply because they are that good in cocktails.
But it is not one of the conventional spirits that makes the cut for our best-of list, but instead, is a liqueur. The Grapefruit Gin Liqueur specifically.
This one starts with Quantum's easy-drinking gin and loads it up with the zest of 500 grapefruits per batch, macerated, and proofed down to 65 proof (32.5%) for a liqueur that can be enjoyed on the rocks as much as it can in a cocktail or, our preferred beverage, a gin & tonic.
Just be prepared to have a couple of bottles on hand because this one is known to disappear quickly shortly after it is opened!
Note: In 2023, Quantum Spirits closed their public tasting room in Carnegie but still produces spirits commercially.
Maggie's Farm Hidden Harbor White Rum
Did you know Pittsburgh is home to a specialty rum distillery, Maggie's Farm Rum? Not only are they one of the most award-winning rum distilleries in the country, but they also have a lineup of products that is sure to please even the most discerning palate. We would know, we've taken some opinionated rum die-hards here and all have left as fans.
This distillery makes our list for not one but two products, and first, we have to share their stellar Hidden Harbor White Rum- a collaboration with Hidden Harbor tiki bar in Squirrel Hill.
This rum is unique in that it contains Maggie's Farm's White and Queen's Share rums, as well as a mix of rums sourced from all over the Caribbean (Jamaica, Guyana, Martinique, Barbados, and Trinidad, specifically). It comes together for a delightful blend of rum that has a complex flavor profile, perhaps a mild funky bite, and is bottled at 100-proof to make your cocktails sing.
Is it cheating to include a bottle in this list where some of the products are sourced outside of the city? Maybe. But this is a sign to just how good this bottle is all the same. Now if you excuse us, we are suddenly craving a tiki drink.
Quantum Spirits Marquette Liqueur
Okay, fine, we really like Quantum Spirits. But for our second feature from this gem, we move to yet another liqueur, their Marquette Liqueur!
This one is made in the style of a red vermouth and is infused with a wealth of herbs, spices, and rooibos tea for good measure. As lovers of Manhattans, Negronis, and more, we go through a lot of vermouth and having this locally made liqueur is one we always keep on hand!
Maggie's Farm Queen's Share Rum
Finally, we return to Maggie's Farm for what is some of the best aged rum we have ever had- in the Caribbean or otherwise.
The Queen's Share method of distillation collects the tails of a distillation run, redistills them to concentrate the flavor, are aged for 3-5 years in various casks ranging from apple brandy to sherry, and is generally released at cask strength- around 110-115 proof.
This is not a cocktail rum, this is a sipping rum.
While I, personally, do not seek out spirits when they are released in an array of cask finishes, mostly because it becomes cost prohibitive and also a volume concern for my bar, I make an exception for Maggie's Farm's Queen Share. This is a bottle I buy, without fail, on every single release. They live on our special shelf and get busted out on special occasions only- just as a stellar (and rare) spirit should be.
If you fancy yourself a rum sipper, scoring a Queen's Share bottle on release is a must. Just act fast as this one sells out in a hurry!
Do you have a favorite spirit made in Pittsburgh? Or maybe you love one of the products featured in this list? Comment below to share more!
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