Last Updated on June 21, 2021 by Jeremy
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I remember when Wigle Whiskey opened their doors in Pittsburgh. I was so excited that the craft spirits scene was taking off, and eager to get my hands on any of the (limited) concoctions that the distillery was producing.
It is unfortunate to have to admit this, but at the time their namesake whiskeys were not to my liking. I have never been fond of white rye and wheat whiskeys and usually prefer my grain spirits to be aged for several years to get the flavors from the large oak barrels. In being a new distillery, their aging program simply did not exist at the time, so I knew I would have to wait longer for the styles I enjoy.
Although I wasn't fond of the whiskey when Wigle launched, I found myself oddly attached to the Ginever Gin they also produced- another spirit I never really got into the habit of drinking. Soon after I was consuming every cocktail in the city with this delicious spirit and couldn't get enough.
That was in 2012 when Wigle was founded. Fast-forward to the present day, and all that has changed.
A Brief History of Wigle Whiskey
Wigle's story pays homage to Phillip Wigle, one of the instigators of the Whiskey Rebellion tax protest in the late 1700s. At the time, Pittsburgh was the epicenter of whiskey production in the USA, and Wigle (the current distillery, not the man) strives to use the same brewing methods from back then when making their spirits- including using similar technology and local ingredients.
When you visit you'll have to ask the bartenders to tell this one in full, as everyone we've met at both locations is incredibly friendly and more than willing to share the inspiring history of Phillip Wigle and the rebellion.
But the history of Wigle is not what you're here for. You want to know about the alcohol!
An Explosion of Spirits
We paid a return visit to Wigle in June 2015 for the unveiling of their new aged bourbons (which sold out within the week), bitters, and more, and were surprised with how large the collection of spirits in their arsenal has become.
In addition to the gin that we are slightly addicted to, and the white whiskeys we are not, Wigle is now producing rums made from local honey (including a devious spiced variety that rates among our favorites), barrel aged varieties of all of their spirits (yes!), the brand new bourbons we previously mentioned, and an experimental line of whiskeys which recently included a four-grain variety, whiskeys aged in unique barrel woods, and a hops infused creation that left us pondering the combination of such complex flavors.
Now we're talking.
The Strip District Location Now Has a Full Restaurant
In 2020, Wigle renovated their Strip District location to expand into more of the mixed-use building they were occupying. This allowed for growth in their bar space but also to add on a full kitchen menu as well!
The food menu here reads a lot like a gastropub food menu with light appetizers including pierogi, pulled pork chips, dip, and cheese curds; and mains like a Reuben, salmon tacos, and soups and salads.
But buried within this menu are some more unique options as well, like their falafel waffle which was made with falafel batter as a base and topped with sour cream cucumber salad and a house hot sauce. Think of the texture of a waffle with an amazingly crisp exterior but all the flavors of a falafel. It could've used a bit more of the sauces on top, but it was one of the more inventive dishes we've had in recent memory.
Pair that with a cocktail and, well, you can call us happy!
The Verdict on Wigle
After extensive research (okay, three tasting trays with every spirit they offered plus a few cocktails from the bar), we had our verdict: Wigle is getting better and better with each passing year.
While I still do not fancy the white whiskeys, Wigle's selection of craft spirits is not one to scoff at. I'm still partial to their gin, but I am keeping an eye on the new experimental spirits and aged whiskeye that are introduced as they seem to fly off the shelves just as fast as they arrive.
The only hesitation I have in giving higher praise to Wigle is the price tag. Many of the bottles they offer exceed $40 (with aged whiskeys approaching $100), some in 375 mL bottles even, which is enough to give many visitors reason to pause. But as the best part of Wigle's offering is their craft cocktails that can and should be enjoyed during every visit, you do not need to leave the premises with a bottle to experience the best of this distillery.
Wigle's Distillery is located in the Strip District and has private parking for customers. Wigle's Barrelhouse aging facility is located in the North Side at 1055 Spring Garden Avenue as well as tasting rooms at the Omni William Penn Hotel downtown and Ross Park Mall.
Looking for more alcohol in Pittsburgh? Check out Maggie's Farm Rum in the Strip District, Liberty Pole Spirits in Washington, Boyd & Blair Vodka in Glenshaw, Quantum Spirits in Carnegie, or our Pittsburgh brewery guide for local beer!