Erik Wolfe of Stoll and Wolfe Distillery

Stoll and Wolfe is a new distillery in Lancaster County Pennsylvania hoping to bring back the long tradition of Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey (read Monongahela!).  While Kentucky has it’s Bourbon and the west coast it’s brandy it is truly the traditional Rye of Pennsylvania (and, although different in character, Maryland) that helped build the U.S. Distilling tradition and it is from this state that the original protesters of the newly implemented (at that time) excise tax launched their “rebellion” in order to free “Tom the Tinker” from the chains of government burden.

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Tell us a little about your background pre-spirits Erik, what brought you into the distilling world?
 Growing up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania I never appreciated our rich agricultural history, until I was working in NYC restaurants. There I was exposed to the local and slow food movements and realized the importance of preserving my own Lancaster County traditions.  As I learned more about our local history, and it’s place in the evolution of American whiskey production, preservation became my mission.  Shortly after my wife, father and I realized,the best path to preserve PA’s rich distilling history, was to produce whiskey in my hometown, to be a part of the distilling revival happening here.
How big of an impact does the history of Pennsylvania’s Rye distillers have on your operation? 
As I mentioned earlier, preservation of local Pennsylvania rye whiskey history – the people, places, and traditions is the reason we started the distillery.  Dick Stoll is the last in a long line of Pennsylvania Distillers that predates our country.  We realized that knowledge was in danger of being lost and are very thankful he chose to partner with us.
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I know Bombergers has been a big part of your focus.  I know you are working with Dick Stoll who was the last Master Distiller of Michters prior to it’s shutdown and subsequent rebirth in Kentucky, how has that been?  
I’m just thankful Dick chose to work with us, It’s been an honor to learn from someone as knowledgeable as Dick Stoll.  I’m lucky enough to learn from someone who learned the whiskey business from the ground up.  Dick worked his way up through the company including working in the barrel house, facility management and maintenance, training under C. Everett Beam, and ultimately becoming master distiller.  Although Dick’s knowledge spans decades he’s a very humble man.
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Are there any specific methodologies you have found reading about the local production that you hope to implement?
We’re sweet mashing our rye whiskey, using Dick’s lactic sour yeast, heat cycling the rickhouse, and using locally grown rye.  We’re also working with our friend and frequent collaborator, Thomas McKenzie, on a three chambered still he recreated.  The three chambered still was used locally to produce a heavy bodied rye whiskey in the late 1800s.
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I know you guys are set up in a pretty cool historic building, can you tell us a bit about the history of that place and why you chose the location?
Our distillery is housed in a feed mill built in the mid 1800s – it’s exciting for us to return it to it’s original purpose of processing grain.  We’ve built as much of the distillery by hand as we can using as much of the original wood as possible.  We’re hoping it gives our production and tasting areas a sense of time and place.
 
What types of stills are you using for production?  Are you using specific varieties of rye and corn as well?
We have a twelve inch column still and copper doubler designed by Thomas McKenzie and made in Kentucky. We’re using Danko and Brasetto rye grown locally.
Tell us a little about the products you plan to produce, give us an idea of the range you intend to develop.

We’ll predominately be distilling rye whiskey, we currently have 30 gallon and 53 gallon barrels aging that we distilled with Dick in Virginia last March.  We’ll continue laying down 30 gallon barrels we plan to age for 1-2 years and 53 gallon barrels we’ll age for 2+ years.


We’ll also produce apple brandy, another historic local product.  We’ll use local  apples and plan on both aged and unaged releases.

With Dick’s illustrious bourbon history and the interest surrounding AH Hirsch, we’ve also received a number of requests for bourbon.  We hope to produce small amounts of bourbon, as well.

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