America's Oldest Distillery

Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania was once home to America's Oldest Distillery.

The distillery was originally known as Shenk's when a Swiss Mennonite farmer began distilling rye whiskey at the site in 1753. According to Pennsylvania legend, when the Continental Army spent the harsh winter of 1777-78 encamped at Valley Forge it was Shenk's Whiskey that General George Washington sought to invigorate the troops.

In the mid-1800s, Pennsylvania Dutchman Abraham Bomberger purchased the distillery from the Shenk family and the distillery became known as Bomberger's.

During the 1950s, one of the distillery's then-owners created the modern Michter’s brand by combining the names of his two sons – Michael and Peter. The distillery closed its doors in 1989 after declaring bankruptcy in the midst of a severely depressed whiskey market.

In 2012, a husband and wife (Erik and Avianna Wolfe) teamed up with Dick Stoll, the former master distiller at the Bomberger Distillery, who was trained by C. Everett Beam and is recognized as the distiller of the legendary A.H. Hirsch Bourbon. Their mission is to protect the past and future legacy of Pennsylvania whiskey.

They began bending and bottling whiskey under the Bomberger's label until the current owner of the Michter's brand, Chatham Imports, slapped them with a trademark infringement claim asserting that they were the rightful owner of the Bomberger's name. Rather than expend the resources to defend the right to use the name, they rebranded as Stoll & Wolfe. Same bottle, same label.

I purchased the Stoll & Wolfe bottle (Batch 1) last November through Pennsylvania's online store and my wife found the Bomberger's bottle (Batch 2) sitting on a shelf in a liquor store in Connecticut last week. Both bottles are sourced whiskey.

Batch 1 of Stoll & Wolfe is a blend of 2 1/2 year MGP Bourbon (75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Malt) and 2 year Straight Rye Whiskey from Death's Door Distillery.

Batch 2 of Bomberger's is a blend of 2 1/2 year MGP Bourbon (75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Malt) and 3 year McKenzie Rye Whiskey from Finger Lakes Distillery.

Stoll & Wolfe's website and local press say that their distillery and tasting room are opening soon. They will be located eight miles from the original Bomberger Distillery in downtown Lititz. They plan to produce a Pennsylvania-style rye whiskey.

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