SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ Plus) — A new whiskey distillery will be coming to Somerset County next year.
“It was an awesome spot so we couldn’t just let it go,” says Maximilian Merrill, President of Ponfeigh Distillery.
Ponfeigh Distillery will be at the Old 84 Lumber on Stoystown Road that has been vacant for the last five years.
Merrill says his inspiration for distilling whiskey came from their family farm.
“On the edge of Ponfeigh Farms is an old hunting cabin that my great-grandfather and his friends used to drink their libations out of the public eye. They were old rye bottles in the basements and in the rafters and for 76 years it’s been a hunting camp where us guys like to go down there away from civilization and away from the public eye and play cards and drink a little whiskey every now and then.”
He says he wants to revive what was forgotten when alcoholic beverages were banned during the prohibition in the 1920s.
“I’ve studied that culture for the last 20 years and learning about the whiskey heritage in Somerset County and how much was lost, I always wanted to bring some of it back.”
His $3.5 million whiskey campus will begin construction in two phases.
“Of course the main distillery and grain bins that will be behind me here and what we call the auditorium. In phase two, we’ll be constructing our second storage facility and the whiskey museum dedicated to Somerset County whiskey production.”
The campus will also include lots of outdoor seating and an auditorium for live music.
Ron Aldom, with the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce, says it will be huge for the area.
“It’s creating another avenue to attract people here, keep people here, bring people back. At the end of the day, they stay in hotels, they eat in restaurants so it’s the full package.”
Merrill expects construction to begin in June and says they’ll start the aging process shortly after.
“Grain specialist and I will be driving four tractor-trailers worth of Pennsylvania Rye down to our sister distillery which is Southern Distilling in Statesville, North Carolina. We’ll be producing 200 barrels that we will be transporting back here even before construction starts so that the aging process can start early. Once we open our doors, we’ll be able to sell a product as quickly as possible.”