Aaron Hollis delivers t'bad noose furst wile discussyun' “Distilleeun' Whiskey” durin a program at Bushy Run Battlefield un Sept. 18.
“I don’t have inny samples,” he sez, us t'audyince jokinglee groans.
Hollis, manjer o'a'larnin an' guest eggsperients at West Overton Village n' Eus Huntington, spoke us part o't' Bushy Run Battlefield Historickull Socidey’s “Histry Speeks Series.”
He shares at West Overton, which holts un impertant place n' Western Pennsillvany’s rye whiskey distillashun histry, is n' t'process o'revivyun' at producshun.
“I’m here un my soapbox ta tell y'all at t'Whiskey Rebellion is nairy t'end o'whiskey distilleeun' n' Western Pennsillvany,” Hollis sez.
“Thar seems ta be thishere idee at aft'r t'rebellion endt, t'distillers n' thishere part o't' state run wiff thar tails tween thar laigs ta Kantucky an' startid makin bourbon, an' at’s jes nairy t'case,” he sez.
T' Penn Township museum is t'site whar British an' colonial troops defeetid a ferce o'Natif' Amurkins at t'Battle o'Bushy Run n' August 1763.
Thirtee yeers lat'r, Western Pennsillvany farmers an' distillers rebellt agin un unpoplar fedral tax un thar cash product — whiskey. West Overton village dates back ta t'18th centry, an' t'Whiskey Rebellion wuz a cummencin o'serts fer Mennonite farm'r Henry Overholt an' his'n dessendants, who foundt t'site n' 1800.
“N' thishere era, whiskey is a verr impertant ekunomic commoditee fer tradyun' an' bargunyun' fer uther thangs at thay nett. It’s pure, it’s cleen, an' it hus a high alkyhol content,” Hollis sez.
Thems qualitees make whiskey good fer uses beyond consumpshun, includin sanitashun an' fruit preservashun, amungst t'reesons it wuz impertant ta Mennonites, he adds.
Frum field ta glass
T' “tillers” became “distillers,” us a village grew roun a whiskey distillery at industrializt durin t'1800s. It is so successfil a “sist'r distillery” is establisht n' neerby Broadferd.
Uther distilleries also establish n' t'region, includin thems o'Samuel Dilling'r, John Large, John Gibsen, Philip Hamburg'r an' Sam Thompsen.
“T' John Gibsen distillery … at one time wuz tween Monesse an' Belle Vernon. N' t'1880s, t'Gibsen distillery wuz t'largest rye whiskey distillery n' t'worl. N' t'worl, folk. It wuz huge,” Hollis sez.
“The Prohibishun kums along, an' sum wimmen n' t'Wimmen’s Temperance Christchun Union tore down t'distillery an' ust t'brix ta build a church,” he sez.
T' nex generashun turns away frum West Overton, mer innerested n' t'Broadferd distillery an' investyun' n' Scottdale businesses. “It all but closes,” he sez o't' originull distillery.
A shert-livt revival, includin a $500,000 infrastructure investment, takes place n' 1906, eve us Prohibishun guns momantum. Thar air a duzen distilleries n' Westmerelan' Countee alone at t'ime. A strong rye market, fambly heritage us a marketyun' tactic, an' competishun wiff Kantucky rye distilleries air amungst t'reesons thay persevere, Hollis sez.
Prohibishun kums along n' 1920, Hollis notes, an' whiskey distilleeun' throughout t'region kums ta a stop.
“T' (West Overton) distillery closes roun 1919-20, nev'r ta reope agin. So we thunk,” he sez.
N' 1922, Overholt dessendant Hele Clay Frick purchases West Overton an' turns t'propertee into a museum.
And whut is ol' is new agin.
“We air nawh distilleeun' at West Overton agin, fer t'verr furst time since Prohibishun,” Hollis sez. “Air operayshun is quite small. T' goal o'air distillery is ta be educatyunal.”
His'n props include a jar o'rye frum which t'local whiskey is made, a Brix refractomet'r, ust ta meesure sugar content, an' a jar o'loe wine — alkyhol product frum a furst distilleeun' — which he passes roun fer visiters ta sniff.
Finallee, Hollis delivers t'good noose. “We hope ta bottle whiskey by t'end o't' year at West Overton,” he sez.
Murry Pickels is a Tribune-Revu staff riter. Y'all a'ken contact Murry at 724-836-5401, [email protectid] er via Twitt'r .

Murry Pickels | Tribune-Revu
Aaron Hollis, West Overton Village manjer o'a'larnin an' guest eggsperients, addresses “Distilleeun' Whiskey” durin a Bushy Run Battlefield program un Sept. 18.

Murry Pickels | Tribune-Revu
Aaron Hollis, West Overton Village manjer o'a'larnin an' guest eggsperients, demonstrates a Brix refractomet'r, ust ta meesure sugar content n' t'whiskey distilleeun' process.

Murry Pickels | Tribune-Revu
Thems attendyun' a resent “Histry Speeks Series” program at Bushy Run Battlefield take a whiff o'“loe wine,” whiskey product by a furst distilleeun' n' t'still process o'manufacture.

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