Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wigle Whiskey Makes Friends with Its New Spring Garden Barrelhouse

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wigle Whiskey Makes Friends with Its New Spring Garden Barrelhouse

Article excerpt

Noah Sweat, a Mississippi legislator, famously argued both sides of whiskey - that which leads to ruin and that which brings people together in good cheer, enables conversation, provides a diversion from rocky roads and, of course, revenue.

His 1952 speech is one of the best examples of how to see both sides of a controversial topic.

When Wigle Whiskey opened its Barrelhouse in an old produce warehouse at 1055 Spring Garden Ave. in Spring Garden on May 31, my first thought was "uh-oh." Establishing 6,000 square feet of anything usually prompts a little opposition due to worries about traffic, parking and noise.

"We've had absolutely no push-back," said Wes Shonk, Wigle's historian and sales and service rep. "In fact, a neighbor offered his parking spot. People stop in to say hello. They tell us where the stores used to be and say they're happy to see new life here."

I walked the avenue and knocked on doors to find out if there was opposition. The neighborhood gave off vibes of having been evacuated. Two men on the street and a woman who answered her door said they had no gripes. I called Bernie Grady, president of the Community Alliance of Spring Garden-East Deutschtown.

"I haven't heard anything negative and everybody has my phone number," he said. "I think it's a big plus for the neighborhood. I live two blocks from there and have been twice. It's a destination."

Spring Garden's gracious reaction may point in part to its severe population decline since 2000. Maybe people think a little buzz in the neighborhood is kind of nice.

Wigle Whiskey opened its distillery in the Strip District in the fall of 2011. It was the first legal distillery in Pittsburgh in more than a century, and its mission was to bring back what had been a tradition older than steel.

Mr. Shonk said Monongahela Rye, which Wigle has imitated, was made locally from the 1700s to Prohibition. …

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