Liberty Pole blows the plug on growth plans | Business
After years of planning to raise their stakes, the owners of Mingo Creek Craft Distillers can raise a celebratory drink.
Mingo Creek, producers of Liberty Pole Spirits, will officially open the distillery campus it is building along Racetrack Road in North Strabane Township on Monday.
This will not be a stereotypical inauguration. Instead of shovels, the ceremony will feature the raising of a liberty pole – usually a wooden pole topped with a “liberty cap”, which served as a symbol of protest during the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. The media event will take place at 9 a.m. at the two-acre construction site at 800 Adios Drive.
The complex will be adjacent to Street at the Meadows, a mixed-use development near the Hollywood Casino at the Meadows, and will more than complement the company’s existing operations at 55 W. Maiden St., Washington.
“All operations will be moving there,” said Jim Hough, co-founder of the distillery with his wife, Ellen, and their sons, Rob and Kevin.
Production of Liberty Pole Spirits, bourbon and other Mingo Creek whiskeys will move to Racetrack Road, along with the aging and bottling processes.
This new campus will include a colonial-themed tasting room and visitor center; a state-of-the-art production facility; and a 3,600 barrel capacity rack house. Craft whiskey cocktails and small bites will be served there, along with tours and tastings, and there will be space for outdoor gatherings and food trucks.
For now, Mingo Creek will not abandon its West Maiden facilities and the popular tasting room there. The Houghs (pronounced “huffs”) have a lease until 2025.
Jim said the new location “will initially triple production capacity from the current location,” adding a 1,000-gallon mash cooker, four 1,000-gallon fermenters and a 1,000-gallon still. Production is initially expected to translate to 30,000 proof gallons, or 550 barrels per year, with production doubling over time.
Vendome Copper and Brass Works of Louisville, Ky., will supply the still, and Deutsche Beverage Technology of Charlotte, NC, will supply the mash cooker, fermenters and process control systems.
The Houghs also work with Pittsburgh-based architectural firm Lab 8 Designs Inc. and general contractor BEAR-IC.
Mingo Creek Craft Distillers, of course, will be the main beneficiary of this project. But the campus development will likely have far-reaching implications, said Jeff Kotula, president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Promotion.
He said in a statement, “Liberty Pole Spirits (has) transformed Washington County on many levels. For our history, they gave us a good understanding of the importance of the Whiskey Rebellion for our county and our country. For our economy, they have created a product that is a source of pride when we market our region. And now, for tourism, they will bring countless visitors to Washington County to tour their campus, taste their whiskeys, and appreciate our heritage.
Undertaking the campus project has been a tedious journey for the owners, who started tinkering with expansion plans a few years ago. Finding project partners, securing funding and navigating municipal approval processes takes time.
The Washington Financial Bank and the Small Business Administration provided financing to Mingo Creek, which also received a $500,000 grant late last year under the Redevelopment Assistance Program. State.
“I feel like we’ve finally come to the end of the road,” said Jim Hough. “Granted, there’s still a long way to go, but that’s been a big part of our workload.”
They opened their business in 2016, weeks after launching Red Pump Spirits Craft Distillers two blocks away on North Main Street. Both operations became Washington County’s first legal distilleries since Prohibition (1920-1933).
“Washington has a rich whiskey history. We were very excited to open in the city,” said Jim, acknowledging local ties to the Whiskey Rebellion, in which farmers and distillers in western Pennsylvania protested the establishment by the federal government of a tax on whisky.
“We are proud to be able to honor these early Pennsylvania farm distillers and the vital role they played in establishing American whiskey,” Ellen added.
Super enthusiastic, apparently, applies to the four Houghs. They’ve all caught the spirit, staging their own “whiskey rebellion” in recent years, leaving professional careers to do so. Jim, who grew up in Munhall, worked in investments. Ellen, who grew up on a farm north of Columbus, Ohio, worked in the oil and gas industry. The sons were mechanical engineers.
Liberty Pole has distinguished itself in national and international competitions, winning prizes for whiskeys that can be purchased at the distillery, on the company’s website for shipping in the state, and in many other locations in Pennsylvania.
He is now ready for a long-awaited growth spurt.