Award-winning distiller Robert Cassell left Philadelphia Distilling in 2014 to start the New Liberty Distillery in Kensington. What followed was a two-year hiatus, when many thought the master blender was taking a sabbatical. Proving all such assumptions wrong, Cassell recently released the New Liberty Distillery’s first aged whiskey, the Pennsylvania Dutch Malt.
Over these two years, Cassell distilled approximately two tons of local grain on a weekly basis. He then laid the whiskey to age in barrels, stored in stalls of the historic stables behind Philadelphia’s Crane Arts Center.
Ageing is an essential part of the whiskey making process. Around 2000 cases of the Pennsylvania Dutch Malt have been aged, and are ready to hit the market. An additional 3000 cases are still in the ageing process. The Pennsylvania Dutch Malt is made from 100% local barely, obtained from the Deer Creek Malthouse in Glen Mills. One can call the Pennsylvania Dutch Malt America’s latest take on the Single Malt Scotch. But, it is markedly different in its char-forward use of new oak barrels, and the employment a darker Münich-style roasting of the malt grains.
Though relatively young in comparison with its counterparts in Europe, and other North American whiskeys, the taste of grape nut cereals, along with high-quality Pennsylvania grain characterizes the Dutch Malt. It is 102-proof, yet surprisingly well-balanced. The addition of a splash of water brings out the different flavors in the blend. You begin by tasting dark chocolate and spice, which is followed by a dark caramel flavor, ending with a hint of stone fruit.
The New Liberty Distillery plans to launch at least 10 new spirits in the coming months, and we are sure that Cassell will have his hands full.