Bad year, good cheer: Boost your holiday spirit with Wigle Whiskey and Threadbare booze


Booze has always been an integral part of the holiday season. In a horrific year like 2020, everyone, including Santa Claus, could use a stiff drink.

Luckily, Pittsburgh has Wigle Whiskey.

Throughout the pandemic, the Strip District distillery and its sister business, Threadbare Cider House & Meadery in Spring Hill, have been cranking out more libations than ever before.

Co-owner Meredith Meyer Grelli compares the enterprise to a coal-fired boiler.

“You can’t ever let it die,” she says. “We’re working hard to keep the embers glowing.”

Over the next five weeks, the hard-working crew is releasing 16 products to brighten your yuletide celebrations. Holiday offerings will be ready for pre-order, shipping and pickup the week of Nov. 16. The first 250 orders placed online and picked up at a Wigle location – the Smallman Street distillery, the bottle shop at Ross Park Mall or the pop-up store at Bakery Square in East Liberty – will get a free bottle of City of Champions Hand Sanitizer. Spend at least $100 and the shipping’s on Wigle, plus they’ll throw in a $10 gift card.

Here are a few highlights:

Pharmacy Flask Kit ($65)
Looking for the perfect pandemic stocking stuffer? Opt for this three-bottle flask set, which comes in a Prohibition-themed gift box. Wigle’s Straight American Whiskey, Straight Rye Whiskey and Gin have been cheekily rebranded as “Quarantine Solution,” “Conversation Fluid” and “Eye Opener Extract” respectively. Back in the ‘30s, whiskey was lauded for its medicinal values. Nearly a century later, that still rings true, but use common sense when kicking back “grandpa’s cough syrup.”

Ready-to-Drink Cocktails Flask Set ($49)
For boozy box set without the quarantine theme, there are three of Wigle’s ready-to-drink cocktails packaged together. The set includes a Bottled Manhanttan, Old Fashioned and the new Bird in Hand, a Sazerac made from Pennsylvania Rye, Absent Minded Absinthe and aromatic and rosemary lavender bitters.

Peach Brandy ($65) and Apple Brandy ($37)
Wigle took 2,500 peaches from Andrews Fruit Farm in Adams County, Pa., fermented them using a specialty wine yeast, aged the liquid in a used bourbon barrel and filtered and diluted it to 80 proof. The result is just peachy, with notes of vanilla and brown sugar.

The Apple Brandy is made with 100 percent locally pressed apples and a small amount of sugar aged in 53-gallon American oak casks. Pair it with mom’s homemade apple pie and you might just conjure the spirit of Johnny Appleseed.

Sweet Mead
Grelli is most excited about Sweet Mead, Threadbare’s first stab at the style. Made from a blend of local spring and fall wildflower honey from Bedillion Farms, the mead was aged in French oak barrels for more than two years. At 14 percent alcohol by volume, a few sips will get you buzzed.

Sweet Cranberry, Sweet Cherry and Gingerbread ciders ($18 each)
The cider house has been bumping all summer to produce these holiday specialties that are the perfect accompaniment to festive meals.

If you’re looking to treat yourself, visit the distillery for a night out. Wigle’s full-service restaurant debuted on March 13, but, due to COVID-19, had to shut down 48 hours later. It includes a bar, retail bottle shop, dedicated tour and event spaces and an interactive museum featuring historical vignettes detailing Western Pennsylvania’s whiskey heritage.

The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner (and brunch on Sundays). Executive Chef Dan Okren is whipping up some inspired dishes, including a pork chop that’s breaded and butter-fried with mustard-horseradish beet puree, fennel, kale, garlic, thyme and lemon. Pair your entrée with the chef’s namesake cocktail, The Sour Okren made with Walkabout Apple Whiskey, maple syrup, lemon, egg white and cinnamon.

Can’t sit and stay? Wigle hosts drive-thru dinners for two each week. The Nov. 14 event includes two strip steaks topped with an apple brandy jus, roasted kale and mushrooms with a side of buttery mashed potatoes and a 375 mL bottle of Apple Brandy for $80.

Takeout –