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Dad’s Hat Whiskey: Herman Mihalich and John Cooper Craft a Long-Awaited Pennsylvania Small-Batch Rye

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Nina Lea Photography
Herman Mihalich knew he perfected his Pennsylvania rye whiskey recipe when it smelled like Sunday mornings. Raised on the second floor of his family’s tavern in Monessen, Pa., the day after a bustling Saturday night meant one thing: cleaning up. Pennsylvania rye whiskey was also his grandfather’s drink of choice. These two indelible memories compelled the University of Pennsylvania grad to pair up with fraternity brother John Cooper in the pursuit of whiskey-making.

Working out of a rehabbed mill in Bristol, the friends debuted Dad’s Hat in 2011. It was the first small-batch rye whiskey produced in the Keystone State in more than two decades. The key to their 90-proof, aged rye and 100-proof, white variety is the Bucks County grain and malt.

Staying true to traditional techniques—some of which date back 200 years—these modern-day alchemists age their rye in 15-gallon, charred-oak barrels in a temperature-controlled climate for six to nine months. The aged rye packs a peppery bite, with bright, fruity nuances and a cinnamony backbone. Its creamy, white counterpart weighs in sharper and is crafted for blending.

Single-barrel releases round out the duo’s repertoire, with limited-edition ryes aged in sweet vermouth and port barrels on the horizon. Aged rye $38.99; white rye $29.99. Visit dadshatrye.com.

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