Lancaster Pennsylvania Whiskey Past, Present and Future

Pre Prohibition Grain Ledger from Historic Bomberger’s Distillery. 
Photo by Jordan Bush from December 2018 Issue of Lancaster County Magazine

“Whether or not you’re a whiskey drinker, it’s difficult to imagine Lancaster’s countryside filled with rye fields and dotted with distilleries. Such a scenario existed during the 18th and early 19th centuries. According to an article read before the Lancaster County Historical Society in the 1920s, 183 distilleries had existed in Lancaster County in 1813. Twenty-seven years later, just ahead of the temperance movement and the Civil War, the county total fell to 102 distilleries (along with 135 grist mills and eight breweries).

A Perfect Recipe

What was the reason behind the proliferation of distilleries? A need grew out an abundance of rye grain harvested across the region’s farmlands. A surplus of rye could fall plague to ergot mold, a hallucinogenic, which some theorize spurred on the Salem Witch Trials. Rather than let crops go to waste, farmers could preserve their rye yield and turn it into a tradable commodity, a currency by the gallon or barrel.”

Click here to read the full article on the Lancaster County Magazine Site.

Boehm Transitions to Beam

“If I may interject a bit of foreshadowing before we temporarily depart from the subject of Kentucky, it’s of note that many early frontier-bound settlers traveled through Pennsylvania. Jacob Boehm was one of them, emigrating from Germany in 1740 to what is now Berks County, which was once a part of Lancaster County. The Boehm family owned land purchased from William Penn in Willow Street, where the Boehm Chapel stands to this day. The family name later changed to one you may find more familiar, “Beam,” which we see today on thousands of bourbon bottles from Kentucky. In 1788, Jacob moved to Kentucky ahead of a legal revolution in the distilling community.”

Click here to read the full article on the Lancaster County Magazine Site.