Toast of the town: Stoll & Wolfe Distillery to open on Cedar Street next week

By on October 11, 2017

By PATRICK BURNS

 

The bar at the Stoll & Wolfe tasting room is designed with historic materials, including bricks from the old Rome Distillery that operated many years ago just a few miles to the east.

The three-year journey for Erik and Avianna Wolfe finally ends Tuesday, Oct. 17.

That’s when the couple’s dream of opening Stoll & Wolfe Distillery begins.

“You’ll know where to find me from here on out,” Erik said Monday.

And that would be at the renovated property at 35 N. Cedar St., where they’ll be rolling out Stoll & Wolfe’s single barrel release of its rye whiskey on Tuesday.

“We’ve selected a single barrel of our Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey for a limited release in our tasting room,” he said.

There are only 125 bottles available and there’s a limit of two per customer. The first bottles will cost $70.99, but that price drops to about $40 as newer batches, aged for two-and-a-half years, become available.

“We’ll open with a tasting and bottle sales on Tuesday and then open for real on Thursday, Oct. 19.”

The Wolfes have collaborated with Dick and Elaine Stoll on the project. Dick Stoll, 83, a master distiller of the celebrated Michter’s and A.H. Hirsch whiskies, will oversee production.

The 21-seat intimate tasting room takes up a 1,400-square-foot portion of the building, which also houses Grauer’s Paints. The North Cedar Street property, owned by Todd and Stacy Rucci, fronts the 1,000-square-foot distillery room.

The local tradition of rye whiskey production, which has been on hold here since Prohibition, officially returns to Lititz next week.

There is also wooden bench seating from Sylvan Brandt in the tasting room, which ties into the overall rustic theme that reuses material from old farmhouses and other historic properties.

“The bench is probably from the 1820s,” Erik said. “It was probably a 100-year-old tree before they put it into the barn. To have stuff like that in here for us is just so cool; it makes this place so unique.”

Erik, who had been working with Thistle Finch Distillery in Lancaster to produce a blended whiskey under the Stoll & Wolfe name, is in the process of making the first 30-gallon small batches of rye and bourbon blended whiskeys.

Though there are plans to make brandy and other spirits, the focus now is on making 90-proof rye that is aged 14 months and an 86-proof bourbon rye blend aged four-and-a-half years.

The rye whiskey contains at least 51 percent rye and the bourbon contains a minimum of 51 percent corn, which is purchased locally and is GMO-free.

Rye whiskey and apple brandy were made here as early as the 1700s, Erik said. Rye whiskey production is now returning to Lititz, where it was distilled continuously from the 1700s right up until Prohibition in 1920.

One does not “throw back a shot” from a Stoll & Wolfe whiskey snifter. When it’s the good stuff, one sniffs, savors and sips.

However, Stoll & Wolfe will offer more than just whiskey and other spirits. The business benefits from new Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board rules that now allow the distillery to offer Pennsylvania-produced craft beer and wine.

There will be 10 spirit cocktails on the menu, including Stoll & Wolfe’s vodka and a revolving cask cocktail that could be anything from a gin and tonic to a stinger.

“Our first draught cocktail will be a Negroni, which is an Italian cocktail made from gin, vermouth and bitters,” said Avianna, a native New Yorker who has experience managing Gotham restaurants.

“We won’t have food at first, because the size of the building just won’t permit it,” she said. “But we plan on having food trucks and will allow customers to bring food inside.”

Stoll & Wolfe will also be available for private parties, as Avianna continues to work in the catering business.

Erik and Avianna say their distillery tasting room has a “lived-in” feel, unlike some of their more sterile contemporaries.

“When you’re in Lititz and you know it — the spaces and the history — it’s great,” Erik said. “But every so often, and it’s rare, you find a new building that you haven’t seen before, or you experience a new view of Lititz… We’re always looking for that, being from Lititz ourselves.”

He said he got that feeling recently when he “checked out one of the old Bomberger warehouse buildings where the lumberyard was.”

“It’s so cool to see something you haven’t seen before,” he said. “So we’re hoping it will be like that for folks coming here.”

The property once was home to Eby’s Mill, and even housed a Bomberger’s store at one time.

In addition to incorporating centuries-old wood in the Stoll & Wolfe tasting room, the brick finish behind the bar comes from the former Rome Distillery that flourished for many years just east of the borough.

“We hope it feels like a place your grandparents or great-grandparents could have been,” he added. “It offers a feeling that it’s always been here.”

Stoll &Wolfe will produce spirits using a small pot still, the same way Stoll mastered his craft many years ago.

“The big producers in Kentucky would laugh at us,” Erik said. “We’re sort of like a toy compared to what those folks are using. They’ll spill more in a one day than we’ll produce in one year.”

The smaller batches give the producers more control over the final product. Stoll & Wolfe expects to make about eight barrels a week.

“There’s no automation here. For us, we’re actually standing there manning the pumps,” he said. “As of now, there’s nobody operating anything who’s not a Stoll or a Wolfe. It’s all family run and operated.”

Patrick Burns is social media editor and a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 717-721-4455.

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