Gallows Hill Spirits Celebrates Salem Witch Trials Mar 8, 2018 5:22:32 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Mar 8, 2018 5:22:32 GMT -5
Gallows Hill Spirits Celebrates Salem Witch Trials
ALLENTOWN, Penn. – At the new Allentown distillery, Gallows Hill Spirits, the Salem witch trials aren’t just a quirky theme; they’re part of owner Bob Piano’s family history. Using Ancestry.com, Piano traced his lineage back 10 generations to his “eight-times great-grandfather” Samuel Wardwell, who was executed during the trials in 1692. Piano’s new business at 2200 S. 12th Street, which held its grand opening Friday, March 3, combines that ancestry with his passion for distilling liquors like rum, vodka and more.
At Gallows Hill’s tasting room, you can sip spirits while learning about the witch trials, which led to the execution of 20 people in Massachusetts between during the year 1692. “It’s part museum and part old-timey tavern,” Piano said.
Behind the bar is a reproduction of the façade of Salem’s “Witch House,” the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, who presided over most of the witch trials. Customers are greeted by a two-thirds-scale replica of the “Witch House” sign that hangs in Salem. On the walls, you'll find tributes to all 20 people put to death during the trials, as well as a reproduction of the indictment of Piano’s ancestor Wardwell.
The distillery’s name refers to the spot where the alleged witches were hanged, and spirits’ labels also harken back to the Puritans. Tituba’s Silver Rum is named for the slave woman of the Reverend Samuel Parris who was among the first accused after she reportedly introduced the girls magic and spells, while the Soothsayer Vodka is inspired by Piano’s ancestor Wardwell, who was said to be able to predict the future.
The initial spirits, which also include a moonshine-like “specialty spirit” called Moonstone Rune, are all clear liquors because they don’t require aging. (The distillery plans to introduce liquors aged in barrels farther down the line.) All 80 proof, the three spirits are smooth, without a ton of bite, Piano explained. A cream liqueur at 40 proof called Chai Milk Punch is also set to debut soon.
Piano admitted there’s not much tying liquor to the witch trials, aside from his interest in both. In fact, liquor wasn’t even his original bailiwick. For 25 years, he was more interested in brewing beer and became part of the local community of brewers. Gallows Hill co-founder Scott Minnich, for one, is president of Lehigh Valley Homebrewers.
But despite his love of beer, Piano, whose background is in information technology, was deterred from starting his own brewery by the abundance of upstarts saturating the craft beer market. Distilling spirits, he figured, offered a better opportunity while allowing him to make use of his fermenting know-how. Beer isn’t totally absent at Gallows Hill, though: Four taps feature offerings from local breweries.
While Gallows Hill doesn’t have a kitchen, food trucks such as Vince’s Cheesesteaks and Brisket King will be on hand to feed patrons. The distillery will also experiment with hosting live music, but will keep it low-key. “I don't want people to have to shout,” Piano explained.
Gallows Hill Distillery is open Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. There’s free parking in the front lot. For those using a GPS to find the distillery, Piano recommends entering the business name rather than the address.
Source: Andrew Doerfler, LeHighValleyLive, March 4, 2018.