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Old Republic Distillery
Terry Sullivan

Old Republic DistillerySummary: Old Republic Distillery is the first distillery in York County, Pennsylvania. It has two locations, the distillery in Seven Valleys and the tasting room in York. On special Mason Dixon Wine Trail events in March and November, visitors can taste spirits at the distillery. The tasting room is opened Tuesday through Saturday from noon until 7:00 pm.

During the American Revolutionary War it was a practice to pay colonial soldiers with whiskey. It is rumored that there was a whiskey distillery along the Pennsylvania/Maryland border. The Redcoats learned of its location and burned it to the ground. This infuriated the colonial soldiers and may have been one of the events that turned the tide of the war. The distillery was called New Republic. Over two hundred years later, another distillery was created, this time taking the name Old Republic.

Old Republic DistilleryBill Mathias (pictured left) and his sister Denise Mathias are the enthusiastic owners of the distillery. Bill always liked science especially bio-science and physics. He sees distilling as a combination of these two disciplines and feels at home in the distillery. Along with Wayne Critz (pictured right), Bill enjoys coming to work every day and having fun. During our late March visit, the two were working on a white bourbon that they hope to release during the end of summer 2015. They were stirring the corn mash while heating it and carefully monitoring the mixture' temperature. Later they will ferment the mash and then distill the mixture capturing the hearts. Old Republic DistilleryWayne also has a skill with carpentry. He likes to make things out of used barrels. Some of his crafts are in the distillery and in the tasting room, available for purchase.

Meanwhile, Denise operates the tasting room in York. She too shares her brother’s enthusiasm. In order to honor her parents and ancestors, there is a wall of honor in the tasting room. Many in the Mathias family have served in the armed forces. Some of the bottles of spirits tell stories of their family. On the back of the bottle of Love Potion there is the story of Idella Reiter and Raymond Graham. Raymond joined the Navy and served in Europe during World War II. They were later married and had four children while Raymond continued to serve. The Blueberry Apple Pie Moonshine honors Bill and Denise’s uncle John Old Republic DistilleryCalvin Reiter. He served in the US Army during World War II. Love Potion Black Cherry honors their mother and mothers everywhere.

Not only do the bottles honor the family’s military service, some bottles honor the importance of York County. The Apple Pie Moonshine has a picture of the Colonial Court House where the words “The United States of America” were first formally proclaimed. The bottle of Battlefield Vodka describes the Battle of Gettysburg.

Old Republic DistilleryThe Distillery

The distillery is in the small town of Seven Valleys. A large area with plenty of space for growth is used to house equipment to make spirits. Two stills are used to distill. The larger of the two has interchangeable parts. Bill will change some of the parts depending on what type of spirit he is distilling. The distillery only uses non-GMO products. White corn and barley are sourced outside the state while some of the fruit is sourced locally. In the future, Bill would like to farm the fruits he uses. Bill would like people to know and appreciate the effort that goes into making a bottle of spirits.

Old Republic DistillerySpirits

We tasted several of the spirits at the tasting room in York. The spirits were 40% alcohol. Battlefield Vodka was a clear color with an alcohol aroma. It was slightly sweet. The Blackberry vodka was a clear color and had a strong aroma of blackberries. There was also blackberries on the taste and a bit of sweetness.

Two liquors were cut to 27.5% alcohol. Both liquors were called Love Potion. The Love Potion Blueberry/Strawberry was a ruby color. It was sweetened with agave. It offered a fruity aroma with blueberries and strawberries on the taste. Love Potion Black Cherry Strawberry was a sienna color. The aroma and taste was reminiscent of black cherries with a hint of strawberries.

Apple Pie Moonshine was unfiltered and made with local apples. It had a burnt orange color and measured at 27.5% alcohol. This best seller was spicy with apple notes. Blueberry Apple Pie Moonshine is also unfiltered and has 27.5% alcohol. It had a lot of flavor with spice and fruit notes.

Old Republic DistilleryEnjoy a visit to the Old Republic Distillery tasting room in York. On Mason-Dixon Wine Trail Events, visit the distillery in Seven Valleys for a tasting and view of the distillery equipment.

Old Republic Distillery
Seven Valleys Distillery facility
47 Cherry Street, Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania
GPS: N39º 51.388’ W76º 46.123’

Old Republic Distillery Tasting Room
2195 York Crossing Drive
York, Pennsylvania
GPS: N39º 57.987’ W76º 46.622’


Article written March 2015


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