By Alyse Horn
If Northsider’s are lacking spirit, look no further – Wigle Whiskey is opening a location at 1055 Spring Garden Ave.
Friday, May 30 will be opening night for the Pittsburgh Distilling Co. Before the party begins at 6 p.m., about 70 participants will help Wigle barrel roll over the McCullough Bridge and into Historic Deutschtown at 5:30 p.m. to the Whiskey Garden and Barrelhouse.
Meredith Grelli, co-owner of Wigle Whiskey, said when volunteers arrive for the barrel roll they will get a shot of whiskey and a t-shirt, and then split into teams of 15 to 20 people. Each team will be given different barrel transportation options, such as a children’s wagon, a wheelbarrow and a 16 person bike. Grelli said Councilwoman Darlene Harris will be on the bike, helping her team peddle their whiskey barrel across the bridge.
“[Wigle] asked if I’d help roll a barrel and I thought it would be a historic event,” Harris said. “I’m glad that we’re getting another business in the community that is happy to work with the community.”
Once teams arrive at the Barrelhouse, they will be greeted by the rest of the party where bands, food and interactive whiskey history stations will be set up to keep attendees entertained until 9 p.m. when the party will move to Penn Brewery and James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy.
Grelli said the distillery chose to end the festivities at 9 p.m. to respect their new neighbors. The regular hours of operation for the Whiskey Garden and Barrelhouse will be Thursday and Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursdays will be set aside for non-profit and start-up organizations that will be able to use the space for whatever its needs are, and a portion of the Barrelhouse revenue from that night will be given to the organizations, Grelli said.
On Fridays there will be a rotating list of programs. Grelli said one of her favorites will happen on June 20, where there will be a bluegrass whiskey tasting accompanied by the bluegrass band Smokestack Lighting.
“We will be serving spirits while [the band] plays songs that correspond to that time in history and the flavor of the spirit,” Grelli said. “It will be a really fun way to learn the history of whiskey in America.”
Saturdays will be dedicated for tours of the Barrelhouse at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and Sundays there will be garden parties in the Whiskey Garden that is attached to the Barrelhouse. Grelli said customers can come in, get their hands dirty planting flowers and help transform the vacant lot, which is attached to the building, into a garden. Wigle will provide cocktails and snacks.
When Wigle was looking for a space to expand from the distillery in the Strip District the team researched a lot of different neighborhoods, but Grelli said what “sealed the deal was the lot that came next to it and [we] wanted to do something with reenergizing vacant lots.”
Grelli said this past fall Wigle knew they would need to take on another location when they were “literally jumping over barrels” at the distillery in the Strip District, 2401 Smallman St. It took the team about six months to find the Spring Garden Avenue location and then a couple of months “building it into a barrelhouse and Wiglfying it,” Grelli said.
Currently there are 535 whiskey barrels at the Strip District location, and Grelli said they hope to fit another 500 at the Barrelhouse here on the Northside.
Grelli said one of the reasons the company is excited about the move is due to the great relationships the distillery has created with other Northside locations such as The Priory Hotel, The Children’s Museum and the Mattress Factory.
“We strive first and foremost to be a community distillery, and this is the Northside’s distillery,” Grelli said.
Admission for the barrel roll at 5:30 p.m. is $15 and $35 for the party at 6 p.m. More information can be found by either calling 412-224-2827 or visiting www.wiglewhiskey.com.