Whisky Advocate

Whisky Advocate’s 22nd Annual Craft Whiskey of the Year Award

December 4th, 2015

Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye, 45%, $39

I wasn’t that impressed with Mountain Laurel Spirits’ Dad’s Hat rye at first. Like other craft distillers, they had quite a learning curve to overcome. The first few bottlings I tasted were muddled, just not focused on what they wanted to be, and it was likely that the makers hadn’t decided what they wanted it to be yet.


When I first tasted this new bottling at the distillery, back in August, I could see that the whiskey had evolved. Although they have a small amount of straight whiskey aged in 53-gallon barrels, the main label is being bottled at 8 to 9 months old, from 15-gallon barrels. Herman Mihalich—the distiller—is making his cuts to optimize the spirit for that age. Then John Cooper—the blender—samples, blends, considers, and makes the batch.

The result is an excellent young rye. The nose is clean and complex: crushed grain, grasses, sweet spice, and the bitter herbal note of rye. It’s all there on the tongue with a light barrel character, moving to a neatly integrated finish.

It’s locally-grown rye (I drive through some of the fields on my way to the Whisky Advocate offices), 15% malt, and 5% rye malt, a classic proportion for the “Monongahela Red” color and character of Pennsylvania rye whiskey. Rye is all they make, with a couple finishes. The focus has paid off. This is a rye any Pennsylvanian can be proud of. —Lew Bryson

Check back tomorrow for our American Whiskey of the Year announcement.

Photo: Todd Trice Photogrpahy

5 Responses to “Whisky Advocate’s 22nd Annual Craft Whiskey of the Year Award”

  1. Sam Komlenic says:

    Herman and John, thanks for bringing the rye pride back to Pennsylvania. I couldn’t be happier for you!

  2. Would it be at all possible to purchase a bottle for a special Christmas gift? I will pay extra postage if necessary. Thank you.

    • Lew Bryson says:

      We don’t sell whiskey, Jean! You’ll want to contact the folks at Dad’s Hat about that, but they don’t sell by mail either. It’s not easy in the U.S., to tell the truth, but that would be the place to start. Good luck!

  3. Bruce Collier says:

    Astor Wine and Spirits in Manhattan sells it, and they deliver to most, but not all, US states. This award will definitely create a demand for it. Thanks to Mr. Bryson for his writing on this and all whiskeys. Loved “Tasting Whiskey,” a really informative book.

    Bruce Collier

  4. Its crazy stumbling onto this article. We recently had a few of these in our bar and it did rather well. i hadnt heard of it until our rep gave us a few bottles. i can tell you its a hit here in Texas! thanks for the little bit extra knowledge!

© Copyright 2017. Whisky Advocate. All rights reserved.