Zagat: Hewn Spirits Red Barn Rye Is A Must-Try

The reviews just keep coming in. Days after being featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s article on the craft distilling revival, Zagat is calling Red Barn Rye Whiskey “one of the most complex brown spirits we’ve had the opportunity to taste” and New Moon Moonshine “the only ‘great’ moonshine we’ve encountered.”

Secret Spirit: Red Barn Rye From Hewn Spirits
By Danya Henning
Published on Zagat.com July 31, 2014

philly-hewnspirits-credit-danyahenninger-redbarnrye_636_400_85_s_c1If you want to get a jump on your friends and be the one who tells them about the best new whiskey in Philadelphia, you don’t have much time.

Out in Bucks County, where the creeping edge of suburbia finally gives way to rolling fields of farmland, Sean Tracy has been quietly selling his ultrasmall-batch spirits. Up until recently, the only single place to get them — mixed in cocktails or by the bottle — was at the Hewn Spirits tasting room.

Yesterday, Tracy told us he has begun distribution, starting first with a handful of bars out in Bucks, and that his liquors should also soon show up in Philadelphia proper.

Our tip: don’t wait. It’s worth a visit to pick up a bottle at the source, especially for the Red Barn rye, which is one of the most complex brown spirits we’ve had the opportunity to taste. A peppery nose gives way to a rich, full flavor, almost plum-like, and the spiciness returns on the finish. Best part: there is no harsh burn — zero, zilch. That’s also true of his New Moon white whiskey, the only “great” moonshine we’ve encountered, and the Shipmate aged rum.

The secret? Not being greedy. “It’s about how much you cut,” Tracy explains, noting that he uses just the “heart” of the distillation, leaving out a lot of the head or tail end of a distillate.

The other trick up his sleeve is old hardwoods, something he has access to because of his day job retrofitting old barns and turning them into luxury country homes. He ages his spirits with charred sticks of woods you can’t find anymore, like American chestnut, which impart maple syrup like flavors to the booze.

Sold? Craig LaBan just wrote about Hewn Spirits for the Philadelphia Inquirer, in a roundup of our growing craft distilling scene, so the cat is out of the bag. If you want to be the whiskey whisperer, better get in on the action fast.