Philadelphia Distilling, the upstart behind such homegrown spirits as Blue Coat Gin, Penn 1681 Vodka and Vieux Carre Absinthe, are gearing up to begin production of a new product. They’re calling it XXX Shine White Whiskey, a corn based spirit that’s inspired by American moonshine. Master Distiller Robert Cassell says it’s in the final development stages. And while he’s finalizing the recipe and keeping up Philadelphia Distilling’s production schedule, Cassell is also working to help modernize Pennsylvania legislation pertaining to the business of making booze. “Since we started up as a distillery I’ve been trying to change some of the laws as they exist,” Cassell told Grub Street. “Right now we pay the highest licensing fees in the country.”
He said under current rules, licensing fees from the state cost him $5,600 per year. On top of that he must shell out an additional $10,000 a year to the federal government.
“By comparison, New York distilleries licensing fees are $700 a year,” Cassell said. “And they can sell their products on site.”
Costly fees and PLCB red tape has helped keep craft distilling in Pennsylvania scarce. Philadelphia Distilling’s license number is 0003. When Cassell and business partner Andrew Auwerda applied for the license, they had to wait weeks for PLCB’s legal department to draft an application because no one had applied for one since 1853.
He’s currently working on written testimony for Pennsylvania House Representatives, and expects to provide additional testimony once lawmakers decide to hear arguments.
In the meantime Cassell is targeting April to begin production of XXX Shine White Whiskey. He would like to see it on liquor store shelves by summer, but adds “that’s very PLCB dependant.”