City of Washington distilleries win national awards for their products

February 25, 2017
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Michael Bradwell/Observer-Reporter
Ed Belfoure of Red Pump Spirits holds a bottle of his Bradford Blackberry liqueur, which took a bronze medal at the American Craft Spirits Association’s competition in Nashville. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter
Ellen and Jim Hough of Cecil outside their distillery on West Maiden Street in Washington Order a Print
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Less than a year ago, Washington’s two distilleries had yet to open.

Despite their short time in business, both businesses now boast national awards – medallions – for some of their products.

On Feb. 16, Liberty Pole Spirits by Mingo Creek Craft Distillers and Red Pump Spirits took honors for their product entries in a judged competition at the American Craft Spirits Association’s annual Distillers Convention and Vendor Trade Show in Nashville.

According to the ACSA, this year’s competition had more than 550 entrants, a 20 percent increase from 2016.

In a judged competition of craft spirits, Liberty Pole, on East Maiden Street, took home a gold for its peated bourbon and a bronze for its bourbon in the association’s Whiskey category.

Co-owner Jim Hough noted last week that there were only 20 gold medals presented across all classes and only six whiskey distillers to take a gold.

“To be one of those 20 and one of those six distillers to bring home a gold, we’re just blown away,” he said.

Red Pump, on North Main Street, captured a bronze in ACSA’s “Specialty Spirits” category for its Bradford Blackberry liqueur.

Both local distilleries have been open for less than a year.

Red Pump Spirits opened April 1, 2016, making it the first distillery in Washington County since Prohibition. It is operated by Ed Belfoure of South Strabane Township, a retired chemistry instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy. He distills whiskey, vodka and liqueurs.

Red Pump’s liqueurs – Jefferson Peach, Washington Cherry and Bradford Blackberry – are brand names recognizing Washington & Jefferson College and the David Bradford House.

Just a couple of blocks south and west at 68 W. Maiden St. is Mingo Creek Craft Distillers, co-owned by Hough and his wife, Ellen.

The Houghs opened Mingo Creek Distillers in time for last July’s Whiskey Rebellion Festival.

They named the distillery in honor of those who fomented the Whiskey Rebellion, a group of rebels who referred to themselves as the Mingo Creek Society.

The two bourbons for which the distillery was honored by ACSA are under Mingo Creek’s “Liberty Pole” brand, which were used as symbols of support during the rebellion.

The gold captured by Liberty Pole was foreshadowed by the sellout of the peated bourbon over the holidays.

While he’s thinking of adding a single-malt whiskey this year, Hough said he believes in staying small in the tradition of a true craft distillery.

“We do a small whiskey portfolio, and we want to do it well,” he said.

Like the Houghs, Belfoure is catching up with demand from customers he said he underestimated. He’s in the process of building a tasting room in space just behind his shop, something he hopes to complete by his first-year anniversary in early April.

On the move

Two drivers for UPS who are Washington County residents are among 52 of the parcel delivery service’s Pennsylvania drivers to be inducted worldwide into the Circle of Honor, an honorary organization for UPS drivers to achieve 25 or more years of accident-free driving.

J.L. Carter of Monongahela and Todd Shoup of Washington, Both men drive out of the UPS New Stanton depot.

According to UPS, Pennsylvania boasts 335 active Circle of Honor drivers with a combined 9,436 years of accident-free driving. Another Washington resident, Jon Bedillion, is the state’s senior-most safe driver, with 40 years of accident-free driving under his belt. There are 3,468 total UPS drivers in Pennsylvania.

UPS’s 102,000 drivers are among the safest on the roads, logging more than 3 billion miles a year and delivering nearly 5 billion packages annually.

Family First Chiropractic has been selected for the 2016 McMurray Small Business Excellence Award in the chiropractors classification by the McMurray Small Business Excellence Award Program. Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category.

Michael Bradwell has been business editor for the Observer-Reporter since 1995, and was named editor of The Energy Report in 2012. He joined the newspaper in 1990 as a general assignment reporter in the Greene County bureau and has also worked as a copy editor. A 1974 graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a degree in English, he began his career at the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette. Prior to joining the O-R, he served as public relations director for Old Bedford Village, account executive at two Pittsburgh public relations agencies and copywriter for the country’s largest wholesaler of mutual funds.

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