Stoll & Wolfe distillery 6

Stoll & Wolfe's newest whiskey was made with heritage rye that hasn't been grown or sent through a still in decades.

Last year, Stoll & Wolfe made a special batch of whiskey, one made from a heritage grain that fell out of favor decades ago.

Now, the Lititz distillery is releasing what it calls the first rosen rye whiskey in Pennsylvania in nearly 30 years. Stoll & Wolfe only had enough of the heritage grain to produce 60 bottles yet there’s a lot of interest in the new-yet-old whiskey. So the distillery has a lottery for the limited-edition release. Entries need to be in by Feb. 28.

The batch of whiskey is made with rosen rye, a grain that used to be grown for cattle feed and whiskey. However, the crop was easy to cross-pollinate with other types of rye grown nearby. Also, newer varieties brought even higher yields and were disease-resistant, says Greg Roth, a former Penn State Extension grain specialist. Eventually, farmers and distillers moved away from rosen rye.

But whiskey connoisseurs were interested in rosen as a heritage grain to revive. Penn State also saw these heritage grains as a new crop for farmers.

Delaware Valley Fields Foundation, the group behind the American Whiskey Convention, created Seed Spark to do that, hoping the growing of grains will boost economies and create an industry unique to Pennsylvania. This project started with 25 seeds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It took a few years but eventually there was enough for a batch of whiskey.

Dick Stoll and Erik Wolfe used the grain to make a batch of whiskey in the fall and now it’s ready.

How does the lottery work?

  • Sign up for the lottery on Stoll & Wolfe’s website by Friday, Feb. 28. (Only those age 21 and older can register for the lottery.) Sixty bottles will be available.
  • People whose names are picked will get an email invitation Saturday, Feb. 29, to purchase a bottle. Bottles are 375mL and $55 with $25 going to Penn State Agriculture Department’s heritage grain research.
  • Bottles need to be claimed at Stoll & Wolfe’s tasting room in Lititz in 10 days.

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