Photograph: Magnus

Bomberger’s (Michter’s) Distillery

Bomberger’s Distillery, later known as Michter’s Distillery, may at the time of its closing have been the oldest distillery in the United States. The complex, located near Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania represents the transformation of whiskey distilling from an agricultural enterprise into a large-scale industry. The still house, warehouse, and jug house date from about 1840.

In 1753, John and Michael Shenk, Swiss Mennonite farmers, began distilling rye whiskey at the site. Sometime before 1860, Abraham Bomberger, a Pennsylvania Dutchman, purchased the distillery from the Shenk family. The distillery closed in 1919. With the lifting of Prohibition, Pennco Distillers acquired the property and made whiskey until 1978, when the distillery was sold to Michter’s. The distillery closed in 1989 after Michter’s filed for bankruptcy.

Bomberger’s was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1980.

According to one of Y. Fowler’s websites the site is no longer a National Historic Landmark; however this appears to be incorrect as it is still listed as one by the National Park Service. It is possible that there was a recommendation for removing the designation, but it appears not to have been acted upon.

Today the distillery is severely deteriorated from lack of maintenance. Currently the property is owned a woodworker named Dwight Hostetter, who would like to see the distillery restored. He has been working on restoring the distillery for a number of years, but as only one man it is uphill work.

Recently, bourbon whiskey made prior to the distillery’s closing has been bottled under the A. H. Hirsch label.

Since 2004, bourbon and rye whiskey made in Bardstown, Kentucky has been sold under the Michter’s label, currently owned by Chatham Imports, Inc.

About the distillery

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