On this week’s installment of The NOLADrinks Show with Bryan Dias, we welcome Aaron Selya, head distiller, for Philadelphia Distilling. We talk about their story, the first post-Prohibition distillery established in Pennsylvania, as well as tasting their delicious Bluecoat American Dry Gin, Vieux Carré Absinthe, and The Bay Seasoned Vodka. In addition, we talk a bit with Aaron about his background.
Pictured above from left – Aaron Selya of Philadelphia Distilling and Bryan Dias of NOLADrinks.
NOLADrinks Show – 9-17-18 – Aaron Selya of Philadelphia Distilling
We kick things off talking about this week’s show as well as next week’s which will take place at the famed French Quarter restaurant, Brennan’s. We’ll talk with their sommelier, Braithe Tidwell, about her recent trip to South Africa’s wine country and their participation in the upcoming South Africa Wine Week here in New Orleans in November. We also talk about some of the various stories and legends connected to why we tap our shot glasses on the bar after clinking glasses!
Then, we have our featured interview with Aaron Selya, head distiller of Philadelphia Distilling! We talk about this craft distillery, which was the first to be established in Pennsylvania since prohibition when they opened in 2005. Aaron lets us know about the distillery, their new showcase facility in Philly’s Fishtown, and some thoughts on his first visit to Louisiana and New Orleans.
We also taste through and discuss three of their terrific spirits. First up, is their Bluecoat American Dry Gin, perhaps the first in the country to bear the label “American Dry” Gin. We discuss the difference between this style and the “London Dry” style and other aspects of their gin including the botanicals they use and why.
Then, we move onto their The Bay Seasoned Vodka, inspired by the famed northeast seasoning, Old Bay. It’s their homage to life around Chesapeake Bay and eating crab seasoned in this way. We discuss how they use and developed the flavor profile using essential oils and sea salt. Certainly, it works great in a Bloody Mary but also in several other things such as a spin on a Moscow Mule or a vodka martini where the sweet vermouth plays great with spicy and savory notes.
We close out the radio portion of the show tasting their Vieux Carré Absinthe, which is of course an ode to the French Quarter (or Vieux Carré) neighborhood here in New Orleans. It’s a straight-forward, traditional Swiss or Alpine-style absinthe, which informs the 11 botanicals they use. We touch on the challenges of making absinthe versus many other spirits. However, as Aaron explains, it follows their overall approach of “keep it simple.” Here we get a well-balanced, approachable absinthe that performs great with just a little water – no need to add sugar!
Aaron sticks around for our podcast-only segment, Another Shot with NOLADrinks, where we get more on his background, including his studies in biochemistry, and how he ended up as the head distiller at Philadelphia Distilling. We talk about his passion for the job, approach, and philosophy. We cover more about their sourcing including their use of organic botanicals in the Bluecoat Gin. It’s a fascinating chat with a very talented and engaging distiller!
We close things out with our Parting Shot talking about wine, the challenges of the small grower and winery business, and an odd vineyard theft in Virginia. The map below shows the location of Philadelphia Distilling. Also, you can subscribe to, stream, and download The NOLADrinks Show podcast from your favorite platform in the player and from the links at the top of the post. Thanks to our friends at Sylvain for hosting us during the interview!
Cheers, You All!