By late summer, Pittsburghers will be able to sip cocktails at a full bar at Wigle Wiskey, as the Strip District distillery will undergo a significant expansion to double its space.
Wigle this week purchased two buildings for $2.2 million that share the address of 2401 Smallman Street, including their current site, which they had been renting for the past nine years, co-owner Meredith Meyer Grelli told The Incline on Friday.
Wigle’s updated tasting room and production area will comprise 7,000 square feet. The tasting room, which is housed in a pre-Prohibition brewery will be expanded to include a full bar with up to 50 seats, plus an additional space for another 50 seats. The guest area — including space dedicated for tours and community programs — will grow into the first floor in the adjoining three-story building.
That also means more whiskey, as there will be more space for production.
“It will allow us to more efficiently produce, and we will grow production fairly significantly,” Meyer Grelli said. “And it’ll also relieve our production team from some of the pressure they feel on space.”
The move will give the production team a dedicated space to work. Because of strict safety standards, guests are not allowed to be near production equipment during the distilling process, she said.
“This will allow us to not compromise on either — the guest experience or the production,” Meyer Grelli said.
The tasting room and production area will remain untouched throughout construction, she said, adding that “guests can come and go as they normally do.”
Inside a Wigle bottle labeling party.Photo by John Tarasi / Courtesy of Wigle Whiskey
When Wigle first moved into the Strip District nearly a decade ago, they didn’t anticipate all the space they would need, she said. But as the distillery has grown, they’ve been out of space for the past five years.
Though the buildings are attached, they have different architectural styles. In years past, they’ve housed an office building, Pittsburgh Wool Company, a car machine shop, and part of Otto Milk.
“We’re able to push out into the front part of the building, which has these really beautiful historic round windows,” she said.
Wigle’s leadership is working with a team of local designers and architects to reimagine the space. They hope to begin construction in late spring, Meyer Grelli said.
Wigle Whiskey is Pittsburgh’s first distillery since Prohibition. When Wigle began in 2010, it was still against Pennsylvania law to sell distilled spirits directly to consumers, and the Meyer-Grelli family advocated to change the law. They also took a bet on the Strip District, which has seen rapid growth over the past decade.
Wigle also runs a Barrelhouse in Spring Garden and satellite bottle shops Downtown and in Ross Park Mall, along with its sister site Threadbare Cider & Mead in Spring Garden.
“It’s a great opportunity to grow and improve our guest experience and our production capabilities,” Meyer Grelli said, “and it’s just a relief to know we are secure in the Strip District, which we love.”