Local whiskey relabeled after legal battle

Lenay Ruhl//August 5, 2015

Local whiskey relabeled after legal battle

Lenay Ruhl//August 5, 2015

Stoll and Wolfe is the new brand name for the product made by Erik Wolfe and Dick Stoll, the founders of Heritage Spirits in Lititz.

Bomberger’s Whiskey was a rye distilled in Schaefferstown starting in 1860. Production ended during prohibition. But the blend was eventually used in the well-known brand of Michter’s, which closed in 1989. Chatham Imports claimed the Michter’s trademark in 2011, began bottling their own version of Michter’s in Kentucky and later introduced a product under the Bomberger’s name.

Stoll and Wolfe began restoring the original Bombarder’s blend and  became snarled in a legal battle with Chatham over the label. Instead of fighting, they decided to rebrand the product.

“It’s still the same recipe,” Wolfe said. “What we really care about is the story behind it.”

In the meantime, Heritage Spirits must relabel all remaining bottles of Bomberger’s Whiskey before being permitted to sell them again. Wolfe has conservatively estimated a cost of $10,000 to redesign and relabel the brand, but he won’t know the actual price tag until it’s all said and done. The lawsuit could have ended up costing $100,000.

The company is submitting the new label this week for federal approval, which usually take about a month. The label will then have to be submitted to individual states. Wolfe predicts the recipe will be back on the shelves by this fall.

“Once we register it through the state, it will hopefully be back at the Bulls Head,” Wolfe said, referring to a pub in Lititz that was serving the recipe prior to the litigation.

The whiskey will also return for sale at locations in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan and Illinois, as well as another 28 states online.

“It really did provide an opportunity for us to re-approach it,” Wolfe said, focusing on the positives such as being able to honor Stoll and his impact on Pennsylvania history by placing his name on the bottle. Stoll was the master distiller for the original Michter’s in Lebanon County.

To Wolfe, the new brand symbolizes “believing in it so much that you’re willing to put your name on it.”

Plans to open a distillery in Lititz for early 2016 are solidified. The building is occupied by another business that is relocating due to expansion. Though Wolfe declined disclose the exact location, the building was previously an old grain mill so construction plans include stripping away modern additions to reveal ceiling beams and historic details of the original structure.

“We’ve had some really big names in the industry give us some great advice,” Wolfe said of the remodel.