Old Republic Distillery moonshines come in Blueberry Apple Pie, Apple Pie and Love Potion. Each shares a story related to York County history.
Old Republic Distillery moonshines come in Blueberry Apple Pie, Apple Pie and Love Potion. Each shares a story related to York County history. (Old Republic Distillery photo)

The Battle of Gettysburg has inspired books and works of art since the first shots were fired 150 years ago.

Now, it has inspired a vodka.

At Old Republic Distillery in Seven Valleys, every bottle tells a local story.

Heritage: On Friday, the county's first distillery since Prohibition will launch its Battlefield Vodka, telling the story of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War.

As the label of the 80-proof libation explains, more than 50,000 soldiers lost their lives in the three-day fight at Gettysburg.

"To this historic event and the sacrifice for freedom, we raise our glass," the label says.

Honoring local history is very important to brother-sister ownership team Denise and Bill Mathias, she said.

The new Battlefield Vodka, label shown below, is dedicated to the Battle of Gettysburg and the soldiers who lost their lives there.
The new Battlefield Vodka, label shown below, is dedicated to the Battle of Gettysburg and the soldiers who lost their lives there. (Old Republic Distillery photo)

"We're very proud of our heritage and our area," she said. "York County is such a great place to visit and has a lot of history."

Meaningful: The label of Old Republic's Apple Pie Moonshine explains how York City was once the nation's first capital; Blueberry Apple Pie moonshine honors their uncle who died in the last days of World War II; and Love Potion shares the love story of their grandparents, who met while working at Dentsply in 1943.

Old Republic Distillery plans to add a veteran's memorial wall in the tasting room of the business at 47 Cherry St.

"We are really proud of our veterans and can't thank them enough for what they've sacrificed for us. It's a way to give a little thanks back to them," Denise Mathias said.

Celebration: To remember some of the soldiers and rich Civil War history in the area, Old Republic is extending its hours during the region's 150th anniversary events.

The distillery will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through July 7.

"We're getting in line with the 10-day celebration of the history of Gettysburg," she said.

Normal business hours are noon to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Old Republic opened in March as one of the first distilleries in the state to take advantage of a new liquor law.

Act 113 enabled the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to issue a limited distillery license to distillers that each year produce 100,000 gallons or less of distilled liquor.

The new liquor code law went into effect Feb. 20, 2012, and Old Republic is the first distiller in the York County to get the license.

The name: Its name is, of course, a throwback to history.

During the 18th century, there was a whiskey distillery near the Mason-Dixon Line known as the New Republic Distillery, Mathias said.

The distillery provided whiskey to the Continental Congress until the British found out and burned it down during the Revolutionary War, she said.

"We just want to shine a light on some of the things that have happened here," Mathias said.

Old Republic has sold its liquors to more than 35 bars and restaurants in York County and about 10 more throughout southcentral Pennsylvania.

For example, White Rose Bar & Grill in York City was the first local business to a buy a case of the new Battlefield Vodka, Mathias said.

The distillery is big on local business, she said.

"Most of our products are bought locally, like our apples that come from Brown's (Orchards & Farm Market)," Mathias said. "Local is a big part of everything we do."

-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.