S.S. Brumbaugh’s Pure Rye Whiskey, Part II

There is one other reference to distilling in Bedford County, PA in Ben F. Van Horn’s book, Bible, Axe, and Plow (1985) mentioned in Part I of these posts. The part which follows deals with the S.S. Brumbaugh distillery. It appears in section 3 of the sixth chapter dealing with local industries.

The largest and most famous of the distilleries in Bedford and Blair Counties was the Brumbaugh Distillery which stood at the foot of the mountain on the road to St. Clairsville from New Enterprise. Built around 1860 by Aaron W. Reed, and purchased some twenty years later by Simon S. Brumbaugh, it continued in “production” by his son, Oscar, until 1920. In that year such operations were closed by the federal government in compliance with the provisions of the Eighteenth Amendment (enacted in 1919). The Brumbaugh Distillery’s stock was shipped under government orders to a Philadelphia warehouse. The distillery was padlocked and stood idle until razed in 1961.

Brumbaugh’s “Pure Rye Whiskey” had the reputation of being of a special quality. It is claimed that its “after effects” on those who imbibed for pleasure were not as painful as that of other distillers. While this might be more legendary than factual, Mr. Brumbaugh’s product was in demand over a wide market throughout central Pennsylvania. For some reason not much rye was raised by the farmers of southern Morrisons Cove and he had to have grain shipped in from western states.


The Morrisons Cove Herald’s special edition of July 1, 1971, issued in observance of the Bedford County Bicentennial, included a feature story on the Brumbaugh Distillery. With permission of the publisher, an abstract of the article will be found as Appendix C.

Note re extract: The quotation above is from Ben F. Van Horn’s book, Bible, Axe, and Plow, linked in Part I of these posts. All intellectual property therein or thereto belongs solely to its lawful owner or authorized users, as applicable. Extract is used for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.