Pittsburgh used to be famous for its steel mills, but one of the ‘Burgh’s best new businesses is actually a “still” mill – a.k.a. Still Mill Distillery!

Still Mill Distiller owners Joshua Miller and Kathy Firestine are the two-person team behind the up-and-coming spirits distillery. In addition to their regular day jobs as a programmer (Joshua) and an attorney (Kathy), they distill all of Still Mill’s spirits, liquors, and bitters, conceptualize and prepare craft cocktails highlighting their ingredients, and represent Still Mill at local markets and events. (They’re also married!)

“We do everything, from CEO to janitor,” Joshua explains.

When the two decided to make the leap and open their own distillery, it was important to them that they find a way to stay connected to their community through their business, which is why they ultimately chose a space in Swissvale on Noble Street near to where they live.

“We wanted to keep it local to the East End,” Joshua says. “It took three or four years to get the building renovated and ready to be open to the public, and there were some setbacks because of the pandemic, but we gave the space a lot of love.”

Three primary spirits are on the menu at Still Mill: distilled gin, vodka, and wood water, which is a spirit “distilled from cane and grain, flavored with charred oak staves” for a whiskey-like effect. Their gin is vapor-infused with traditional (and non-traditional) botanicals and flavors, which results in a spirit that is more aromatic and less oily. Their tasting room also features more than a dozen handcrafted cocktails using Still Mill’s ingredients.

Still Mill Distillery first opened to the public in July 2021, and their Noble Street tasting room has reopened for the summer as of late May – you can stop by on Saturdays from 11am to 7pm! (You can also expect to see Still Mill Distillery pop up at even more farmers markets and maker events in the city throughout the summer and fall.)

“In addition to our regular hours, we’ve been using the tasting room for a lot of local things,” says Joshua. “It’s become a social outlet for us too, and we’ve gotten to meet a lot of lovely people from farmers markets and garden clubs as well as our regulars.”

Still Mill is a true glass-to-grain distillery, meaning that they make their own alcohol as well as their bitters and flavored liquors. They also source most of their flavoring ingredients locally, often from local growers they meet at the markets where they themselves are vendors.

In fact, the mint they use in their housemade creme de menthe is grown right in Swissvale!

“Making your own alcohol takes forever,” says Joshua. “It’s largely hands-off while the ferment is happening, but there’s a ton of behind-the-scenes work.”

As cocktail lovers themselves, Joshua and Kathy had the benefit of being familiar with the Pittsburgh drinking scene, which was helpful in getting their business started.

“Because we’re a limited distillery, for any cocktails that we create, the ingredients have to be made in Pennsylvania, and often we make it ourselves,” explains Kathy. “So while you might have heard of St-Germain elderflower liquor, we make our own elderflower liquor here at the distillery – along with many other flavors! – that we use to offer a more robust cocktail program.”

Their cocktail menu changes frequently based on the available liquors and seasonal flavorings, as well as what customers are enjoying – they even have a few cocktails that are named after regulars at their tasting room!

Speaking of the tasting room, Joshua and Kathy worked for years on renovating their space using rough-hewn hemlock, but what’s especially unique about the space is that it doesn’t have any electronics: no TVs, radio, or music. Why? So that you can really focus on your hand-crafted drinks and even chat with some other visitors and new friends.

If you’re looking for a cozy, congenial space to enjoy some well-designed cocktails with locally-made spirits and flavors, visit Still Mill on Saturdays this summer or keep an eye out for them at your local farmers’ market!

This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
Kaidia Pickels

Kaidia is a native Pittsburgher and a content writer for a local marketing agency. She loves to travel, try new dishes at local restaurants, and drop in to fitness class throughout the city. She's a die-hard Pens fan as well as an amateur baker and mixologist — sometimes combining both in one recipe!

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