Pennsylvania gets first vodka distillery

It seems only fitting that a building that once housed a glassmaking operation now houses something to put into glasses -- vodka.

Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries LLC, located inside the former Glenshaw Glass building in Shaler, PA, northeast of Pittsburgh, founded the business in 2004 but just now are nearing their first shipments to stores.

Partners Prentiss Orr, 53, and Barry Young, 39, novices in the industry, have named their product Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka. It will be sold in 150 state stores (for non-Pennsylvanians, those are the state-owned stores permitted to sell spirits) and an estimated 75 bars and restaurants, at least in the first phase.

The partners last year received a $200,000 "Small Business First" agricultural grant from the state government to buy equipment for distilling, bottling and packaging its vodka. In 2005, Orr obtained a $165,000 state grant to explore the business possibilities.

Orr, a marketing consultant and principal of the advertising firm Outlook Advertising, is a former vice president of the Greater Pittsburgh Area Chamber of Commerce. Young is the former CEO of three pharmaceutical-related nonprofit divisions at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Michele Meloy Burchfield, a beverage industry sales consultant, is an investor.

Boyd & Blair, which is made from Pennsylvania-grown potatoes, will retail for $27.95 for a 750ml bottle.

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