David E. Stein’s love for the history and taste of American Bourbon has led to big things. After admiring the craft for most of his life, he’s built Hidden Still Spirits in Hershey into the largest Bourbon producer in Pennsylvania.
Stein trained in Kentucky (where most of the nation’s bourbon is produced) and opened his first distillery in Lebanon, PA. He’d always wanted to operate in Hershey and went on to win a preservation award for turning what was once The Hershey Company’s recycling facility into a beautiful distillery and restaurant. Stein says it was important to maintain many of the characteristics of the building that was built by Milton Hershey in the 1940s.
Stein is Hidden Still’s President and Founder, and he proudly backs his product with his own name. “David E. Bourbon” is Hidden Still’s flagship line of top shelf PA Craft Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The grain to glass distillery uses Pennsylvania-sourced grains and brings in natural limestone spring water from Pennsylvania water sources.
The distillery boasts the largest continuous column still in Pennsylvania, a vital part of Hidden Still’s ability to produce its line of spirits for the restaurant, retail business, and Ready-To-Drink cans, or “RTDs.”
David’s go-to drink? Unsurprisingly, David’s favorite is the best-selling David E. PA Straight Bourbon – Black.
Eye: burnt amber
Nose: vanilla, fresh brewed coffee, ground cinnamon
Palate: caramel, cinnamon, dry oak, slight mint aftertaste
Finish: hints of smoke and tobacco
If he’s sipping a mixed drink, he’ll order a Manhattan.
Stein’s commitment to quality is as deep as his commitment to family. Stein’s son-in-law is the Master Distiller. Stein’s daughter runs the office and social media, his wife is the company’s Vice President, and his brother is the VP of Sales. Together, they have built a gem in the Hershey community.
Master Distiller Coty Edwards oversees the distillery’s production operation. It’s a hands-on job with 12-hour days of mashing, fermenting, distilling, barreling, blending, and bottling.
The distillery produces several lines of distilled beverages, but Bourbon is Coty’s “first love.” He says Bourbon is special because of the way it expresses itself versus other whiskies and calls it “the most complex beverage in the world.” You’ll get dessert qualities, fruit qualities, and herbaceous notes (that’s “herblike” for the uninitiated), all in one sip.
The restaurant part of the business is designed around a scratch kitchen that leans heavily on local farms and dairies to help frame the menu. You’ll find some seasonal dishes change in and out especially in the spring and summer when local produce is at its peak, and in winter and fall Executive Chef Nick Hostetter is filling the menu with traditional “stick-to-your-ribs” dishes.
Hostetter says the kitchen takes pride in using local resources as much as possible while “putting our own twist” on Modern American Cuisine. And – of course – you’ll find several dishes where the distillery’s spirits are incorporated into the recipe.