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avatar for Andrew Auwerda

Andrew Auwerda

Philadelphia Distilling
President & Co-Founder
From retail to cosmetics, to gin, Andrew Auwerda’s multifaceted career has been focused on one mission – to establish businesses that offer a contemporary alternative in their category. In the decade since Andrew Auwerda co-founded Philadelphia Distilling, the entrepreneur has been at the forefront of the American craft gin revolution in the United States, helping to restore Pennsylvania to its once-prominent place in the national distilling conversation. Auwerda believes in tradition spun in a modern way, an ethos that has driven him in every venture, including his first foray into the spirits industry.
 
In 2005, when the New Jersey native reconnected to his Mid-Atlantic roots and established Philadelphia Distilling in the city where independence was born, it was one of only about 50 operating distilleries in the United States. Under his direction, Philadelphia Distilling became the first craft distillery in Pennsylvania since Prohibition and paved the way for small-batch distilling to boom in the Greater Philadelphia region. Beginning with Bluecoat American Dry Gin in 2006, the distillery was one of the first to market its flagship spirit as an “American Dry Gin” – revolutionizing the flavor profile of American gins to come, by abandoning the strong piney taste of London Dry Gin and instead focusing on a citrus-forward and soft juniper berry taste. At its inception, Bluecoat American Dry Gin was also the only Pennsylvania gin available and Auwerda’s cosmetic design background informed the creation of the signature blue bottle and defining package characteristics, which connect the rich history of 1776 to the present day.

Over the next five years, Auwerda fostered the growth of Philadelphia Distilling’s unique portfolio of American-grown spirits, by adding historically inspired offerings in other categories – vodka and absinthe. In 2014, Auwerda recognized a new trend in gin and worked with his distillery team to introduce Bluecoat Barrel Finished Gin, a gin for whiskey drinkers, creating a crossover moment for gin into the brown spirit category. Simultaneously, Auwerda launched Bluecoat internationally in Italy, France and Spain and began planning a $4.5 million renovation project to relocate the distillery closer to the heart of Philly.

In 2017, Auwerda and his partner, Timothy Yarnall, moved Philadelphia Distilling’s location into a transformed industrial era metal factory in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, setting up shop in what was once the Ajax Metal Company. Abandoned for decades after serving as a smelter and foundry from the late 1800s to the mid-1940s, it took four years to prepare the 13,000-square-foot warehouse for its new creative life as home to Philadelphia Distilling . The distillery is also home to a tasting room, bar and retail store. Here, Auwerda educates, informs and entertains friends and fans about the hand-crafted spirits created in full display behind the glass wall in the tasting room.
“We want to be historic but relevant, and Philadelphia Distilling helped renew the city’s former industrial corridors, creating a sense of place for the community,” says Auwerda. “Our distillery is structured like an open workshop to let our customers see the traceable evolution of our spirits, so they appreciate that the process is not merely about the finished product, but rather the beauty hidden within the workmanship of our distillers.”

My Speakers Sessions

Wednesday, March 27
 

12:00pm