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The Best Rye Whiskey of the Time
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
2023-03-28

            With the growing popularity of microbreweries and the number of craft distilleries sprouting up, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at a local distillery of the past.

            It was prior to the 1880s when Nathaniel B. Moll began a liquor business near Green Lane.  It was a good spot with the railroad close by giving access to the whiskey market outside the area.

In the late 1860's Nathaniel and Mary Moll built a five-story

house on Main St. in Green Lane to operate their liquor

business.

            He married his first wife, Sarah, and they had three daughters: Sarah, Alice, and Mary Agnes.  After his wife passed away in 1866 Nathaniel married his second wife, Mary, and over time brought her into the liquor business.  It wasn't long before the business prospered enough to allow them to build a five-story house in Green Lane.

            Nathaniel passed away on Sept. 20, 1891, and his wife, Mary, took over the business and soon after began taking to the road to hawk her product.  According to accounts, she was credited with almost tripling the business.  Her road trips lasted about three years when she halted them.  She believed that by paying no commissions to salespersons and cutting sales expenses she could pass on the sales to her customers.  Her acumen allowed her to sell her liquors 50 cents a gallon cheaper than when she utilized herself and other traveling salespersons.

            According to an item in a 1901 edition of the Town and Country, she was "the only lady liquor dealer in the state."   As a woman, she had many obstacles to overcome, but, having a wonderful business tact, she bravely fought the many unpleasant features connected with business and successfully built up a trade far superior to any in this county. She dealt directly with the leading liquor brokers in the United States, who are held in account for every action by the government..

By 1902, Mary was selling three

hundred barrels of whiskey a year

in the early 1900's   She didn't mix

or blend her own brands, rather she

bottled the product of other makers

into her embossed, glass containers.

            She also did not skimp on things she thought were essential to her marketing efforts.  Her liquors were bottled in a clear flask that had Mrs. N. B. Moll embossed on it.  She also handed out trade cards to customers with her advertising on the back.

            Mary believed in selling a high-quality product.  By 1902, Mary was selling 300 barrels of whiskey a year.  She didn't mix or blend her own brands, rather she bottled the product of other makers into her embossed, glass containers.  Her proximity to the Green Lane train station was a big help.  The barrels of whiskey were shipped to her in large lots saving her money and allowing her to undersell competitors.   She could also market her whiskey by rail in crate lots to customers in other parts of Pennsylvania and on the East Coast.

            She supplied the leading doctors throughout this and adjoining counties with liquors for medicinal purposes and carried a stock of pure rye whiskies, mostly from Pennsylvania, ranging in age from five to 20 years.

            The article reported on her keen knowledge of the business.

            One week, after she received five barrels of a 20-year-old whiskey as a sample order, she tested it.  After testing the liquor she found it to be an even higher quality

Mary didn't skimp on things she thought

were essential to her marketing efforts.

That included handing out trade cards

to customers with her advertising on

the back. Her marketing acumen all-

owed her to sell her liquors 50 cents

a gallon cheaper than using traveling

sales persons.

than what she had expected and immediately wired for 25 barrels more.

            That whiskey was made from pure rye in Pennsylvania in 1881. In 1894 it was shipped to Bremen, Germany, where it remained until 1900. The high-grade whiskies were generally sent across the seas as it was claimed that the salt air and peculiar motion of the vessel increased the quality of the liquor. Liquor in the process of aging evaporates very rapidly and the greater the evaporation the more valuable the liquor.

            Of the five barrels received by Mary, each contained 44 1/2 gallons when first filled. When Mary received them, the barrels contained from 14 to 20 gallons apiece. Twenty-year-old whiskey was seldom found in liquor stores back then.  But it was known at the time that Mary always had in stock the choicest and rarest liquors, according to age, that could be found in the market

            Mary died in 1910 when she was 64.  She was still running her liquor business at the time of her passing.

            With nobody to take over, that was the end of Mrs. N. B. Moll's Rye Whiskies.


 

 

 

 

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