It’s not common knowledge that rye whiskey production originated in Pennsylvania and Maryland, where it reached its zenith in the late 19th century. Historically, each state produced a different style: Pennsylvania rye was spicy and bold, while Maryland rye traditionally presented more well balanced flavors.
After Prohibition, rye whiskey almost disappeared altogether. The production of a few surviving brands moved to Kentucky, where an early 2000s revival largely favored the Pennsylvania style. But in 2013, trading on Maryland’s distinct rye pedigree, Sagamore Spirit launched a renaissance of its own.
The name Sagamore—and the brand’s three-diamond emblem—pay homage to Sagamore Farm, an active thoroughbred-racing and -training facility in northern Baltimore County once owned by the Vanderbilt family. The team uses spring-fed water from the farm’s Spring House to proof every bottle of Sagamore at their waterfront distillery in Baltimore’s Port Covington neighborhood.
Corn plays a supporting role to rye in the Maryland-style mash bill. According to company president Brian Treacy, Sagamore relies on two mash bills: One is “high rye,” while the other is “low rye,” a rye-dominant blend that includes corn. The whiskeys are aged separately, blended, and brought to proof with the aforementioned spring water.
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