What we’re drinking: Sagamore Spirit Bottled in Bond Straight Rye Whiskey
Where it’s from: Sagamore Spirit was founded in 2013. Based in Baltimore on a beautiful five-acre waterfront property, the distillery has been waiting for its own Maryland rye whiskey to age properly. Until that moment (see below), the brand has been racking up awards with sourced product. Their current releases usually end up as a blend of high- and low-rye mashbills proofed down with Maryland limestone spring water and, sometimes, finished for several months in different barrels. Their Port Finish Rye won as the World’s Best Rye Whiskey in 2019 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Why we’re drinking this: Because Sagamore Spirit finally has its own whiskey.
“We built this distillery to eventually go in-house,” says Sagamore president Brian Treacy. “But we wanted our whiskey to turn four-and-a-half years before we released something that was 100% Maryland-made, aged and distilled.”
Hence, a Bottled-in-Bond release. As defined by the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, spirits with this designation must be a product of one distillation season, at one distillery, aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least four years, bottled at 100-proof and produced in the United States. Besides offering a higher proof, this is basically a way for Sagamore Spirit to show that they made this.
And Maryland rye has its own character. “What we were trying to accomplish with this release is revive Maryland’s reputation and history with delivering a rye that’s more approachable and not so angular,” Treacy says. “ I think this is a bit easier to drink than most 100-proof whiskey.”
How it tastes: A surprisingly dark color for under five years, the BIB has dark fruit and chocolate on the nose. On the palate, you’ll also get that fruit, plus cinnamon, a bit of caramel and, of course, the spicy rye. It features a nice, long finish that’s also a bit dry; if someone said this had a wine cask finish (it doesn’t), I wouldn’t be surprised.
Overall, an exceptional and approachable rye.
Fun fact: Sagamore Spirit also recently released an 8-Year Rye, a sourced product just under 115 proof that certainly has a bit more kick (and a bit more of a dill note). “We wanted to showcase the upper tier of that sweet spot for rye, which we think is 5 to 8 years,” says Treacy. In the next year, watch for sourced rye released finished in rum casks, as well as a return and a distribution expansion of the distillery’s excellent line of canned cocktails, which all use a four-year rye as a base.
Where to buy it: Sagamore Spirit’s BIB release is available in limited quantities for $59.
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