Location: Port Covington, Baltimore.
Founder: Brian Treacy
A Sagamore story
Founded in 2013 Sagamore Spirits is an innovative distiller based in Maryland who is keen to make Maryland as synonymous with Rye as Kentucky is with Bourbon. This is a huge ambition considering that the state of Maryland has a rich history of producing whiskeys, specifically rye whiskeys. By 1912, Maryland had more than 40 distilleries. Setting itself apart from other distillers, Sagamore has no master distiller but has a team centric based approach, this collaborative approach allows Sagamore to be experimental and innovative.
The brand was conceived in 2012 and officially launched, by Brian Treacy, in 2016 at a five acre waterfront distillery at Port Covington.
The Sagamore Spirit name comes from a thoroughbred horse racing farm, Sagamore Farm, that is situated twenty two miles from the Port Covington distillery. At the base of the farm is an old springhouse that was built in 1909, and there’s no floor to the springhouse. Instead, there’s just a pool with bubbling water. That limestone aquifer helps filter out the iron and retains all the calcium, which is perfect for making whiskey. That water is an integral part in Sagamore’s ingredient list for their rye whiskey
The Sagamore distillery building is a 22,000-square-foot building. It’s a state of the art facility that has nine 6,500-gallon fermenters, a beer well, and also a mash cooker. The centre piece is a 40-foot mirrored finish copper column still from Vendome, which Sagamore Spirit believes is the only one like it in the world. There are also three tail boxes which allow for something very unique about Sagamore Spirit in that they triple-distill their whiskey to help purify it and give it a smooth Maryland flavour.
Sagamore Spirit have made no secret about sourcing some of their original whiskey from MGP in Indiana but the ambition has always been to make it’s own, once it had enough barrels aged. Aging happens about 10 miles from the distillery in an area called North Point where their rickhouse is situated and can hold up to 20,000 barrels.
The rickhouses are not temperature controlled, instead Sagamore Spirit take a natural approach. In Maryland, very similar to Kentucky, they experience high temperatures in the summer and extreme cold in winter. Those extremes are perfect for making whiskey, and especially rye whiskey, and the idea is for the rye to seep into the barrel and get all those charcoal flavors and the sugars from the aging process.
Maryland is not often thought of as at the forefront of American whiskey, neither is it widely regarded as a centrepoint of innovation and creativity. Sagamore wants to prove that innovation, like their rye whiskey, is indigenous to Maryland.