Maryland Lawmakers Push for Rye Whiskey as the State’s Official Spirit

by Madison Miller

The people of Maryland are passionate about their rye whiskey. Is there enough passion to push for a new decision on the lawmakers’ side?

Maryland lawmakers, especially Senator Steve Hershey, want to make rye whiskey the official state spirit. It would join the ranks of the Baltimore oriole, which is the state bird.

There are dozens of distilleries in the state that specifically focus on creating rye whiskey. By making rye whiskey the state spirit it could help further entice people to visit the state and try the alcohol.

“We have a rye whiskey trail in Maryland. So, we thought that designated rye whiskey as the state spirit would only add to that and add to the economic development and enhancement and tourism that we’ve seen already,” Hershey said to WMAR2 News.

For example, Kentucky has drawn people in for years because of just how much bourbon the state produces. Where there is alcohol being made, the people will come. In total, 95% of the world’s bourbon is coming from Kentucky. The water flows through the state’s limestone reserves before turning into that delicious golden nectar.

History of Maryland Whiskey

Now, back to Maryland. The state was once a whiskey distilling powerhouse back in the day. According to The New York Times, Maryland used to produce 5.6 million gallons in 1911. This was the pre-Prohibition high for the state, which was beaten only by Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

The state was particularly known for rye, which was beginning to get recognized for its distinctive taste across the country. Rye is becoming more and more popular again, which means Maryland could finally properly show up in the whiskey business again. In fact, people in Maryland want to make a specific “Maryland style” once again.

“I want to get it back to what it once was. It was a regional style then, and it can be a regional style again,” Brian Treacy, the president of Sagamore Spirit Distillery in Baltimore said to the news outlet. The problem with making Maryland-style rye is that no true documentation exists regarding exactly what this spirit tasted like back in the day. Regardless, a lot of this new push for Maryland to make rye is a promotional tool.

An Example of Delicious Rye Whiskey in Maryland

As for Sagamore Spirit, they just released an all-new drink that could help the state get even more recognition.

The new rye whiskey from the company is the Sagamore Spirit Reserve Series Rum Cask Finish Rye Whiskey. The award-winning distillery offered something similar in 2019, which came with a lot of positive feedback from buyers. The team at Sagamore decided to take its five to six-year barrel-aged rye whiskey and put it in barrels from South America and Jamaica. They are then aged for 10 more months.

This rye whiskey then takes on flavors of banana, pineapple, and rich vanilla.

“This product is another great example of our distilling team’s commitment to excellence. Rum and rye whiskey were both favorites in Maryland’s early days, dating back centuries. Our team brought them together again in a whole new way that brings out the best of sugarcane and rye grain, all in one bottle,” Treacy said, according to Bevnet.