Friday, April 28, 2017

Sagamore Spirit Rye Whiskey

Maryland rye whiskey is recognized for having a unique style, one which contains a lower rye content and a healthy amount of corn to provide sweeter and almost bourbon like characteristics. Before prohibition, Maryland was one of the countries leading rye producers, with more than 40 operating distilleries. The majority of these converted to ethanol production or closed during World War II and only a few resumed making whiskeys when the War was over.

In an effort to restore Maryland’s distilling heritage, Under Armor CEO Kevin Plank created the Sagamore Spirit Company. Plank has stated that Sagamore Distillery aspires to “put Maryland back on the map” as a premier distiller of rye whiskey. Located in Baltimore, construction of the facility recently completed.  While distillation of rye whiskey started at the Baltimore facility on April 10th, the company is currently selling rye whiskey sourced from Indiana. It's a blend of two different rye mash bills- a high & low rye, proofed using spring fed water from Sagamore Farm. The 83 proof pays homage to the water’s journey from the farm to the distillery – a trip down I-83.
-Distilled in Indiana 
-83 proof
-3 years of age
-Price: $45

Nose: Subtle hints of cinnamon and muted vanilla. Herbal tones and an intense burst of dill overpower the aroma.

Taste: Smooth but rather unexciting on the palate. Lackluster baking spices are subdued by a blanket of savory herbal notes, mostly dill and green tea.
Finish: Light, herbal, and crisp.

Conclusion: I didn't find this expression of Sagamore Spirit rye great by any stretch. Fortunately, this post was never intended to highlight the sourced whiskey currently being sold- just to be clear, I wouldn't buy it again! I wrote more to focus on the distillery, which is now open to the public and offering daily tours of the facility. I spoke with their Director of Brand Development, who informed me Sagamore Spirit will continue Maryland's tradition of distilling rye with a healthy amount of corn in the recipe. An unaged, white dog rye from the Sagamore Distillery is available at the gift shop. While they plan to age the spirit based on taste, not number of years, I think its safe to say we can look forward to an aged, Maryland style rye from Sagamore Spirit in next 4 years!

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A117

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof batch A117 is the first barrel proof release since Heaven Hill modernized the brand with a new elegant bottle design. While Heaven Hill's flagship bourbon, 94 proof Elijah Craig small batch, lost its age statement altogether, I was delighted to see ECBP will continue to be aged for 12 years. My first experience with ECBP was a majestic one. It’s older than most whiskey you can find today, it’s loaded with bold flavors, and most importantly, it won’t burn a hole in your wallet (while still a decent value today, these used to sell retail for $40)!

-Batch A117
-127 proof
-Aged 12 years
-Price: $55

Nose: Aromatic with semi-sweet chocolate, cherries, and a sharp toasted oak.

Taste: Full bodied with whipped cream, fudge, cherries, and cola. There’s a thick layer of dark fruits followed by pepper spice and toasted oak.

Finish: Long with dried fruits, toasted oak, and a mouthwatering heat.

Conclusion: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof continues to be top tier bourbon in my book. Batch A117 is complex with a wide range of bold flavors.  It's a few bucks more than it used to be, but still a great buy in today's market. 

My Rating:  A (Great)