Review: Baltimore Spirits Epoch Straight Rye
Baltimore Spirits Company was initially the Baltimore Whiskey Company, so that should tell you something about their original passions for craft distilling. But making only whiskey proved too restraining for this creative crew. Today their diverse portfolio includes such tasty oddities as Fumus Pumila, a smoked apple brandy, and Szechuan amaro. Still, their early passion for whiskey is clearly evident in the distillery flagship, Epoch Rye Whiskey.
Many distilleries in Maryland are making rye, some to revive the historic style and others just to honor a long tradition that pre-dates bourbon yet disappeared almost entirely after Prohibition. Epoch Rye is a bit of both. It’s open top fermented and pot distilled, the way vintage Maryland rye would have been centuries ago, but it’s also made without any of the corn that was (probably) used in traditional Maryland rye, although the exact specifications of the style remain a mystery even today. The mashbill is 70% rye and 30% malted rye, distilled on a custom pot still modeled off of those at Lagavulin. The specific spirit cuts are even more like a single malt, making Epoch both a mashup of Maryland tradition and a nod to the earliest roots of whiskey-making. Let’s check it out!
The nose on this one is rich and perfumed, showing lots of influence from the malted rye with notes of cinnamon-dusted cherry cookies, baking cocoa, and buttery bread dough. There’s lots of gentle, woody spice in here, too, and a lacing of vanilla cream throughout. The palate is beefy, mouthcoating, and creamy. It’s exceptionally balanced for a young whiskey with no sharpness from the grain or overly burly notes from the barrel (they age in new, charred 53-gallon barrels). The abundant malt notes and creaminess of the palate lend this one a melted chocolate chip quality. Ample spice cabinet and barrel tannins give it a warming spice, and the mid-palate reveals notes of roasted pecan and cherry cordial. The long finish sees a reprise of the chocolate, more hot cocoa this time. Nicely done.
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