We’ve been keeping tabs on Sagamore Spirit, the Baltimore-based rye whiskey producer, since they first hit the shelves in 2016 with an impressive portfolio of contract-distilled offerings. In recent years we were impressed by their ambitious, and sometimes unusual, finishing program that offered up surprisingly enjoyable oddities like a Calvados Finish and even a Tequila Finish. But those limited editions were just a prelude to the biggest special release yet, their first in-house whiskey distilled and aged at their impressive distillery near the Baltimore waterfront.
In November, that moment arrived with the release of this bottle, Sagamore Spirit Bottled in Bond Rye Whiskey. For a brand with a mission to revive Maryland’s historic reputation as a leading rye whiskey producer, it’s a big step. As with their contract-distilled whiskeys, this latest is a blend of two different rye mashbills, one a high-rye the other a lower-rye, intended to emulate the Maryland-style rye that was so popular a century ago. As a bottled in bond product, it has been aged at least four years. Let’s see how this milestone whiskey acquits itself, shall we?
The aroma is bold and spicy with freshly grated cinnamon, peppercorn, and dried herbs. The herbal component is subtle with just a bit of dill creeping in, but it adds a nice counterpoint to notes of orange peel and tinned pear that give this one a sweeter edge as it opens in the glass. That initial spice in the aroma is magnified on the palate with a rush of Red Hots, candied ginger, and ample baking spice. There’s still plenty of balance here despite the initial zing. It’s light and a touch oily with layers of brown sugar and citrus drifting in and out of all that spice until things gently conclude on a warming palate accented by a little candied cherry and barrel char. Years in the making, and well worth the wait.