Sagamore Spirit Distillery

Address

301 E Cromwell St.
Baltimore, MD 21230, USA
Website
Sagamore Spirit Distillery
  • Sagamore Spirit Distillery
Featured Spirits
Rye, Whisky, Other Spirits

Wish List (Log in)


 

Welcome to Whiskey Lore's Whiskey Flights, your weekly home for discovering great craft distillery experiences around the globe. Brought to you this week by my friends at Burnt Church Distillery of Bluffton South Carolina, a distillery loaded with authentic Low Country South Carolina Spirits.

I’m Drew Hannush, best-selling author of Experiencing Kentucky Bourbon and Experiencing Irish Whiskey and today I’ll be your travel guide as we drive to the Day Pass for under $5, take the Light Rail from BWI airport to 25 minute ride over to Hamburg Street which puts you right by Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the Raven’s football stadium. From there, its a 6 minute ride share over to the Baltimore Peninsula, home of Sagamore Spirit Distillery.

We’ll be meeting with Ryan Norwood, Director of Operations at Sagamore. From the first day I saw a bottle of their whisky on the shelf, I’ve been fascinated with the idea, they are building their entire business on the back of rye whisky. So many distilleries go for the easier sell of Bourbon, but some will say, the true way to mastery is to focus on one thing and make it the best you can.

Well, like many distilleries, they started with a sourcing relationship with MGP Ingredients out of Indiana, but slowly, their spirit is evolving into their own distillate, so this is a great time to dive in deep and find out the story behind Sagamore. But as I wait for my ride share, let’s take a moment to get a feel for the Baltimore Peninsula, the home of Sagamore Spirit.

Baltimore and the Peninsula

Located just South of South Baltimore, the historic and revitalized Baltimore Peninsula is loaded with rich history and culture with a diversity of attractions available to draw you in. Lovers of American history will experience the story of one the most impactful nights in U.S. history, just by visiting nearby Fort McHenry National Monument. This star-shaped fort is famous for its role in the War of 1812, particularly the Battle of Baltimore, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner." Take a tour of the fort, watch the educational film, and enjoy the beautiful views of the Patapsco River while envisioning Key, an American, standing on the deck of an enemy British warship out in the harbor wondering if his country would still exist in the morning.

For museum fans, you explore your specific interests with a couple of options, including the American Visionary Art Museum, which showcases the work of self-taught artists from around the world and the Baltimore Museum of Industry: Located in an old cannery, where you can work through interactive exhibits that cover everything from printing and garment-making to metalworking and shipbuilding.

If nature is your thing, then you’re sure of the various ways to view Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. You can take a scenic walk along the promenade, visit the National Aquarium, or enjoy a harbor cruise to see the city from the water. And a stop over at Federal Hill Park offers some of the best views of the harbor and the city skyline. Plus it’s also a spectacular spot to catch a beautiful sunset over the city.

And what would a trip to Baltimore be without exploring some of the fine seafood restaurants. At the north end of the Peninsula check out the Rusty Scupper where you can catch the stunning views of Baltimore's waterfront while enjoying fresh seafood and classic American cuisine. Or for fans of Maryland crabs, find steamed blue crabs, crab cakes, and other seafood favorites at LP Steamers, down closer to the distillery.

If you’re visiting in the summer, don’t miss the Baltimore Art, Antique & Jewelry Show at the Baltimore Convention Center - one of the largest indoor events of its kind. And for sports fans, soak in the classic vibes of one of America’s greatest ballparks: Oriole Park at Camden Yards. You’ll find plenty to do, when you plan your day around a visit to Sagamore Spirit Distillery.

And now that you’ve got a feel for the area, its time to step inside this beautiful waterfront distillery and learn about the whiskies and experience at Sagamore Spirit. Our host Ryan is here to tell us more, and showing how my mind works, my first question surrounds the name of the distillery and why they chose the singular version of Spirit, rather than making it plural. 

The Interview

Ryan Norwood (00:46.039)
Yeah, so we were started by Kevin Plank and his business partner, Bill McDermott. Kevin Plank is the founder and CEO of Under Armour. And he, after starting Under Armour, he purchased a farm about 30 minutes north of Baltimore city called Sagamore Farm. Sagamore Farm was once owned by the Vanderbilt's and Kevin actually made it into, back into a thoroughbred horse racing farm.

and was really into horses and wanting to drive that back into Maryland as well. And so fast forward a few years after that, and he started to look at what else he could do to reinvest in the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland. That's what his biggest thing is, is how do I get back to Baltimore? How do I do more things here in the city? And he started to do a little bit of research and found out that Maryland actually had a very rich history in distilling rye whiskey. A lot of immigrants came over from Europe, from

Ireland from Scotland and brought a lot of their rich distilling traditions with them and actually found that rye grew really well in the state of Maryland. And at one point there were 44 distilleries in Maryland, 21 in downtown Baltimore. And so as Kevin kind of drove more into this, he was like, wow, this is amazing. And found out that, you know, unfortunately a lot of those distilleries during prohibition into World War II actually converted over to making fuel ethanol to help support the war.

Drew Hannush (01:51.638)
Mm.

Ryan Norwood (02:12.663)
And there was only one of them that actually existed beyond that, and that was Pikesville Rye until about 1972. And then they stopped working, but then Heaven Hill bought that in 1982 and moved production down to Kentucky. And then at that point, there was nobody making rye whiskey in the state of Maryland anymore. And so Kevin, doing a little more research, was like, I want to start this up again. I want to figure this out.

Drew Hannush (02:18.102)
Mm -hmm.

Ryan Norwood (02:38.711)
Luckily for him, the farm, Sagmore Farm sits on a limestone shelf and has a spring that runs through it. And so as he dug a little bit more into that, he goes, wow, limestone. When I look up limestone, everything I keep seeing talks about whiskey and how good limestone water is on whiskey. And that's when the concept started. And so initially, one of the things he always wanted to focus on was rye whiskey and putting Maryland back on the map for making rye whiskey.

Drew Hannush (02:50.774)
Yeah, yeah.

Ryan Norwood (03:05.911)
And so using the name from the farm, Sagamore Farm, he started Sagamore Spirit Distillery. At first it was kind of like, well, are we going to make more products? You know, that's always the thought when you first started distillery is whiskey takes a long time. We age everything at least four years from four to seven years for most of it. And he knew that he didn't want to make vodka. He didn't want to make gins. He wanted to focus only on rye. And so instead of saying Sagamore spirits and having other spirits in our portfolio,

We are Sagmore Spirit and we make a focus on a Maryland style rye whiskey.

Drew Hannush (03:41.974)
It's, it's been an interesting history with American whiskey over the last 20 to 25 years because bourbon really has held the story for American whiskey for so long. And now we're starting to see, you know, rye has definitely caught on and there are rye whiskey fans out there. But when you guys were getting started in this, this concept of regional rise and finding this.

these different areas and the quality of the grain and the terroirs we now start talking about in terms of whiskey. Did he kind of have a thought of trying to figure out what Maryland's style of rye was going to be?

Ryan Norwood (04:29.239)
That was our first kind of homework assignment when getting into this was, what was a Maryland rye? How do we talk about it? What flavor profile did it have? What was the recipe? And so we started doing a lot of historical research and talking to people whose families distilled rye in Maryland. And what we found was there was no one recipe. There was no one, this is what makes Maryland rye, but it was more of a flavor profile.

you know, compared to the Managua Gila Ries from Pennsylvania, Maryland rye was always kind of considered a little bit more balanced and let kind of spice forward a little bit of a sweeter profile. And that was due to the corn that they put into it. Obviously back, back early in the early 1900s, late 1800s, they were putting all sorts of things in whiskey. They were putting rock candy, they were mixing juices, all that stuff that also, you know, added to the flavor profile.

But what we found was that balance. And that's what we really aimed to recreate was that very smooth, balanced, approachable rye. And we find that through making two mash bills. We do what we call the high rye mash bill that's gonna be your 95 % rye, 5 % malted barley. And that's kind of your bread and butter rye. A lot of ryes out there, bullet rye, Templeton, a lot of those create the same mash bill. And so what we do differently is we also make a low rye.

They get 52 % rye, 5 % malted barley, and 43 % corn. So we cook those, ferment them, distill them, and age them completely separately. And then we blend them together on the back end to recreate what we feel is that slightly sweet, more balanced, smooth, Maryland -style rye whiskey.

Drew Hannush (05:59.478)
Mm -hmm.

Drew Hannush (06:14.774)
Now, when you're getting started, of course, you don't have a supply of whiskey. You've got to wait for the whiskey to age and get there. So you initially started out by sourcing the whiskey, like a lot of distilleries do out of Indiana, the MGP relationship with you. And you still have MGP product in some of your whiskies. Talk about the transition and that relationship with MGP.

Ryan Norwood (06:43.287)
We do, Drew. And that's one thing that we knew. Like I said, we wanted to make rye whiskey from the start. We age everything for at least four to seven years. And so we knew it would take time and we didn't have a distillery built. So while we were looking for where we wanted to build the distillery, what kind of still we were looking at, all of that stuff, we reached out to MGP and started that process and said, we would like you to make new make for us. These are the two mash bills we're looking at.

And they were happy to do it. And we have been very transparent from the beginning with that process. It was something we didn't want to hide. It was, it was something we were proud of. You know, they make fantastic whiskey. We knew that like, if by contracting through them, that we were going to get a great product on the back end. And through that process, we built our distillery. And so as soon as we finished building our distillery in, in about April of 2017, we stopped buying and contracting for MGP and we've been making it all our own.

since then. But again, it takes time to build up that inventory and to get age on our whiskey. So instead of there's there's kind of two schools of thought when you when you contract distill and move from contract distillation to your own is you can either do it as a light switch and stop bottling theirs and start bottling your own or you can slowly transition and we chose to to slowly transition to blend our whiskey in with MGPs over the years to make sure that

We were staying consistent from a flavor profile and taking our consumers along with us. It was a journey. It was, this is where we're at. Here's what we're doing. And hopefully as we continue to add more of ours, that people get excited about it. They start to see that flavor profile change, slight changes in aroma and the taste and the mouth feel in the body. And with our straight rye whiskey, our small batch straight rye whiskey is now 100 % distilled in Maryland by Sagmore Spirit, which is super exciting for us. It's something we've been talking about for.

for over seven years now and to finally be here is fantastic.

Drew Hannush (08:40.918)
When you're starting to source your grain from local farmers rather than going through somebody like MGP, there's going to be flavor changes. It's going to evolve in one way or another. In talking about the history and you going back and trying to capture what Maryland rye was, but also working with farmers now, how do you strike that balance to try to also put out a product? Because as you said, in the early days,

They were also doing a lot of things to rye whiskey that may or may not have been something that we'd really want to taste today. We glorify the old days of whiskey, but not all that stuff was top shelf quality whiskey. So how do you find a balance when you're trying to create this?

Ryan Norwood (09:27.063)
That is always the trickiest thing is quality has to be number one and the quality of the grain is one of the most important things when making rye whiskey. And so when we first started distilling our own products, we reached out, we started using the same broker, the same yeast drain that MGP was using to make sure that we were, because we knew they were using high quality grains, we wanted to make sure we were following that path. And then about a year into our existence, we said,

you know, logistically we're driving this grain from the Midwest, sometimes from New York, sometimes from Canada. We've got to be able to find some farmers to make rye here in the state of Maryland. And so we approached a couple of local farmers that were introduced to us through the University of Maryland School of Agriculture. And the first year in 2018, we were able to grow and harvest about 36 ,000 pounds of rye in the state of Maryland. That was exciting for us. We kind of...

Drew Hannush (10:20.694)
Mm.

Ryan Norwood (10:23.063)
Drew, it's funny, we thought it was going to be this easy thing where, we're just going to plant some rye, we'll harvest it, we'll go through this process. What we found was it's a little bit more challenging than that. Rye is almost an uninsurable crop. There's not a lot of people that are able to buy insurance on it. There are no government subsidies to harvest rye. The only subsidies that they get from the government is if you actually use it as a cover crop, so if you till it back into the ground.

Drew Hannush (10:50.742)
Mm -hmm.

Ryan Norwood (10:50.807)
And rye is also a protected seed. So every time that you plant the seed, you have to go and buy it every single year. So you can't replant seeds. There's companies like KWS that actually own the genetic rights to rye. And so it makes it a little bit more challenging for farmers to be able to invest in this. And so one of the things we did from the start was we wanted to help mitigate some of that risk. So we buy all of the seed upfront at Sagamore.

We work with the farmers and if they can meet some quality specs that we put in place, we agree to a price on the back end to buy it from them. And the exciting thing is, is this has slowly evolved over the last few years. And in 2023, we grew 1 .6 million pounds of rye in the state of Maryland, which is really exciting for us.

Drew Hannush (11:36.694)
Wow.

That is fascinating. And I mean, it's always been talked about, like when the distillers were starting to make American single malts, that the prices were going up because of the fact that corn is subsidized. And so it helps create a less expensive product. And so those are unique challenges. And that's interesting to note about Riot. And it could kind of push you in a direction where you go,

maybe we should put more corn into our whiskey. But you know, I mean, then you what's interesting about Sagamore spirit is that a lot of distilleries will make a rye, but they'll also make a bourbon because bourbon is what everybody seems to know. It's the same thing that I hear in Tennessee. They're like, well, we make bourbon and Tennessee whiskey because people know bourbon. They don't necessarily know Tennessee whiskey. And so there's a real education that has to come along.

with this as well, is that, how do you get across to people kind of this idea of why you would just go with Rai and not have other spirits as well?

Ryan Norwood (12:52.535)
No, that's a great point. And I feel like education has been our kind of standing point from day one is how do we educate our consumers? How do we educate the trade to be excited about rye? And that's always been a little bit of a challenge because, you know, a lot of people I go and talk to, I say, have you tried rye whiskey? And oftentimes the first response is, I don't really like rye. It's a little harsh. It's a little too much for me. And what I always challenge them is to try Sagmar because...

It is more balanced. It does have that corn to kind of smooth it out, to add a little bit of sweetness. And then historically, rye, you know, a lot of your most historical cocktails were developed around rye whiskey. You look at the old fashioned, the Manhattan, the Sazerac, those were all developed around rye whiskey. And I feel like rye whiskey goes so well in a cocktail because it adds that spice. You know, a lot of your mixers, your cocktail ingredients are going to be.

on the sweeter side or maybe more inherently sweet, where to me, that mixed with bourbon is just kind of sweet and sweet. And rye has that more of a spice in that, that baking spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, that really balances well with a lot of your traditional cocktail ingredients.

Drew Hannush (14:04.342)
Yeah, it's the interesting thing about a cocktail is if you don't have a spirit that has enough personality, it's not really adding anything to the cocktail. Yeah.

Ryan Norwood (14:13.687)
Exactly, exactly, yeah. And that's what you want to taste the whiskey in it. You want to get that whiskey backbone, and then you want to taste the cocktail ingredients, but you don't want to just have the cocktail ingredients. You can do that without whiskey. So.

Drew Hannush (14:25.59)
Yeah. Now we see the bottles on the shelf. What I didn't connect with was the fact until I started doing whiskey flights here, was the idea of actually going to visit a Sagamore spirit. And you guys, after I looked online and saw pictures of it, that was like, wow, this is a beautiful facility and in a great location. So talk about the evolution of your moving from just distilling.

and trying to get to distilling to also creating a place that people can go and really engage with your whiskey.

Ryan Norwood (14:59.447)
And that has been the point from Sagamore Spirit from day one, from Kevin Plank and Bill McDermott was they wanted to, you know, unfortunately Baltimore can kind of get a bad reputation. And we have fought that all along. There are so many fantastic things happening in Baltimore, in Maryland, in the city. And what we wanted to do was we wanted to showcase that. We wanted to bring people into the city and say, there's a lot of fantastic things going on here. You just need to see them.

And part of that was very intentional. We built our distillery in downtown Baltimore, in South Baltimore, in an area called the Baltimore Peninsula. And that was intentional. And we were an anchor in this area that has been redeveloped over the last four years to draw people to come to Baltimore City. We're often a Passover. It's like you've got DC south of us and Philly to the north and 95 goes right through us. And a lot of times people can kind of just drive.

drive past and what we want to do is we wanted to give people a reason to stop in the city and visit Camden Yards or come down here and have a drink, visit the distillery, go on a tour. And so our facility was made for that. We are made as a showpiece. We offer tours Wednesday through Sunday. We get booked on the weekends and it's really fun and it's an experience. You walk through, you see the entire process on our tours. You learn about the history of Maryland rye whiskey. You learn about Sagamore. You learn about what we're doing here.

And then you get to walk through our products and taste through our products at the end. And we have a small little bar on site called 1909 Bar where you can get bespoke cocktails and try whiskey flights and just experience everything that we have to offer here at Saginaw.

Drew Hannush (16:38.166)
Do you describe the transition that you're doing from having sourced it to, and what kind of pot stills or column stills, how are you set up there?

Ryan Norwood (16:49.943)
Yes, we described that, like I said, as we've been very transparent about sourcing and having contract distillation from the beginning. So we walk our consumer through that and explain why we did it and how we've gotten to where we are. And so we run a main system. We have nine 6 ,500 gallon fermenters on site here. We have a 6 ,000 gallon cooker. Right now we run 10 shifts a week. And so we are not at full capacity, but we built this building to be able to grow to capacity.

and we run a 40 foot tall, 24 inch diameter copper column still with two doublers. There's not a lot of places that operate two doublers. So in a sense, we do a triple distillation, which is kind of a throwback to your traditional Irish distilleries. And I really think it helps to clean the spirit up a little bit. And so as part of the tour, you walk through our distillation process, you see the still, and then we're fortunate enough on site, we have a small 250 gallon pot -column hybrid.

and that's where we do a lot of research and development. The main still, per batch, will put off about 15 barrels of whiskey. Oftentimes when you're testing out a yeast drain or looking at a different grain, you don't want to make 15 barrels of whiskey of it. That's just a lot of whiskey. And so we have an opportunity to do that on a little bit of a smaller system as well. And for each batch we do on there, it produces a half a barrel of whiskey. So we'll usually run about four batches on the smaller system to be able to test things out and say,

Drew Hannush (18:00.63)
Yeah.

Ryan Norwood (18:14.423)
You know, it's never apples to apples, but it'll say that flavor profile work, you're heading in the right direction. It might be worth trying it on the larger system.

Drew Hannush (18:23.126)
have you, what kind of experiments have you done on there? Is there one that kind of stands out to you that seemed a little bit out there in terms of an experiment?

Ryan Norwood (18:33.143)
We have, we've done a lot of experimentation on the smaller system. And one of the fun ones we did was, we've kind of gotten a reputation for finishing. And so one of the finishes we did where we took our whiskey and put it into other barrels was we worked with Sierra Nevada and they wanted some barrels from us, some X -Ry whiskey barrels to age a beer in. The beer turned out fantastic. They shipped the barrels back to us. We put whiskey back into them and we had this kind of fun back and forth with them.

But then one of the things we did on our side was we took that exact beer recipe that they had made the beer out of, and we replicated that in a whiskey on our smaller system to see if the flavor profile would be at all the same. And so we play around with that. We play around with a lot of malted rye products too, because I like the flavor profile of the malted rye. And so there's a lot of fun stuff we have laid down in that smaller system that we actually have never even released anything out of that yet, and hoping to here in probably the next year or so.

Drew Hannush (19:30.678)
I sense some of those end up as distillery exclusive.

Ryan Norwood (19:33.751)
Absolutely, absolutely. It's a perfect marketplace for trial and to hear and get feedback from our consumers and especially our most loyal consumers to come in and say, wow, I really like that or hey, that wasn't exactly what I thought it would be and then we can make some tweaks to it.

Drew Hannush (19:49.462)
Yeah. So talk about the whiskey thieves club. Is that a way for people to kind of keep up with what you're experimenting with up there?

Ryan Norwood (19:59.511)
Yeah, so one of the things we started out very early was trying to build up kind of our brand ambassadors, our most loyal customers to get them to come along this journey with us. And that was it from the start. It's like I said, we've been very transparent. We wanted them to understand that this is where we are, this is where we're heading, and here's how we're going to get there. And the Whiskey Thieves have been right along with us in this journey. And they get first dibs on any of our distillery exclusive releases. They get news before anybody else does about...

what we're releasing, where we're going, why we're doing it. We throw a couple parties a year for our whiskey thieves and invite them in to share this experience with us. And it's not a spamming you all the time. It's more of just an update of here's where we're at. Here's, like I said, different distillery exclusives or events that we're having at the distillery to give them a first taste of anything that we're doing.

Drew Hannush (20:51.318)
So when people want to come visit, would you say the best thing to do is bring a car and park there or do you have kind of a suggestion? Because there's a lot of stuff to do downtown. What would be a good strategy for somebody?

Ryan Norwood (21:04.791)
Yeah, I think, I think coming by car is a very easy thing. Getting dropped off by a ride share is also super easy. We've got plenty of parking down here in Baltimore Peninsula. It's a very accessible place and really starting to activate as far as retail and other stuff. So what I would say is come and plan on spending the day in Baltimore City and come visit the distillery. We've got Rice Street Tavern. Restaurant is opening next door in about two and a half weeks, which we're really excited about.

And then you've got Camden Yards and &T Bank Stadium are all within a five minute drive of the distillery. So we are, like I said, right in the heart of the city and it's great. Come down here, you can park for the day, walk around and just experience the best that Baltimore has to offer.

Drew Hannush (21:49.526)
I was shocked by your location because I've been out to Fort McHenry and I always tell people when you hear the national anthem, you'll never hear it the same after you go to Fort McHenry where the song was written and that experience of seeing the fort there and that big flag hanging over the over the building and you are like right around the corner from that.

Ryan Norwood (22:13.207)
weird literally yeah, five minute drive from there. It's right around the corner and Drew, you said it best, like I get chills just thinking about that experience of being at Fort McHenry, hearing about the history, starting to play the national anthem and then have that screen drop down and you look up and the flags there and it's just like, it's very special and you know, the National Aquarium is a 10 minute drive from us so there's a lot of really, really fantastic things around.

Drew Hannush (22:37.398)
Well, Ryan, I really appreciate you walking through all of this. And now you got me excited about, checking things out while I'm up there and cruising around the city and doing, doing a bit more, exploration. So I appreciate you taking the time to talk through what you're doing there at sag more spirit and, cheers.

Ryan Norwood (22:56.471)
Thanks for your truth. I appreciate you having me on here.

Sponsor Burnt Church Distillery

I hope you enjoyed my interview earlier this week with Chris Crowe from Burnt Church Distillery in Bluffton, South Carolina. Word is getting around about the whiskies made at Burnt Church. The distillery was recently honored during Fred Minnick’s 2024 ASCOT awards with three platinum awards including platinum for their six-grain bourbon Anita’s Choice and Palmer’s Stretch rye, as well as a double platinum for Bluffton Whiskey which earned markes as the best of the Rice Whiskey category. Their unique flavors come from locally grown grains and their passion forstretching the limits of what whiskey can be. And now you can enjoy the flavor of these award winning whiskies by purchasing through seelbachs.com or burntchurchdistillery.com. And while you’re on the website, get a sense of the beauty of the distillery, Burnt Church’s dedication to the local community, and to book tours and mixology classes. I can tell you from personal experience, it's a distillery you won’t soon forget. Visit burntchurchdistillery.com.

Closing Details

I hope you enjoyed this virtual flight to the Sagamore Spirit Distillery. If I piqued your interest in traveling to Maryland and the distillery, make sure to head to whiskey-lore.com/maryland where you can view the profile of Sagamore Spirit and 22 other Maryland whisky making distilleries. Then, use the convenient Wish List feature to add this and other distilleries to your member dashboard, where you see a list of your favorite distilleries and get maps, tours booking links, and get access to hundreds of other distillery profiles from Scotland, Ireland, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, and now Maryland. Start your journey at whiskey-lore.com/maryland

Now, stay tuned because I’ll have some closing travel tips if you plan on visiting Sagamore Spirit Distillery, but first, it’s time for This Week in Whiskey Lore.

This Week in Whiskey Lore

This past week, Chattanooga Whiskey celebrated the release of its Founders 12th Anniversary blend, a whiskey that is designed to reflect on the distillery's past, present, and future. The blend includes their old sourced 1816 whisky, their current Barrel 91, and an infinity blend of experiments that signify the future.  If you can find it, it retails for $59.99.

https://www.bevindustry.com/articles/96694-chattanooga-whiskey-founders-12th-anniversary-blend

Meanwhile, 115 years ago this week, on June 30, 1909, saloons and liquor wholesalers in Chattanooga shuttered their doors for the last time, before Prohibition as the last four remaining wet areas of Tennessee were forced dry by the state's Four Mile Law. Jack Daniel’s nephew Spoon Motlow was one of the wholesalers and saloon owners who was forced closed. Chattanooga’s longest tenured distiller E.R. Betterton closed his saloon, distillery, and wholesale business, turning them over to his son-in-law- Charlie Cox - who moved the wholesale business to Cincinnati. Holdouts would include J.W. Kelly’s Carl White and the Wakeman Distillery. After Prohibition, Jack Daniel’s nephew Lem Motlow would be the first in the state to attempt bringing a distillery back to the state, but Charlie Cox was also interested in returning to the state and lobbied the governor, with hopes of rebuilding the White Oak Distillery in Chattanooga. His plan would fail, as would an attempt by another group, to register the second Tennessee distillery post-Prohibition in Tennessee. The second distillery gave up after the Klu Klux Klan, who fought on the side of temperance, threatened any return of distilling to Chattanooga. It took the modern Chattanooga Distillery to finally get the laws changed in 2013.

The Wrap Up

As we prepare to leave for our next destination, I wanted to give you three reasons why I put the Sagamore Spirit Distillery on my Whiskey Lore Wish List. 

  • First, if you’re rye curious, Sagamore Spirit is a great place to learn about the heritage of one of America’s once dominant rye whisky producing states. If you’ve tasted other ryes, you’ll get a sense of how Sagamore believes Maryland-style rye is different.
  • Second, is the distillery’s location along the scenic waterfront. Beyond the modern facilities the picturesque views will make it a distillery to remember.
  • And third, after your tour, you can relax at the Nineteen O’ Nine Whiskey Bar, and enjoy a variety of handcrafted cocktails and exclusive distillery releases. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy a classic or seasonal cocktail made with Sagamore Spirit rye whiskey

I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. It’s time to head back to Camden Station and then take the MARC commuter train to Washington DC, then switch to the 895 to our next destination Frederick, MD, where we’ll explore two diverse distilleries that sit just a block apart. Make sure you’re subscribed to the Whiskey Lore podcast so you don’t miss our next adventure. I’m your travel guide Drew Hannush. Until we meet again, cheers and Slainte mhath. 


For transcripts and travel information including maps, distillery planning information and more, head to whiskey-lore.com/flights

About Sagamore Spirit Distillery

Founded by Under Armour's Kevin Plank in 2013, Sagamore Spirit distillery takes its name from the historic Sagamore Farm, a renowned thoroughbred horse farm in Maryland. Located on the scenic Baltimore Peninsula, the distillery initially sourced its spirits but is gradually transitioning to its own distilled products. By researching historical Maryland ryes and partnering with local farms, Sagamore Spirit honors the state's rich whiskey-making heritage. Visitors can enjoy a cocktail at the 1909 bar, join the summer concert series, partake in Whiskey on the Water events, or take a tour culminating in a tasting session.

Take a Whiskey Flight to Sagamore Spirit Distillery

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Note: This distillery information is provided “as is” and is intended for initial research only. Be aware, offerings change without notice and distilleries periodically shut down or suspend services. Always use the distillery’s websites to get the most detailed and up-to-date information. Your due diligence will ensure the smoothest experience possible.