Forgotten Barrels, Resurrected Brands ...Maryland Natives , Liquor Store Owners and Whiskey Enthusiasts Justin Jarvis and Doc George Fotis created the Maryland Heritage Series. This collection of distinct rye , bourbon and american whiskey batches continues to deliver. All barrel proof, these releases are sourced from 14 year MGP/LDI 95/5 rye, 16 year old MGP Bourbon and 15 year old Lite Whiskey. Many of these barrels were distilled in December of 2007 aged for 12 years in Indiana and 2 years in Maryland. Batched and bottled locally in Maryland, all releases use resurrected pre-prohibition Maryland Rye labels not with the intent to duplicate the old Maryland Style but instead to pay homage to Maryland’s storied rye past. We hope you enjoy these amazing ryes.
Since the beginning of the colonial days in America, Marylanders have been trailblazing what has become the state’s signature style of rye whiskey. In the decades leading up to Prohibition, Maryland along with Pennsylvania and Kentucky led the nation in the production of distilled spirits and Maryland rye whiskey was imitated and sought after throughout the land. After Prohibition, the Maryland whiskey industry never fully recovered, and what was revived died a slow death, with the last Maryland whiskey distillery ceasing production in 1972. For the following forty years, the once-great Maryland whiskey lineage that spanned more than two centuries was no more.
The consensus among whiskey drinkers and those in the whiskey industry, now and in the past, is that Maryland style whiskey is rye whiskey. The recipe is loose, but it has a mash bill of mostly rye, some corn, and a little malted barley. The recipes vary, and they always have, but it’s the spicy rye cushioned with the sweet corn and just a little hint of barley that gives Maryland rye whiskey its dynamic taste. It is delicate and bold, spicy, sweet and fruity, all separately and at the same time.
The ingredients and process of making whiskey had gone essentially unchanged for hundreds and hundreds of years. There is however one main thing that has changed from the early days of distilling grain to what we now know as whiskey. In fact, the whiskey of olden days would not even be able to be called whiskey by today’s legal standards. From the earliest beginnings of distilling grain, the process had gone from grain to mash to the still and then into an earthen pot or clay jug or pan or bottle or any other thing that one might have to hold their whiskey long enough to transport it and to later enjoy - but not necessarily a barrel.
Now in recent years, the fame of Maryland rye whiskey has returned. There are distillers around the country again making whiskies that proclaim to be of the Maryland rye whiskey style. Distilleries like New Liberty Distillers in Philadelphia, PA, New England Distilling in Portland, ME, Leopold Bros, in Denver, CO, and Far North Spirits in Hallock, MN, all have whiskies labeled to be Maryland style.
Even the celebrated and highly awarded Pikesville Straight Rye, a Maryland style rye, made by Heaven Hill in Kentucky, was originally made in Maryland near the town of Pikesville. Pikesville Rye was the last of the great Maryland ryes to cease operation in the 1970’s. The distillers at Heaven Hill just couldn’t bear to see the Maryland whiskey legacy go completely away and so they bought the recipe and the name and made Pikesville Supreme Maryland style rye whiskey for decades that could only be found in and around Maryland. Heaven Hill’s recent version of Pikesville Supreme, which is called Pikesville Straight Rye has won awards and is introducing a new global generation to Maryland style rye. And now of course, there are many new distilleries in Maryland that have also embraced this rich old heritage of the Maryland style rye whiskey and are producing versions of their own.
Perhaps partly, for this same reason Maryland rye has made a huge comeback. Bourbon is still as good as ever. But people are always looking for the next good thing and many have rediscovered Maryland rye. First for its great inherent qualities that make it an excellent spirit for classic cocktails like Manhattans, Sazeracs, and Whiskey Sours; all originally made with rye. Also for its ability to mix wonderfully into all of the new hip cocktails. And of course, the whiskey connoisseurs, love Maryland rye to sip all by itself.
By T.W. Wright
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