Pennsylvania and New York rye whiskeys generally adhere to a higher percentage of rye grains in their mash bill -- typically way more than 51% because, contrary to the law specified above, to be defined as a New York rye, the spirit must have 75% rye grain in its mash bill. Maryland ryes, however, add corn to their mash bills, not just cereal grains. This is what gives them such a unique and quaffable flavor profile. But Sagamore Spirit takes the Maryland style’s drinkability factors and turns them all the way up.
To achieve this, Sagamore Spirit uses two distinctly different whiskeys with two distinctly different mash bills to achieve their incredibly complex flavor profile. Whiskey number one is composed of 95% rye and 5% malted barley. This is going to be what gives Sagamore Spirit its pepperiness and robust backbone.
Whiskey number two is lighter, sweeter, and more bourbon-esque. It’s made almost like a high-rye bourbon (think Basil Hayden’s) and composed of 52% rye grain. The remaining percentage is a split of malted barley and corn. After being distilled, each spirit is aged separately for four to five years in new, charred American oak barrels. Then, after they’re aged, the two whiskeys are blended together. “Putting them together, you get the best of both worlds,” Treacy says.
But the real, unreplicable ingredient in Sagamore Spirit's recipe is what makes it taste rich and pure. All Sagamore Spirit rye is made with spring water drawn from Sagamore Farm, a 30-minute drive north of Baltimore. To Treacy, the limestone-rich water is to his whiskey what New York’s water is to its bagels; it’s the element that makes it distinctly Maryland.