Rye whiskey was once synonymous with Maryland
on 04/03/11 at 1:13 amSpirits
Blackwater Distilling is set to begin bottling Sloop Betty vodka in Stevensville next month, marking the resumption after nearly 30 years of the proud tradition of distilling spirits in Maryland.
“There’s something about bringing that industry back that means something,” Christopher Cook, a partner with his brother Jonathan in Blackwater, told Baltimore Sun reporter Jill Rosen recently.
During rye whiskey’s golden age, connoisseurs across the land instantly associated Wight’s Sherbrook, Old Reserve, Ryebrook, Mount Vernon, Sherwood Pure Rye, Hunter’s — “First Over the Bars” — and Pikesville Rye, to name only a few that were once distilled here, with Maryland.
The distilling of rye whiskey in America goes back to the 1700s, when farmers who had planted rye and wheat as cover crops over tobacco-ravaged land found it was easier and more profitable to distill rather than ship the surplus grain.
George Washington‘s overseer at Mount Vernon, John Anderson, urged him to turn his surplus rye into whiskey and established a distillery on the grounds. The formula was simple: rye grain, malted barley and Indian corn.
Rye whiskey is 51 percent rye, while bourbon is 51 percent corn, in case you want to try cooking up a batch at home sometime. For rye, add 34 percent corn, 11 percent barley malt and 4 percent rye malt.
The “green whiskey” is then placed in barrels for aging from four to eight years, so don’t reach for glasses and ice right away.