Bringing Rye Back To Baltimore with Brian Treacy and Ryan Norwood of Sagamore Spirit (Bourbon Pursuit #341)

, | January 23, 2022

Rye whiskey production had a historic past in the northeastern states, especially Pennsylvania and Maryland. And now Sagamore Spirit based in Baltimore is bringing rye whiskey back. Ryan and I traveled to record this interview with their CEO, Brian Tracey, and their Director of Operations, Ryan Norwood. We uncover Brian’s unique past of how a phone call with Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armor, would take him from running a backpacking and kayaking company in Flagstaff Arizona to building a new distillery from the ground up. One of Brian’s tasks was to find a distiller and that led to a few conversations with Ryan Norwood, a young guy who was really into yeast and beers. Sagamore had a longstanding relationship with MGP but now they have their own Maryland rye distillate and we talk about how they shaped and revitalized the Maryland rye category.

Show Notes:

  • Brian talk about how you go from ski bum to whiskey CEO?
  • How did you cross paths with Under Armor CEO, Kevin Plank, and him ask you to become CEO?
  • What did you know about the distilling business before starting?
  • What did Kevin like about the distilling business?
  • What was the initial vision?
  • After you were convinced to start, who was the first call you made?
  • When did Ryan Norwood come into the picture for distilling?
  • Walk us through the differences be between brewing and distilling.
  • What was is like working with Larry Ebersold to develop your Maryland style rye?
  • Why do distilleries go with 95/5 rye?
  • What was the process of figuring out how to scale and go beyond a 500 gallon pot still?
  • Why only distill rye whiskey when bourbon is so popular?
  • What does it mean to you when articles begin coming out without any affiliation to Under Armor?
  • As a CEO, what are you trying to empower your people with?
  • What was it about going down the path of finished whiskeys?
  • Do you have any horror stories from working with barrel brokers on used barrels?
  • Here’s how we all came together to collaborate on Pursuit United Rye.
  • @sagamorespirit @sagamorewhiskeybrian @smilesdavisjr
  • Support this podcast on Patreon
Read More Whiskey News
Breckenridge Distillery's Latest Whiskey Sports Special Artist Label

This post first appeared on Bourbon Pursuit at

Never miss an episode from Bourbon Pursuit on:

Shop ReserveBar Today.


Bourbon Pursuit

Kenny Coleman and Ryan Cecil host the Bourbon Pursuit podcast from Louisville, KY. Together, they share a passion for the stories that made an industry flourish with a focus on history, personality, and of course, great bourbon. Their guests include master distillers, bloggers, historians, local events and more.