Whiskey Review: Sagamore Reserve Vintner's Finish - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Sagamore Reserve Vintner’s Finish

It’s no secret that water quality has almost as much to do with the flavor of any spirit as the grains that make up the mash bill. Rye whiskey is typically known for it’s huge, spicy flavor. However, rye whiskey from Maryland has a reputation for being sweeter and more delicate than other rye whiskies. This is partially a result of adding corn to the mash, where others may use 100% rye for a bolder flavor, but it’s also the result of calcium deposits from limestone, found throughout the state’s rivers and streams. Maryland has been producing rye whiskey since the state was founded, and for many reasons including prohibition, production fell by the wayside. Some distilleries, like Sagamore Spirits, are bringing traditional ryes back to the state.

Since opening their doors by the waterfront in Baltimore, Maryland, Sagamore Spirits had their eyes on the ryes. In 2013, their first releases were ryes from “our friends in Indiana,” probably meaning a large-scale producer like MGP, a common practice by new distilleries to get their products on shelves until they are able to use their own varieties. Once the whiskey was delivered to its new home in Baltimore, the distillers at Sagamore went to work, blending the whiskies and adding Sagamore Farm spring water to proof. In 2017, distillers began the four-year-long process of producing their own single-malt expression.

Sagamore Reserve Vintner’s Finish is aged for four years before being transferred into pinot noir, shiraz and port wine barrels for seven months. It’s then blended with all three wine finishes, creating a wine-soaked whiskey experience.

Sagamore Reserve Vintner's Finish

Sagamore Reserve Vintner’s Finish (image via Sagamore)

Whiskey Review: Sagamore Reserve Vintner’s Finish 

Vital Stats: The mash bill consists of rye, corn and malted barley. It’s a blend of straight rye whiskey finished in Port and other red wine casks. A bottle of Vintner’s Finish retails for $58.

Appearance: It’s earthy and brown like a maple tree, with hits of orange fall leaves. The legs form a triangular zig zag pattern dripping quickly down the glass.

Nose: The cinnamon is huge and slightly overpowering. There are notes of dark cherry and vanilla bean and coffee. On the back end, notes of a ripe blackberry bush on a hot day waft into the scene. The wine barrel-aging adds light sweetness and fruit scents, although I wouldn’t call it fruit-forward.

Palate: The Cinnamon and the powdery flavor from Big Red gum, followed up with a sweet french vanilla. My mouth puckered up a little bit with the taste of copper pennies before the whiskey mellowed out with notes of wine-soaked oak barrels. It’s a nice flavor journey, not very long with a nice balance of flavors.

The Takeaway

I appreciated the complexity of the whiskey and how the taste changes in unique ways. The only thing I wasn't excited about was the cinnamon flavor that's present and forward throughout. I would open up a bottle of this around Christmas to share with my whiskey-loving uncles.

User Rating 5 (1 vote)