Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Sagamore Spirit. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Once a hub for distilleries in the country, Maryland suffered through Prohibition. Before the Volstead Act, there were two distinct styles of American rye whiskey. Pennsylvania rye is known to be bolder and spicier, whereas Maryland rye is more delicate and sweeter by comparison. Since 2008, Maryland has experienced a rebirth in distilleries, including Sagamore Spirit.
Sagamore Spirit specializes in Maryland rye. For their new Distiller’s Select series, they have released a Manhattan Finish, Rye Ale Finish, Calvados Finish, and Tequila Finish. The Distiller’s Select Tequila Finish uses former Extra Añejo tequila barrels. Extra Añejo is a newer sub-category in the tequila market. Añejo matures from one to three years, whereas Extra Añejo matures for a minimum of three years.
With the Añejo interacting with the oak staves for longer, the next liquid placed in the barrel will have more tequila flavor to pick up. At the moment, Sagamore Spirit uses MGP rye whiskey as the base spirit for the Distiller’s Select Tequila Finish. In 2017, Sagamore Spirit built its distillery on a five-acre piece of land. Soon, all product lines will showcase Sagamore Spirit’s distinct Maryland rye whiskey. Tequila and rye are my favorite spirits, so I cannot wait to see how the Extra Añejo affects the rye flavor profile.
Sagamore Spirit Distiller’s Select Tequila Finish (image via Sagamore Spirit)
Nose: The whiskey is high-proof but does not burn the nostrils. In the beginning, buttered popcorn and charred orange peel give off a funk. Wood chip smoke hovers above the dram. Once deeper into the nose, there is a garden of roses and jasmine.
Palate: First off, the tongue is greeted with orange segment and cinnamon. The whiskey is sweet with honey and Mexican vanilla. The Extra Añejo tequila leaves an imprint on the rye. It is strange to describe the palate of a whiskey as refreshing, however, there are no other words to describe the brightness of the citrus. The finish is hot from the ABV, yet it is also peppery from black peppercorn. Overall, it does not drink like 98 proof.
A little extra time in a barrel never hurt anything, and the way the Extra Añejo works with the rye is fabulous. I hope the Distiller's Select series does not remain limited, because everyone should be buying a bottle. The price point is worth it for this whiskey. The palate is unique, and I find myself reaching for it to make Old Fashioneds with a little grapefruit bitters and cinnamon maple syrup.
Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...