Whiskey Review: Sagamore Spirit Mezcal Cask Aged Straight Rye

, | December 27, 2022

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. 

First opened to the public in 2017, Sagamore Spirit began as a concept by Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour. He wanted to use the water at Sagamore Farm to craft whiskey. This limestone-filtered water is from a springhouse built in 1909 (thus the 1909 on the labels). It is rich in calcium, which the company notes is ideal for whiskey production.

The base of the Sagamore Spirit Mezcal Cask Aged Straight Rye is the company’s four-year-old Maryland-style rye. The core recipe is a blend of two mash bills, one high rye and one low rye, which are aged at the distillery. Although some of the spirits are distilled in Indiana at MGP, the whiskey is proofed with this magical water. Aging is done in a non-climate controlled rickhouse in North Point, where the Maryland summer heat will heavily impact the aging spirits.

This creates what is known as a Maryland-style rye whiskey. Producers vary on the definition. The allure of tying their style back to historical practices has led modern day Maryland producers to proclaim different definitions of the style, resulting in a semi-uniformity with ties, if dubious, to historical practices if no set recipe. At the very least, modern distilleries can point to a concept to rally around: Maryland rye is “sweeter than the rye made farther west, with less spice and a supple, perhaps buttery palate.” Sagamore and others define it as mostly rye but heavy on the corn for some extra sweetness.

Historically, rye was likely one of the first grains made into whiskey in the English colonies. The theory, according to the Maryland Distiller’s Guild, is that rye was easier to grow in the climate and benefited tobacco’s growth by enriching the soil. As plantings of corn by settlers increase, it naturally made its way into the spirits, too. Distillation practices were influenced also by the Irish Catholics that settled the area, who preferred smooth spirits made with some unmalted grains.

This añejo mezcal cask-finished release is not the first time Sagamore has dabbled with agave-spirit casks, having released an extra añejo tequila-finished rye. Mezcal differs from tequila in that it is less restrictive in its production requirements. Tequila must be made from blue agave within five Mexican states. Looser restrictions don’t necessarily mean lower quality, as mezcal tends to be more of a craft artisanal product whereas tequila is more likely to be industrial. Añejo mezcal is aged for a minimum of one year in barrel.

The distillery notes that the whiskey offers flavors of “rich smoke, dark molasses, brown sugar, peppercorn, and coriander, with a hint of vanilla.” This is a glamorous and hefty bottle with fabulous lines, though its exaggerated size makes it rather difficult to hold in my not so tiny hands.

As prominently stated on the bottle, this Batch 1A is a distillery exclusive. While you’re there, if you’re into merch, check out their massive collection, also available online, including barware, clothing, enamel pins, stickers, and more.

Sagamore Spirit Mezcal Finished Straight Rye review

Sagamore Spirit Mezcal Finished Straight Rye (image via Suzanne Bayard/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Sagamore Spirit Mezcal Cask Aged Straight Rye

Vital Stats: Aged for 4 years in new oak barrels and finished for 26 months in añejo mezcal casks, 53% ABV, mash bill: at least 52% rye with a high amount of corn, SRP $79/ 750ml bottle.

Appearance: This whiskey is deep brown in color with orange undertones.

Nose: The nose is decedent with notes of sweet treats and chocolate. I pick up aromas of melted milk chocolate, toasted marshmallows, and toffee. This is intensely aromatic and reminds me of tawny Port wine in its lush caramel and mocha notes. Wow! With time in the glass, it offers up raisiny notes of PX sherry, pumpernickel bread, and Werther’s Originals. After pouring, I pick up a smoky, waxy aroma to the room like a recently snuffed candle. It’s quite potent!

Palate: This opens with a rich smoky note of maple-cured bacon and charcoal. It’s a BBQ pit-master’s dream! The flavor is sweet with a hint of allspice and clove alongside flavors of melted brown sugar. I had thought that this would be a touch overwhelming, given the strength of the aromatics, but it’s just delightfully decedent.

Whiskey Review: Sagamore Spirit Mezcal Cask Aged Straight Rye


This is wildly impactful, both aromatically and on the palate. It’s not something I imagine turning to frequently, but I could see this as a fun pairing with caramelized onions, BBQ, and loaded pizzas. A dash of water brings out sweet fruit notes and seems to amp up the sugar, so enjoy with a few drops of H2O as an after-dinner drink.

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Suzanne Bayard

Suzanne Bayard struck out to the West Coast with her now husband almost a decade ago to explore the intersection of wine and policy in its world-class wine regions. She manages a Portland, OR bottle shop by day as the wine buyer and newsletter editor. She is also the Director...