Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Sagamore Spirit is a Maryland distillery that specializes in rye whiskey, utilizing local agricultural partnerships with farmers in the Baltimore Peninsula area. The use of Maryland-grown rye contributes to the unique flavor of this Sagamore Spirit Reserve Series 8-Year-Old Rye Whiskey tasting, and the 2021 release of the 8-Year-Old expression earned several awards from such esteemed contests as the ASCOTs and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, adding to the distillery’s more than 200 awards since production started.
This rye was aged in new charred American white oak barrels for at least 8 years, and notably, as confirmed by Sagamore Spirit co-founder and president Brian Treacy, “Our 8-Year-Old Rye Whiskey comes from some of the first liquid we put into barrels and set us on the path to where we are today.”
Maryland Rye Whiskey has been a unique source of rye as Maryland distillers have utilized Maryland-grown grain, known for having a stronger rye flavor. Sagamore Spirit is a highly esteemed and awarded distillery, and I’ve found this spirit to be a spice and rye heavy whiskey, something that might seem intuitive, but I have encountered a fair share of rye whiskeys that don’t deliver on that rye promise.
To be officially labeled a Rye, the whiskey must be made from a fermented mash of 51% rye grain and proofed down to no more than 62.5% ABV at the time of bottling. The Sagamore Spirit Reserve Series 8-Year-Old Rye was a standout of the year for me, delivering one of the most complex and pleasant flavor profiles I’ve had in some time. The Reserve Series also includes releases of a Port Finish, Rum Cask Finish, and Sherry Finish.
Tasting Notes: Sagamore Spirit Reserve Series 8-Year-Old Rye Whiskey
Vital Stats: Aged 8 years in new charred American white oak barrels. 111.4 Proof (55.7% ABV). SRP $79 for a 750ml bottle.
Appearance: Tones of copper line the Glencairn and a swish of the wrist welcomes long legs.
Nose: A sweet bite nips at the nose, medicinal notes along with apricot and pumpkin pie spice join a smidge of smokiness.
Palate: A cornucopia of flavors that all unite into a rye whiskey that gives a little of everything, a unique umami taste. The smooth mouthfeel makes it easy to pick out fudgy notes, peppery at points, with elements of not overly ripe boysenberry. The whiskey is voluminous and moves smoothly toward a long finish.