What’s said to be the first distilled whiskey in Maine since Prohibition went on sale in the New England region recently. The distillery it heralds from, New England Distilling, is somewhat of a historical item itself, with its owner Ned Wight picking up a family whiskey distilling tradition that he says on his distillery website began back in the days of his great-great-great grandfather near Baltimore, Maryland. It ran down through the generations until 1958, before Wight opened shop in 2011 to offer, among other spirits, a locally sourced rye.
Known as Gunpowder Rye, this whiskey is described by the distiller as being a Maryland style rye. What is this style you might ask? As Red, White and Bourbon describes it in a recent review of a different rye in the same loose classification this style “aimed to achieve a softer profile by using a lower rye content. This style was also known for adding some dark fruit juices to contribute a certain level of depth.” It was once a dominate style, but shifting public tastes in whiskey ended its popularity until recently.
As for the New England Distilling offering it draws its mash bill from grain grown in New England. It was distilled in small batches in a “traditional copper pot still” before resting in barrels for a year that are laid in racks that were “rescued” from an old facility in Maryland.
Tasting notes from the distillery indicate a rye “with toasted malt flavor and big barrel character. The finish is long with vanilla and chocolate notes.” As for availability, you’ll need to be in Maine or Massachusetts for now to get hold of a bottle.
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...