Sagamore Rye Cask Strength
One of our favorite aspects of our whiskey journey is trading recommendations with friends and family. It’s always exciting to learn about new flavors that our friends have found, and it helps us step out of our predominantly peated comfort zone. One of our followers and fellow whiskey lover is Lee’s godfather who gave us a recommendation for the Sagamore Rye Cask Strength.
Rye whiskey has a long history the United States, becoming popular in Pennsylvania and Maryland in the late 18th century. By law, rye whiskey must contain at least 51% rye, and many distillers will utilize a much higher proportion of rye in their mash bill. The remainder is commonly made up of malted barley or corn. A rye whiskey is considered ‘straight rye’ if it has been aged at least two years.
Sagamore is a rye focused distillery out of Baltimore, Maryland. While the company has been in operation since 2013, the actual distillery has only been up and running since 2017. As such, Sagamore worked with the mammoth MGP distillery to produce the first years of releases. MGP produces spirits for dozens of other companies, particularly craft distillers looking to get off the ground. Our view is that as long as this fact is made clear, we have no issues. In fact, Sagamore has been able to win several awards, including double golds at the San Francisco Spirits Competition. In addition to a flagship rye, the distillery also offers rye finished in port and Moscatel wine barrels as well as the cask strength variety.
Sagamore Cask Strength Rye
Longtime readers may have noticed our affinity for cask strength and single barrel whiskey, and yet this is our first cask strength rye. Our particular bottle clocks in at 112.6 proof, so at 56.3% ABV, this rye sits in the middle of the intensity of the cask strength spirits we’ve reviewed. According to Sagamore, each batch is blended with a bit of Maryland spring water before bottling, but not enough to lose the ‘cask strength’ badge. We liked the bottle shape that Sagamore uses, with references to the diamond pattern from the Maryland state flag.
Eyes: The whiskey is a brown and gold hue that resembles leather. Giving the glass a quick swirl shows a body and texture we would characterize as medium to rich.
Nose: The nose is approachable in spite of the high proof. Lots of fresh peppermint and healthy amount of oak and sawdust mix to create a very herbal aroma.
Taste: This whiskey throws a lot at you flavor wise. We first tasted black pepper on top of a texture that brought to mind some strong, fresh olive oil and herbs. Then as the heat from the high proof abated, we encountered a wave of sweetness in the form of peppermint candies and honey.
Finish: The Cask Strength Rye had a clean and relaxed finish with a hefty amount of mint and a bit of caramel.
The Sagamore Cask Strength Rye is definitely an intriguing whiskey and complex enough to give us something different in every sip. The flavor varied from candy sweet to hearty and savory, and at one point Lee was sure he could taste roast lamb (perhaps a connection to the man who referred us to this bottle). The whiskey was not pure black pepper or mint as some ryes tend to be. We’re interested to see how the Cask Strength Rye changes as Sagamore starts bottling product distilled at their own facility.