Rye whiskey has been having a bit of a Renaissance in the last couple of years and it’s been great to see it make a comeback. However, few people realize that there can be different styles of rye whiskey, each one a slight variation of the other. This week the spotlight is on: Maryland-style rye whiskey.
Maryland-style ryes are made with rye and barley not corn. By using only rye and barley, drinkers find the liquor to be slightly spicy and herbal. Demand for Maryland-style rye whiskey rapidly declined after the second World War and it’s just been recently that it’s started to pop up again.
One Maine distiller has returned to his Maryland roots and recently unveiled a Maryland-style rye whiskey called Gunpowder Rye Whiskey. The distiller, Ned Wight of New England Distilling, is the great-great-great grandson of John Jacob Wight, the founder of Maryland-based Sherwood Rye Whiskey.
Wight told the Huffington Post that he had always been aware of the family history, but he didn’t start to think seriously about it until he discovered brewing. He worked for many years at Allagash Brewing in Maine and opened his own distillery in April 2012.
Wight knew he needed to develop a rye whiskey and thought back to his childhood in Maryland. He told the Huffington Post:
“It was what my family made in Maryland and I wanted to make it as well, partly because of the connection to family history (which I love), partly because it’s different than scotch or bourbon, and lastly, because it is really a wonderful style of whiskey.”
Although the style of his Gunpowder Rye Whiskey is all Maryland, Wight is also using this as an opportunity to showcase grains from Maine. Last month they started using Maine rye at a production level and will soon completely switch from Midwest grains to Maine rye.
Have you found a great brand of Maryland-style rye whiskey? What’s your favorite?