Tasteless Tastings (Take 2): Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Rye Whiskey

Welcome to the second Tasteless Tastings installment, which is exactly what it sounds like: tasting notes from the riffraff. If you follow the liquor industry to any capacity, you probably have come across snooty tasting notes from classy people who make the new spirit sound more like a science experiment than something you consume for fun or to forget the world around you. I want to shoot gayly forward from the hip and tell you how it really tastes. So each time the nice mailman brings me a sample to try, I’ll gather up some friends and we’ll have a candid, lively and unpolitically correct discussion about said sample. So let’s do it …

Sagamore Spirit is from Baltimore.

What are we drinking today?: Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Rye Whiskey

What the hell is it?: Sagamore Spirit is a new Baltimore-based distillery that specializes in rye whiskeys. They’ve released a Rye American Whiskey at 83 proof and now the Cask Strength Rye Whiskey at anywhere from 111-113 proof. It is now available in Kentucky.

Why do we care?: Baltimore has a storied history in distilling, and Sagamore uses an interesting method to produce its whiskeys. According to the press release:

“Sagamore Spirit ages two different rye mash bills – a high rye and a low rye – and then blends them to make their proprietary recipe. A ladle of Sagamore Farm spring-fed water is added for a touch of smoothness. Sagamore drives this water 22 miles from the limestone spring at Sagamore Farm to their bottling facility at City Garage in Port Covington. 100 percent of both Sagamore’s 83-proof rye and Cask Strength Rye uses this distinct water.”

Give me the nerdy numbers: The regular Sagamore Rye is 83 proof, while the Cask Strength is 111-113 proof. The whiskey is aged at just under four years old, and the Cask Strength retails for $73.99 for a 750mL bottle.

What do we think?: First, let me start by saying what other people have thought about the whiskey. According to the press release, since hitting the market in May of this year, Sagamore has won five national awards and will continue to enter its products in competitions.

Cask is whack.

So what did my panel of primarily bourbon drinkers think of this Baltimore whiskey? It wasn’t good, but that’s not to say it’s bad. Remember: These people just came off a tasting of Woodford Reserve’s Master Collection and a couple other semi-sweet bourbons. It was probably my fault for placing the rye whiskey at the end of the session.

For lovers of high-rye bourbons and rye whiskeys, you must try Sagamore for its complex spiciness and peppery undertones. And the Cask Strength is strong. Very strong. So strong, some of my panelists were complaining of a sinus infection induced by whiskey consumption.

Here’s a snippet of the conversation:

Tracy: It’s smooth, but there’s an underlying metallic taste. Oh wait … here comes that warm afterglow.
Britany: Whoa! I feel like it’s doing something to my sinuses!
Me: It kinda tastes like Grandpa’s attic. Or how I imagine George Washington’s breath to smell like.
Erik: I don’t love this at all. It feels rushed.
Britany: My mouth won’t stop making saliva. Make it stop!
Tracy: It’s not bad, but I don’t think I’d buy it.
Britany: I don’t want this anymore. Goodbye!

Next time on Tasteless Tastings … we’ll tackle Michter’s new 10-Year Rye Whiskey and two products just hitting the Kentucky market called Best Damn Sweet Tea and Best Damn Cream Soda. That should be interesting. Stay tuned …

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