Sagamore Spirit Launches Crowd-Sourced Effort to Uncover the Real Story of American Whiskey’s Origins

Sagamore Spirit Launches Crowd-Sourced Effort to Uncover the Real Story of American Whiskey’s OriginsWhat (or is it “which”) came first: Kentucky bourbon or Maryland rye? Sagamore Spirit, maker of award-winning 83 proof and cask strength Maryland-style rye whiskies, today embarked on a mission to find out, and is inviting whiskey lovers across the country to help. With the launch of, a timeline-style forum that invites submissions of historical evidence and healthy debate, the rye whiskey distiller is hoping to uncover the full, real story of American whiskey’s origins.

The effort is rooted in documents that Sagamore Spirit recently uncovered that suggest early Maryland settlers may well have been making — and selling — whiskey long before bourbon gained its reputation as America’s native spirit. Sagamore Spirit discovered documentation deep in the Maryland State Archives of the imposition of the first whiskey tax in the then-colonies in 1756, four years before Jacob Beam was born, and nearly 40 years before Kentucky was founded through annexation from Virginia.

What’s more, the Baltimore-based distillers visited the Maryland Historical Society to find an invoice signed by George Washington for a 40-gallon whiskey delivery to people at work improving the navigability of the Potomac River in 1785. At the time, nearly all whiskey consumed in the fledgling republic came from local producers.

“We’re out to set history straight,” said Sagamore Spirit President, Brian Treacy. “While we’re headstrong on reviving Maryland-style rye, what we found inspired us to open this conversation wider. Pennsylvania and New York have a rich whiskey history, too. There’s quite a story out there, now it’s time to share it.”
Contributing to Whiskey Wiki is simple. Those who have a story to tell about a notable event in whiskey history can add it directly to the site with supporting photos and documentation. All stories deemed valid by historians retained by Sagamore Spirit will be published on the official Whiskey Wiki timeline. But it doesn’t stop there — others are invited to challenge, support and enhance each posting to help the wiki paint a full and true picture of whiskey history. The next missing piece is out there waiting to be found — in attics, basements, or even family photo albums.

To share what you know about America’s whiskey making heritage, visit

About Sagamore Spirit
Sagamore Spirit opened its award-winning five-acre waterfront distillery campus in Baltimore in April 2017. Since then, nearly 60,000 guests have visited the campus and tasted the brand’s 30-time award-winning rye whiskies. Each batch of whiskey is made with pure spring-fed Maryland water. The distillation team blends two different rye mash bills — a high rye and a low rye — and then adds limestone-filtered spring water transported 22 miles from Sagamore Farm, to create an 83 proof Maryland-style rye whiskey. 100 percent of Sagamore Rye is cut to proof with this distinct water. Sagamore Spirit also offers a Cask Strength whiskey that is 112 — 114 proof. Sagamore Spirit is committed to inspiring a global passion for Maryland Rye Whiskey.