Many Maryland whiskey, rum and vodka distilleries are in fun historic towns or gorgeous locations. We have a map, descriptions and pictures to help you plan
Fact is modern distilling is a young industry. It died out in Maryland in the early part of the last century and they’re revving it back up in this new century.
Whiskey goes into barrels for at least three years; ten years or more for good whiskey. Here’s the quiet part out-loud — Many of Maryland’s distillers are blending their whiskey with an Indiana base while their own is tucked away aging.
However, current Maryland rye can be bourbon-sweet (Bad Alfred) or tingling with rye-spice (Sagamore). Gray Wolf has a rye that’s all-Maryland and smooth as bourbon, but it’s so limited right now that they only have half-bottle sizes.
As soon as the whiskey is barreled long enough, around the late 2020s, we’ll have some fine Maryland through-and-through rye and bourbon.
In the meantime, enjoy a beautiful day trip and have fun with it.
405 Cleat Street, Stevensville, MD 21666
- Sloop Betty Vodka
- Picaroon Rum
- Blackwater Wheated Bourbon
Blackwater Distilling is Maryland’s first modern licensed distiller, opened in 2008. Blackwater Distilling started making Sloop Betty vodka in Stevensville on Kent Island. Nothing fancy, the distillery is located in an office park. Sloop Betty went on the market in 2011 and carved out a significant slice of regional vodka sales. It’s recently expanded to rum and bourbon.
Blackwater Distilling is on Kent Island, known for its Chesapeake Bay beaches, cycling trails, crab shacks and beautiful waterfront dining. There’s also historic Stevensville with antique stores and a historic walk through the tiny town.
#2 – Windon Distilling
605 S Talbot St #6, St Michaels, MD 21663
- Lyon Dark Rum
- Lyon White Rum
- Assorted flavored rums
In 2014, Windon Distilling Company started in St. Michaels, focusing on Lyon rum. An instant hit with the Chesapeake Bay boating crowd. It was Maryland’s second licensed distillery in half a century. They’ve branched out into flavored rums.
Lyon shares its distillery with Gray Wolf Sprit, which distills vodka, gin and rye. They both sell from the same storefront so you get a wide selection.
Lyon Distillery is in historic St. Michaels, Maryland. You can easily spend the weekend here. Just off Miles River, it’s a boating hub with festivals throughout the summer. The downtown features several blocks of unique boutique shopping. Restaurants range from $$$$ to the marina burger-bar. Just outside St. Michaels is the massive Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum featuring historic boats, boat building and bay culture exhibits as well as an actual Chesapeake Bay lighthouse. And, the road cycling is easy, flat and gorgeous.
#3 – Gray Wolf Spirits
605 S. Talbot St. #6, St. Michaels, MD 21663
- Gray Wolf Rye Whiskey
- Lone Vodka
- Timber Gin
- Lobo Agave Spirit (U.S.-made tequila)
Gray Wolf craft distilling began in St. Michaels in 2016 and focuses on vodka, gin and rye. They share space with Windon Distilling, home of Lyon Rum.
Their namesake spirit is rye whiskey handcrafted from rye grain and a malted barley blend.
Lone Vodka is a neutral spirit, while Timber Gin goes beyond gin, infused with juniper, berries, lemon peels, orange peels, cardamom, peppercorn, rose hips, hibiscus and elderflower.
Then, there’s Lobo Agave Spirit. Like the name “Champaign” is supposed to be reserved for the region in France, Tequila is from a region in Mexico. So, the Maryland version is an “agave spirit.” Lobo is the first agave spirit distilled in Maryland.
301 E Cromwell St, Baltimore, MD 21230
Tours: Must be arranged in advance (Wed.-Sun. only) – email@example.com
- Sagamore Spirit Rye
- Assorted limited & specialty whiskeys
Sagamore Spirit Distillery in Baltimore opened in 2017 and became a regional powerhouse. It’s one of few distilleries with tours (as of summer 2021), Wednesday through Sunday. Each 30-minute tour and guided tasting informs about Maryland-style ryes and Sagamore’s three core rye whiskeys.
The distillery is at an old boatyard, called Port Covington. You begin the tour at the Visitor Center. It also has a gift shop, whiskey/cocktail bar with inside and outdoor, water-view seating.
Whelp, the distillery is all there is right now. But it’s an impressive visit. There are several different types of tastings offered. Throughout the summer and into the fall, Sagamore is featuring live music on their waterfront lawn, with food truck(s) and other activity areas on the side. A road trip to Sagamore can fill an afternoon or evening. And, more is being built in the former industrial area. It’ll be a happening area in a few years.
#5 – B.A.D Alfred’s Distilling
323 High Street, Chestertown, MD
- B.A.D. Al’s Rye Whiskey
- B.A.D Alfred’s Bourbon Whiskey
- Apple Girl Shine
- Grappa, Vodka & Gin
BAD Alfred’s Distilling, called ‘Bad Al’s’ by the locals, is a micro distillery in historic downtown Chestertown just off the town square. Former wine-makers, Al & Jennifer Cassinelli , decided to focus on brewing and distilling making unique blends.
They’ve been distilling Girl Shine since the mid-2000’s, using left over grape juice and apples grown on their Church Hill vineyard. Their first batches of whiskey in 2017 originated from their remaining wine. They’ve run out of wine and now make their whiskey, vodka, gin and grappa from scratch. The whiskey being bottled now is three years in the barrel. The rye has a bourbon sweetness followed by rye spice.
BAD Al’s has two side-by-side, connected store fronts. One side is the distillery while the other side contains the pizza oven and kitchen. Ironically, the locally popular free-form pizza was a side-hustle required by the city to get the distillery downtown, but food and drinks go back-and-forth. Bad Al’s also brews their own beer.
Tours are offered on Saturday afternoon. You’ll see the distilling process, but the barrels are stored at the farm (the former winery).
BAD Al’s is in Chestertown, one of our favorite historic Chesapeake Bay towns. It’s on the beautiful Chester River and is full of historic homes, including original Colonial mansions. Downtown is full of boutiques and high-end art studios (it’s a college town).
Chestertown is known for its festivals that start in the Spring with the colonial Chestertown Tea Party (‘Boston Tea Party’ style) and end in the Fall with Downrigging Weekend, the last hurrah before historic wooden ships from all over the Chesapeake sail home for the winter. And Chestertown’s big farmers market on the town square is nearly every Saturday, year-round.