Maryland Leaders On Hand as Sagamore Spirit Distillery Breaks Ground in Port Covington

| October 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

On Wednesday, Sagamore Spirit held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new rye whiskey distillery at 301 E. Cromwell St. in Port Covington. This is the first new-construction project in Sagamore Development’s redevelopment of Port Covington and Westport, which includes more than 200 acres of land, including a future 3 million sq. ft. campus for Under Armour, acquired from 37 land acquisitions.

FullSizeRender 2The ceremony was MC’d by WBAL and Ravens Radio’s Gerry Sandusky and featured speeches from Governor Larry Hogan, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and Sagamore Spirit Co-Founders Bill McDermond and Kevin Plank, who is also the CEO of Under Armour and owner of Sagamore Development.

Also in attendance were Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, Maryland Secretary of Commerce Michael Gill, Maryland House Speaker Micheal Busch, Maryland Senate President Mike Miller, Baltimore City Council President Jack Young, District 11 Councilman Eric Costello, District 46 Senator Bill Ferguson, Mayoral Candidate and State Senator Catherine Pugh, Baltimore Development Corporation President William Cole, and many more.

Plank owns Sagamore Farm, a thoroughbred horse farm, which first opened in Glyndon in 1925 and features a natural spring that is filtered by limestone and used by the farm’s horses for water. Plank and McDermond discovered this water would also be perfect for distilling rye whiskey. In 2011, they began the process of launching Sagamore Spirit.

Sagamore Development is hoping to combine aspects of Sagamore Farm and the industrial history of Port Covington, as well as the feel of the Chesapeake Bay, in its plans for the five-acre Sagamore Spirit distillery. When researching the history of 301 E. Cromwell St., Sagamore and the design team from Ayers Saint Gross discovered that the site was coincidentally once home to another distillery before becoming the home to a depot for the Western Maryland railroad. The site was originally home to Fort Covington, which was used to defend Baltimore during the War of 1812.

Through extensive research Sagamore discovered that before World War II, Maryland produced more than 14 million gallons of rye whiskey annually and local brands attracted national acclaim. However, distilleries were repurposed as ethanol plants to support the war effort and cheaper Kentucky bourbons became commonplace.

The plan for Sagamore Spirit distillery includes four buildings that are designed to feel like a part of a waterfront park. This includes a 27,000 sq. ft. distillery building, a 22,000 sq. ft. processing building, a 10,000 sq. ft. restaurant, and a 2,000 sq. ft. support building, all of which will surround a green courtyard space. There will also be a 120-foot water tower which will hold water from the Sagamore Farm spring.

The design will include many elements from Sagamore Farm including red roofs and gray brick, modeled after the horse stables.

The plan also includes a waterfront promenade that could potentially be part of a much larger promenade, additional green landscaping, storm water collection areas, and two additional piers, which Sagamore is hoping to build five acres of additional park space on top of in the future.

FullSizeRenderSagamore Spirit is currently speaking with operators about the restaurant space, which will feature a 6,000 sq. ft. first floor with a dining area, kitchen, bar, and gallery, as well as a 4,000 sq. ft. second floor event space.

Sagamore Spirit expects to welcome more than 100,000 visitors annually at its retail and visitor center for daily tours and tastings.

Plank called Port Covington, which is highly visible from I-95, “Baltimore’s front porch” because of the 200,000 cars that pass by each day. “We are going to make this front porch as fine as any destination in the world,” he said.

McDermond said it’s time to give Baltimore the attention it deserves. “We want to build another great Baltimore brand. The distillery will bring energy to Port Covington and activate waterfront property in our great city,” he said.

“We are excited to bring the whiskey tradition back to Maryland,” said Brian Treacy, President of Sagamore Spirit. “We are proud to make spirits worthy of our state’s heritage. We are proud to bring high-quality whiskey production back to Maryland.”

“Sagamore Spirit and the entire Port Covington development project serves as an outstanding example of the economic development potential for Baltimore when companies invest in the city’s future,” said Governor Hogan. “Our administration is wholly focused on creating the right conditions to grow the private sector, get people back to work, and turn Maryland’s economy around. Sagamore, with their goal of reviving our state’s proud heritage in whiskey production, will be an important partner in those efforts.”

“I am excited to celebrate the groundbreaking of Sagamore Spirit’s distillery,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “Resurrecting the rye whiskey industry speaks to our city’s history while showcasing Baltimore’s bright future for new manufacturing investment and job creation. The distillery project, along with Kevin Plank’s significant investments throughout the city, continues to grow Baltimore as a major entrepreneurial hub.”

Sagamore Spirit will launch its first product next year, an 83-proof Maryland-style rye whiskey, a nod to I-83, the interstate that connects Sagamore Farm to Sagamore Spirit.

Distillery facts from Sagamore Spirit’s press release:

Distillery Building – The 22,000 square-foot distillery building will house an American-made column still and pot still. This building will handle the shipping and receiving of grains, new and used barrels, and house Sagamore Farm spring water. The 38-foot column still will be visible from the courtyard through an impressive two-story window.

Processing Center – The 27,000 square-foot processing center will house Sagamore Spirit’s state-of-the-art bottling line. 100 percent of Sagamore whiskey will be cut to proof with spring-fed water from Sagamore Farm.

Visitor Center – Sagamore Spirit prides itself on providing paramount hospitality to all guests. Monday through Saturday, visitors will be welcome to taste-test Sagamore spring-fed water, learn more about the history and heritage of Maryland rye whiskey, and shop local products including Baltimore-made spices, snacks, and handmade barware. Daily tours and tastings will begin and end at the Visitor Center.

Tasting Room (Indoor and Outdoor) – At the conclusion of each tour, guests will have the opportunity to taste Sagamore Rye. Tour guides will teach guests how use Sagamore spring-fed water to cut whiskey to proof and guests will learn how to pair chocolates and snacks with their favorite whiskey. The tasting rooms will pay homage to Maryland’s whiskey history and offer stunning views of the Patapsco River. Smaller, private events can also be held in these spaces.

Restaurant – The distillery campus will also house a two-story restaurant that will offer lunch and dinner, along with weekend brunch. The second floor of the restaurant will be a perfect Baltimore venue for premier weddings, corporate, and special events.

Water Tower – The 120-foot water tower, visible from I-95, will hold spring-fed water shipped from Sagamore Farm.

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Renderings via Ayers Saint Gross:

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About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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