341 – Bringing Rye Back To Baltimore with Brian Treacy and Ryan Norwood of Sagamore Spirit

Rye whiskey production had a historic past in the northeastern states, especially Pennsylvania and Maryland. And now Sagamore Spirit based in Baltimore is bringing rye whiskey back. Ryan and I traveled to record this interview with their CEO, Brian Tracey, and their Director of Operations, Ryan Norwood. We uncover Brian’s unique past of how a phone call with Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, would take him from running a backpacking and kayaking company in Flagstaff Arizona to building a new distillery from the ground up. One of Brian’s tasks was to find a distiller and that led to a few conversations with Ryan Norwood, a young guy who was really into yeast and beers. Sagamore had a longstanding relationship with MGP but now they have their own Maryland rye distillate and we talk about how they shaped and revitalized the Maryland rye category.

Show Notes:

  • Brian talk about how you go from ski bum to whiskey CEO?
  • How did you cross paths with Under Armour CEO, Kevin Plank, and him ask you to become CEO?
  • What did you know about the distilling business before starting?
  • What did Kevin like about the distilling business?
  • What was the initial vision?
  • After you were convinced to start, who was the first call you made?
  • When did Ryan Norwood come into the picture for distilling?
  • Walk us through the differences be between brewing and distilling.
  • What was is like working with Larry Ebersold to develop your Maryland style rye?
  • Why do distilleries go with 95/5 rye?
  • What was the process of figuring out how to scale and go beyond a 500 gallon pot still?
  • Why only distill rye whiskey when bourbon is so popular?
  • What does it mean to you when articles begin coming out without any affiliation to Under Armour?
  • As a CEO, what are you trying to empower your people with?
  • What was it about going down the path of finished whiskeys?
  • Do you have any horror stories from working with barrel brokers on used barrels?
  • Here’s how we all came together to collaborate on Pursuit United Rye.
  • @sagamorespirit @sagamorewhiskeybrian @smilesdavisjr
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