Baltimore City Paper, January 27, 2015
By Brennen Jensen
[…]The award for having the first Maryland-made rye on the market goes to Lyon Distilling, Blackwater’s Eastern Shore neighbor in St. Michaels. It opened the doors in a historic mill building and fired up a trio of 26-gallon pot stills in 2013. Rum is its signature product and it has a few varieties out, including a dark, barrel-aged version.
“Most of our business is on site because St. Michaels is a very popular destination,” says distiller and co-founder, Ben Lyon. “We’re a big sailing town and sailors like their rum. It’s really a community that a distiller fits into pretty well.”
His foray into rye began last spring when Lyon put its first rye into a variety of small-sized barrels designed to speed up the wood interaction. “On Dec. 6, the anniversary prohibition ended, we released a white rye to the public and were the first Maryland rye whiskey on the market in over 40 years,” Lyon says.
He hopes to release the first of his aged rye in a few months. Certainly, Wright might bristle at the white stuff being called Maryland rye “whiskey,” but the fed’s requirements to earn this designation say only that whiskey must be stored in oak containers. It just doesn’t say for how long. For a spirit to be deemed “straight whiskey,” it needs twos year in wood, but otherwise . . .
“Basically, you put it in a new barrel and then nearly immediately pour it,” Lyon says. “But I truly enjoy drinking white whiskey.”
“My ultimate vision is to see a Maryland Rye Trail like Kentucky now has with its bourbon trail,” he adds, referencing a co-marketing concept where promotional materials encourage tourists to visit multiple distilleries. “I’d love to see a number of people doing some great rye and reviving that Maryland history.”[…]