The first batch of Sagamore Spirit, Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank’s new straight rye whiskey, was released May 13, just in time to be the official rye of the Preakness Stakes.
At Plank’s Sagamore Farm — about 15 miles northwest of Baltimore’s Pimlico race track, home of the Preakness — Sagamore Spirit co-founder (with Plank) Bill McDermond hosted a launch party for the rye May 19. Restaurateurs and bartenders from D.C. and Baltimore drank rye and rye cocktails, tossed down bites from area eateries, smoked cigars, listened to a Nashville band and rode a mechanical bull. Plank’s remarks were on video; he was giving the commencement address at his alma mater, the University of Maryland.
The hugely successful athletic-wear entrepreneur bought Sagamore, former horse-breeding farm of Pimlico owner and president Albert G. Vanderbilt II, in 2007. About 100,000 attendees are expected at this year’s Preakness, on Saturday, May 21. The favorite, Nyquist, won the Kentucky Derby May 7.
A distillery for Sagamore Spirit, under construction in the Port Covington section of Baltimore, is expected to open to the public by early 2017, complete with tasting rooms. The rye, currently aged out of state, is cut to 83 proof with springwater that bubbles up through the limestone on Plank’s farm.
Two Georgetown liquor stores sell Plank’s Sagamore Spirit for $44.99 per 750-ml bottle.
“The guys like it,” said Steve Feldman of Potomac Wine & Spirits at 33rd and M Streets. “It’s kind of a sweet rye.”
Hop, Cask & Barrell — on Wisconsin Avenue near R Street — also had about six bottles left, pre-Preakness.