Rooted in history
Maryland’s distilling roots run deep. Prior to Prohibition, Maryland proudly produced what was widely regarded to be the nation’s finest whiskey, a distinct style called Maryland Rye. During the 13 years of Prohibition, Maryland’s enterprising farmers continued to turn their plentiful harvests into high-proof “swamp lightning” in stills hidden among the coves, inlets, and marshes of the Chesapeake, and oystermen and crabbers smuggled the “good stuff” up and down the Bay, evading Federal Revenue agents and the Coast Guard and finding safe haven among the close-lipped communities that lined the tidewater.
But rarely did they face harassment from local authorities. Maryland, the only state never to enact a Prohibition enforcement law, was known as the “wettest state” during Prohibition. It was during this time that Maryland figures such as Governor Albert Ritchie and author and Baltimore Sunpapers columnist H.L. Mencken rose to national fame for their vehement opposition to what they viewed as an egregious overreach of Federal authority, and rumrunners like Pete “King James” Kelly rose to infamy.
At Blackwater Distilling, founded in 2008 and Maryland’s first fully-licensed beverage alcohol distillery since 1972, we celebrate this brash, enterprising, and fiercely independent spirit by crafting distinctive spirits that stand apart from the crowd, using organic and local ingredients when possible.
Our first product is Sloop Betty vodka, which blends spirits from organic wheat and sugar cane for a dangerously smooth and complex vodka. Sloop Betty has won three Gold Medals, including "Best Vodka in Show" at the 2012 New York World Wine & Spirits Competition, and a 94-point rating in The Tasting Panel Magazine. For Sloop Betty's counterpart, Sloop Betty Honey, we blend raw, unpasteurized honey sourced from an apiary north of Baltimore with Sloop Betty to create a sippable vodka that can be enjoyed on the rocks or used to sweeten cocktails.
Picaroon means simply one thing: rogue. With Picaroon Maryland Rum, we went a totally different direction from the more common blackstrap molasses-based rums. Picaroon begins instead with raw sugar from a single source in Brazil. We ferment at tropical temperatures using a yeast sourced from the Caribbean island of Martinique and distill to a high purity for sippable white and gold rums with notes of tropical fruit, cream, and vanilla, and a sweet, lingering finish.