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Maryland's oldest craft distillery


Reviving Maryland's distinguished distilling tradition

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Maryland's oldest craft distillery


Reviving Maryland's distinguished distilling tradition

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 Richie 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.

Sloop Betty Handcrafted Vodka

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 from Maryland's Eastern Shore with Sloop Betty to create a sippable vodka that can be enjoyed on the rocks or used to sweeten cocktails.

Picaroon Maryland Rum

Picaroon means simply one thing: rogue. With Picaroon Maryland Rum, we went a totally different direction from the more common blackstrap molasses-based rums. Rather than molasses, Picaroon begins 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 a sippable white and gold rum with notes of tropical fruit, cream, and vanilla, and a sweet, lingering finish.

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Tour the Distillery


See firsthand the science and art of fermentation, distillation, proofing, barrel aging, and bottling, and taste our award-winning products

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Tour the Distillery


See firsthand the science and art of fermentation, distillation, proofing, barrel aging, and bottling, and taste our award-winning products

Come see how Sloop Betty vodka, Sloop Betty Honey, and Picaroon Maryland Rum are made! Located on Kent Island just after the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Blackwater Distilling is the perfect jump-off point for a diversion on your way to your destination on the shore. You'll learn about the science and art of fermentation, distillation, and barrel aging (of our rum and upcoming whiskey), and you'll get to taste the full range of Blackwater Distilling products. You'll also learn about infusing fruits, herbs, and spices into our vodka and rum to make your own naturally flavored spirits! We've even got mason jars, ingredients, and recipes! Tours are $5 and include a Blackwater Distilling shot glass to use for your tasting and to take home with you!

Reserve your tour

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The Team


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The Team


Chris Cook

Founder,
CEO

Chris wants to live in a world where spirits and cocktails distilled and crafted in Maryland harken back to a time before prohibition; where choices were plenty and uniformity was frowned upon—and dogs were welcome at work.

Chris brings twenty years of project and people management experience to the Blackwater team and a decade of expertise related to state and federal statutes ranging from excise tax to formula and label approvals. Active in local political circles, Chris spearheaded statewide legislation in 2012 with the help of local state representatives whose aim was to open the business doors for all Maryland distilleries to onsite tours, tastings, and sales.  

Responsible for overall business operations, Chris is committed to making Blackwater Distilling a destination location for all who cross the Bay Bridge.

 

Jon Blair

Production Manager

Jon Blair brings passion, precision, and over a decade of experience to Blackwater Distilling. Jon designs and manages the processes of our spirits from raw material to bottle and is the nose and tastebuds behind our award-winning products. When not obsessing over fermentation temperatures and optimal nutrient loads, you'll find Jon behind the bar at Rye in Fells Point or running events as treasurer of the Baltimore Bartenders Guild.

Jon Cook

Founder,
COO

The younger of the two founding brothers, Jon oversees production strategy and high-level operations at the distillery.

 

Andy Keller

Distiller, 
Marketing Director

Andy's passion for all things alcohol has taken him from the wineries of Napa Valley to the baijiu factories of China. Andy, who runs many of the day-to-day operations at the distillery and moonlights as marketing director, is an avid homebrewer, cocktail shaker, and, oddly enough, a Chinese translator. When he's not staring intently at the still, you'll find Andy cycling around the Eastern Shore or hiking in Shenandoah.