Maryland Rye Whiskey Distilleries and Merchants

Maryland Rye Whiskey distilleries and brands are difficult to list neatly and concisely. There are no working whiskey distilleries in Maryland, so all of these sites are "no longer there". But especially in the Baltimore area, even knowing where "there" is can be a difficult accomplishment. Some of the most famous of the old Maryland rye brands were marketed by companies whose only address was an office on or near E. Pratt Street in Baltimore. In some cases these merchants filled orders with product from distilleries with whom they contracted. In others, the "distillery" may have consisted of a mixing and blending room and a bottling machine. And even when whiskey was actually distilled at the site, the building itself was often of standard urban factory design. Several businesses may have used the site since, each wiping out all traces of whichever one came before.

In the descriptions below, the brands are shown in green and the distilleries or merchants are shown as links to the associated pages. Since there's no way to know how a reader will encounter our pages, please forgive some occasional repetitiveness. There are buttons at the bottom of the pages that will take you back to this menu or to the Main Menu.

  • Pikesville Maryland Rye, now called Pikesville Supreme, was the last whiskey commercially distilled in Maryland. It's been made in Kentucky for more than twenty years now, but we visited the Majestic Distillery, which was it's home for nearly fifty years. Majestic is not a "ghost"; it is still very active as a rectification and bottling center. The distillery was known as Monumental before 1943, and it had some an interesting stories of its own.
  • Mount Vernon Rye was produced at Baltimore's Hannis Distillery before prohibition. After repeal the brand became known worldwide as National Distilling Corporation's select Maryland Rye whiskey. National moved production to their distillery, which may have been the same Dundalk site as...
  • Baltimore Pure Rye was distilled in Dundalk by William E. Kricker up until 1957. After his death the distillery was purchased by the Seagram's Corporation, who had another plant just up the street that they'd acquired along with the Frankfort Distilleries Corporation collection of brands in the early '40s. They produced Paul Jones and Four Roses whiskey at both distilleries, along with Spring Garden, Montebello, and others. Seagrams' main distillery in Baltimore was the old Calvert facility in the neighborhood known as Relay. We will have more about that plant later.
  • Sherwood Pure Rye, produced in Cockeysville by the Wight Distillery and Hyatt & Clark before Prohibition, and by Louis Mann's Sherwood Distilling Corporation in Westminster afterward. The Cockeysville site is now the location of Procter & Gamble's Hunt Valley facility (Noxell). We visit the Westminster site, the only existing building of which is now an Italian restaurant, and eat dinner in the shadow of the SHERWOOD smokestack.
  • Also in Cockeysville, Frank L. Wight, of the original Sherwood-producing family, produced Sherbrook and Ryebrook whiskey after Prohibition ended. We visit the remains of the Cockeysville Distilling Company there.
  • The Melvale Distillery was located in the Jones Falls section of Baltimore, on Cold Spring Road. We found the site to be in use as a vinegar distillery today, with at least one of the original buildings intact. Melvale Pure Rye was one of the most premium of the pre-prohibition Maryland Ryes.
  • Braddock, produced in Cumberland (Lavale) by the James Clark Distilling Company. We visit the original location, identifiable only by street names that linger long after the last trace of the distillery has vanished... even from local memory.
  • Horsey Pure Rye and Golden Gate, produced in Burkittsville at Needwood Farms, by Outerbridge Horsey II. Needwood still exists in immaculate splendor, as do the carefully restored buildings in the village of Burkittsville. But there is no trace of the Horsey distillery to be found.
  • King's, was produced by the Luther G. King Distillery near Clarksburg. As late as 1906 it was a well-known landmark in Montgomery County. All that remains today are some small piles of brick and copper peeking out through thick forest growth, and a small marker erected by the regional hiking park within whose boundaries it once stood.
  • Melky Miller Rye Whiskey was produced at the M. J. Miller's Sons Distillery just outside the village of Accident, until Prohibition. The ruins of the abandoned distillery stood for decades until destroyed by fires in the 1970s and '90s. The Garrett County Historical Society has marked its location with a sign. 
  •  coming soon!
    Other Baltimore distillers and merchants that we will be exploring include the makers of
    Monticello, Calvert, Melrose, and Maryland Pure Rye.

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Story and original photography copyright 2006 by John Lipman. All rights reserved.