Photo courtesy of Sagamore Spirit

During Thursday’s ribbon cutting for the new Sagamore Spirit distillery in Port Covington, speakers hammered home one big point: Mark Twain approved of whiskey.

Both Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger and Sagamore Spirit co-founder Bill McDermond mentioned the author’s famous quote, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”

They, along with the rest of the speakers, including Sagamore Spirit president Brian Treacy, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and Mayor Catherine Pugh, spoke excitedly about the potential benefits the new distillery offers the region.

The Sagamore Spirit team expects the distillery to draw about 100,000 visitors annually – a boon for the city and surrounding area. Ruppersberger noted it will employ about 50 people; over 700 people worked on the project during the design and construction process.

The distillery is a new step in the redevelopment of Port Covington, the 260-acre plot of South Baltimore land along the Patapsco River being developed by Sagamore Development, a firm owned by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank. The redevelopment project includes multiple pieces, including a new headquarters for Under Armour.

In an open letter published last fall, Plank discussed his commitment to improving Baltimore City and wrote that the Port Covington development would bring “billions of dollars in private investment and thousands of jobs to Baltimore at a time when this is needed most.”

During Thursday’s ribbon cutting, the speakers focused on similar aspirations. Ruppersberger said he hopes the distillery is a “catalyst” for growth, and McDermond said one of the goals of the distillery project involves changing the “narrative and national conversation around Baltimore.”

Sitting on five acres right on the river, Sagamore Spirit’s operations include three buildings: a distillery, a processing center where bottles are filled and a not-yet-open restaurant. Outside the distillery building, a 120-foot water tower holds spring water, brought in from Sagamore Farm in Reisterstown for use during the distillation and bottling process.

The buildings, which were designed by architects from Baltimore’s own Ayers Saint Gross, are visually striking and include large windows that offer glimpses of the machinery inside.

Photo courtesy of Sagamore Spirit

The distillery building is “where the magic happens,” according to one tour guide. The 22,000-square-foot structure houses a 40-foot column still made of shiny copper, the only still of its kind in the world, according to the company.

The Sagamore team uses corn, malted barley and rye to make the triple-distilled whiskey. It’s then stored in barrels for four years inside three barns located in Baltimore County before it returns to the Port Covington campus for final touches and bottling.

The triple-distilling process is demonstrated in three glass-front boxes built on the second floor of the distillery, next to the 40-foot copper column still.

From today through Sunday, April 23, Sagamore Spirit will celebrate its opening with free tours offered on a first-come, first-serve basis from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ID’s are required and guests must be present to receive a tour ticket. Food trucks will be onsite, and there will be live music.

The distillery opens for general tours on Monday, April 24. The visitor’s center will be open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and tours, which will last about an hour and include a tasting (for those 21 and over), will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for general admission, $10 for current and former service members and $8 for guests under 21. Reservations can be made via the website or phone.

Sagamore Spirit is located at 301 E. Cromwell Street. More more info, call 410-624-7888 or visit

Kit Pollard

Kit Waskom Pollard is a Baltimore Fishbowl contributing writer. She writes Hot Plate every Friday in the Baltimore Fishbowl.