The long history of Maryland Rye began with the Civil War. From 1861 to 1865, the Civil War brought thousands and thousands of outsiders to Maryland, who, upon war’s end, returned to other parts of the country, preferring the Maryland Rye they enjoyed during their stay. Pioneering Maryland businessmen worked to satiate this thirst for Maryland Rye with the help of improved railway infrastructure and the rise of coast-to-coast brand marketing.
L. Winand& Brothers Distillery was founded in the town of Scott’s Level, Maryland, just Northwest of Baltimore, where they began producing Pikesville Rye in 1895, named after the adjacent town. Historians speculate L. Winand& Brothers named their product Pikesville because “Scott’s Level” would have sounded too much like Scotch.
The passage of the 18th Amendment, which enacted Prohibition, forced the L. Winand& Brothers Distillery to close. Following repeal, businessman Andrew Merle acquired the Pikesville brand in 1936 and contracted Monumental Distillery, owned by Standard Distillers in Baltimore for distillation of the brand.
A collapsing smokestack accident in 1946 at Monumental caused a change of hands and the renaming to Majestic Distilling Corporation. With sales of Maryland Rye dwindling, Majestic ceased distillation in
Baltimore in 1972, marking the end of Maryland Rye production and securing Pikesville’s place in history as the last-standing Maryland Rye brand. Even with the distillery in Baltimore closed, the brand survived on existing whiskey stocks until 1982 when it was sold to Heaven Hill. Since then, it has been produced in Kentucky and is now produced at the historic Bernheim Distillery.
Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey refuses to be forgotten. First produced in Maryland in the 1890s, the brand, along with the rest of the once-booming Maryland Rye industry, was shuttered by prohibition. The brand reemerged after prohibition and became the last standing Maryland Rye, as the rest of the industry's production had ceased. Now produced in Kentucky from extra-aged barrels stored in prime warehouse locations, Heaven Hill keeps this historic Maryland mark alive with this award-winning six year old, 110 proof offering.