Editor’s Note: This ready to drink cocktail was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
Baltimore-based Sagamore Spirit partnered recently with cocktail mixer company CAnE Collective to create the Orange Crush Rye Whiskey Cocktail. This collaboration combines their Maryland-style rye with “orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, and natural orange flavor.” It is made with organic juices and naturally gluten free.
The result is a refreshing, summerlike canned cocktail reminiscent of orangesicles and perfect for enjoying on a warm night.
My first impression when tasting this cocktail was that it would appeal to someone who otherwise avoid rye cocktails. The rye flavor is still there, but it is sweeter and softer and doesn’t bang you over the head with the earthy, savory spice of some rye whiskeys. I’m sure the bright mix of citrus juices and flavors contributes to this. Even though I have not had Sagamore Spirit Rye straight up, I would suspect the Maryland-style whiskey itself is part of why the rye flavor is so approachable too.
What is Maryland-style rye? This has been something of a debate as distillers in Maryland and around the country have been trying to revive this regional rye to what it was pre-Prohibition. Unfortunately, not much is documented about how this whiskey was made back then. The general consensus, though, is that Maryland-style rye is sweeter and the rye spiciness is more subdued overall than rye produced elsewhere. This is due in part to the fact that Maryland-style rye includes more grains like corn and barley in the mashbill that sweeten the flavor and cut some of the spice.
Sagamore Spirits is very conscious in how they craft their rye whiskey. They make two batches: one mashbill that is 100% rye and one that is barely over half rye and the rest is corn. After creating these two batches they blend them together to get the right ratio of rye spice to sweet.
Sagamore Spirit’s Orange Crush Rye Whiskey Cocktail is 8% ABV and comes in a 12 oz can. It is typically sold as a four-pack for around $15. You can check on their website if there are any places that carry it near you. It is also available through various online retailers.
This cocktail is sweet, citrusy, and carbonated. The sweetness and low ABV take away any of the alcohol sharpness, but the flavor of rye whiskey is there. I agree with the description of the Maryland-style rye – the spice is not intense or overpowering, but enough to add a nice depth of flavor. It reminds me of a whiskey lover’s mimosa and I would definitely order it if I saw it at a brunch spot. CAnE Collective and Sagamore Spirit are on to something special here.