BALTIMORE (WJZ) — This week marks the 100th anniversary of Prohibition.

Maryland took a different stance when the government banned alcohol, and today, distilleries all around the state are thriving.

It was the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, something that didn’t fly with folks in Maryland.

“Marylanders thought that infringed on their rights,” said Matthew Scales with Visit Maryland.

Their solution? Become the only state not to enforce it, opening the door for speakeasies and backwood distilleries along the Chesapeake.

One of the most popular things to make was rye whiskey.

“Rye was a big crop that was in central and western Maryland, it was a plentiful crop,” Scales said.

Fast forward 100 years, Prohibition is a thing of the past, and small local distilleries are starting to bring back the tradition of Maryland rye whiskey.

“So rye is known for being a little spicier than bourbon,” said co-founder of Baltimore Spirits Company Eli Breitburg-Smith. “The fact that we were in Maryland, it made a lot of sense for us to use rye grain. It does have a really unique flavor to it as well.”

Now, in their fifth year, their award-winning rye whiskey can be found at select locations around Maryland.

“We want to get our name out there, we want our whiskey to be all over the country and world if we can,” Breitburg-Smith said.

And in doing so, they’re carrying on a tradition that not only survived Prohibition but has earned Maryland the title of one of the birthplaces of American whiskey.

Now, it’s not just distilleries that are thriving in this state, Maryland breweries and wineries are also making quite the name for themselves.

Sean Streicher


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