When someone says “single malt” in conversation at the bar, the vast majority of people tend to think of single malt Scotch whiskey made on a romantic craggy landscape in Scotland. But there’s a groundswell of new American-made single malt whiskeys showing up on shelves, and thanks to the passion of local distillers—at press time there were five making some sort of single malt—Washington state is starting to make a name for itself with this spirit.
But what does the term “single malt whiskey” actually mean? It’s a spirit made using a malted grain—almost always barley, different than bourbon’s usual corn base—made at a single distillery. If a label reads “single malt Scotch,” it has to be made in Scotland (as all Scotch does), follow the two aforementioned rules and be made in a pot still (which is often copper). American single malt whiskeys aren’t as regulated. This can lead to a wide range of flavors, with the smell and taste being affected by the type of malted grain and yeast distilled, as well as a number of other variables, from the water used to the equipment to the weather outside to the aging process and more. The devotion to those details and capturing our sense of place sets our local distillers—and their liquors—apart.
Golden Distillery, [now Old Line Spirits from Baltimore] is the longest-tenured single malt, this whiskey already has won a gold medal at the American Distilling Institute’s 2012 Judging of Craft American Spirits. It has a nice malty nose and a well-balanced taste of maple, apple, honey and oak, with a smooth toffee and brown sugar finish.
Note: This is an excerpt from the March 2014 Seattle Magazine article, Washington State Distillers Embrace American Single Malt Whiskey
Old Line Spirits, Baltimore’s newest distillery, will begin production later this summer of its flagship product, Old Line American Single Malt Whiskey, said founders Mark McLaughlin and Arch Watkins. The distillery’s permanent home will be in the city and its location will be announced shortly.
Baltimore residents, McLaughlin and Watkins acquired award-winning Golden Distillery in Washington State in April, and have moved the equipment and barreled whiskey to the city. The rebranded product will be available this summer under its new name: Old Line American Single Malt Whiskey.
The single malt whiskey is made from 100% American malted barley distilled in a traditional copper pot still, then aged for two years in new, charred white oak barrels. McLaughlin and Watkins will continue to utilize the same award winning recipe and process in Baltimore.
Long-time whiskey enthusiasts, McLaughlin and Watkins have been working towards joining the Baltimore spirits market for over a year. They viewed the opportunity to acquire Golden as a way to enter the market with an excellent product in a new and innovative category. “The Mid-Atlantic has a number of great bourbon and rye distilleries. We see our version of American single malt whiskey as something different and exciting,” said Watkins.
“We want Old Line’s spirits to be a product that Marylanders can be proud of,” said McLaughlin. “We’ve been very appreciative of the enthusiastic welcome that we’ve received from the City as well as other Baltimore business owners. We’re eager to open our doors later this summer.”
Two former Navy guys jumped ship from their careers in banking and engineering to pursue a passion for whiskey and open one of Baltimore’s first distilleries.
Mark McLaughlin and Arch Watkins, neighbors in Butchers Hill and friends from their time in the Navy Reserve, will soon begin producing American single malt whiskey in Baltimore at their forthcoming distillery, Old Line Spirits.
Their path to owning a distillery was an uncommon one. Most distillers in Baltimore start from scratch, but McLaughlin and Watkins bought an existing distillery on the West Coast that they’re rebranding and relocating to Baltimore. Both McLaughlin and Watkins served in the Navy. McLaughlin later pursued a career in investment banking; Watkins took an engineering job with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Both liked the idea of owning their own business, and both had an interest in distilling as they saw the market taking off in Maryland.
About a year ago McLaughlin quit his banking job in pursuit of owning his own distillery. Watkins joined McLaughlin in October and came on board full-time in January. “I had this technical skills set, he had the financial background,” Watkins said. “It just seemed like a natural fit for me.” One of the first things McLaughlin did was attend the American Distilling Institute conference in Seattle, where he met one of the owners of Golden Distillery in Washington, who was looking to sell his distillery and retire. “It just was serendipity really,” McLaughlin said. The partners ended up buying Golden Distillery and closed the deal about a month ago. McLaughlin declined to disclose the purchase price.
The biggest perk of acquiring that distillery was acquiring the product that came with it. The partners have about two years worth of supply produced by Golden Distillery that will be rebranded under the Old Line brand. “It’s a known factor; we have product that we know is great,” McLaughlin said. “We don’t have to make something now and wait two years to see if it’s good.” McLaughlin and Watkins are still negotiating their lease, so they declined to disclose the prospective location of the distillery. They expect to have the lease finalized within the next 30 days.
Once that’s settled, they plan to begin distilling their own whiskey — made with the same ingredients and in the same process Golden Distillery used — later this summer.
McLaughlin said they expect to produce about 1,000 cases in their first year. They plan to add new equipment in their first year, after which they will have the capacity to produce up to 12,000 cases annually. The partners said they will start by focusing on whiskey production, but they’re open to making other spirits, too. Old Line Spirits joins Louthan Distilling, the city’s first distillery, but they won’t be alone for long. Under Armour Inc. CEO Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Spirits is also getting closer to breaking ground on his distillery.
Baltimore Business Journal—June 2015
A new Baltimore-based distillery plans to start producing whiskey in the city this summer, joining a growing number of micro-distilleries in the state. Old Line Spirits, founded by Baltimore residents Mark McLaughlin and Arch Watkins, will start production of a flagship product, Old Line American Single Malt Whiskey, the owners said. They have not announced a permanent location for Old Line.
Craft distilling has begun gaining a foothold in the state. In February 11 businesses that produce spirits formed the Maryland Distillers Guild. McLaughlin and Watkins started Old Line after acquiring Golden Distillery in Washington state in April and moving the equipment and barreled whiskey to Baltimore. The single malt whiskey, which will be rebranded under the Old Line name and available this summer, is made from American malted barley distilled in a copper pot still and aged for two years in charred white oak barrels.
Describing themselves as long-time whiskey enthusiasts, McLaughlin and Watkins said they have been working toward joining the Baltimore spirits market for more than a year. “The mid-Atlantic has a number of great bourbon and rye distilleries,” Watkins said in an announcement. “We see our version of American single malt whiskey as something different and exciting.”
Baltimore Sun—June 2, 2015