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Sagamore Spirit eyes Chicago for expansion

Sagamore Spirit is setting its sights west as it searches for new outlets to pour its rye whiskey.

The Baltimore distillery, owned by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, is working to partner with bars and restaurants in Chicago, and plans to target Texas later this summer, the Baltimore Business Journal first reported.

Sagamore Spirit President Brian Treacy said Sagamore Spirit has received requests to distribute its rye from outlets in a number of cities like Chicago, and the whiskey became available in Chicago last week. Treacy could not name specific restaurants where its rye was being served, but said Chicago was an attractive market for its booming foodie culture.

“Chicago just seemed like an absolute opportunity for us,” he said.

Most of the distillery’s distribution is concentrated on the East Coast, with availability from Florida to Massachusetts.

“We’ve had some success here in our backyard in Maryland and D.C., and this will always maintain our No. 1 focus and priority,” Treacy said.

As Sagamore Spirit has gained more attention nationally, he said more markets are asking for it.

Upon entering a new market like Chicago, Sagamore looks to get its whiskey on menus at bars and restaurants, where customers are more curious and open to trying new drinks than in liquor stores.

“This gets us our best opportunity to create brand awareness and get product in front of people,” Treacy said. “Walking into a liquor store, you’re overwhelmed.”

Sagamore Spirit is currently available at bars and retail stores as far west as Park City, Utah, and Las Vegas. But the middle of the country remains largely untouched by the brand. Treacy said the company is looking to Texas next, and plans to target large cities like Dallas beginning in August.

Sagamore Spirit began selling rye whiskey last May, and its Port Covington distillery opened in April at 301 E. Cromwell St.

Treacy said he’s been pleased with the brand’s expansion so far, noting sites like the Wynn Las Vegas as a place he did not expect Sagamore to serve its whiskey so soon.

“We jumped on it,” he said.

The distillery’s growth continues at home in Baltimore. A restaurant by Andrew Carmellini’s NoHo Hospitality Group, Rye Street Tavern, is expected to open there later this year.

smeehan@baltsun.com

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