A Maryland law that went in effect July 1 has opened up new opportunities for local distilleries, including two in Carroll County.
Earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law that allows distilleries to sell cocktails. Previously they could only give out a maximum of four half-ounce samples.
MISCellaneous Distillery, which started up in Mount Airy in 2016, opened its doors for rolling tours between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on a recent Tuesday to offer an inside look to the process of their spirits. The distillery offers a limited number of spots for regular tours.
Along with the usual half-ounce samples of their spirits, the distillery also offered cocktails to tour participants. Tourists were able to ask questions and taste some of their rye whiskey, gin and vodka.
Married couple Margaret and Dan McNeill co-founded MISCellaneous in 2016. They started with a white rum and have released nine additional products since then.
“It’s been an exciting couple of years,” Margaret said.
Over in Sykesville, Patapsco Distilling Company also has plans to start selling cocktails — specifically in a new speakeasy above the distillery.
“When we first opened up, we did not have occupancy on the second floor," said Scott Jendrek, owner of Patapsco. "So, we now have occupancy on the second floor and currently we use it as an event space, but we’re going to be changing that shortly because distilleries in Maryland just gained the ability to sell full-sized cocktails.”
Jendrek opened Patapsco two years ago, on April 22, after a decades-long career in the biotech industry.
“After 30 years of biotech and Maryland, and if you haven’t been laid off in the biotech industry in Maryland, you haven’t been in the biotech industry long," he said. “So I wanted to do something that’s still used my science knowledge that I had acquired over the years, I guess, and something that I couldn’t fire myself from.”
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Patapsco is mainly known for its limoncello, blood orangecello and a nocino, which, according to Jendrek, they can’t keep in stock. The distillery’s top-selling spirits are Bigfoot Bourbon, named for the history of Bigfoot sightings in Sykesville, and Rockfish Rye, named after the state fish of Maryland.
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MISCellaneous started after Dan McNeill decided to leave behind the world of politics.
“I was working in politics for the past 10 years coming up until 2012,” he said. “And just was not feeling the same love out of the event side that I was writing.”
Attendees at the MISCellaneous tour were not only greeted with cocktail tastings and information, but also with attention from the distillery’s informal mascot. The couple recently adopted a Bernese mountain dog named Jaimee that has become sort of like a friendly cheerleader for the Mount Airy business.
The grains for their spirits are all locally grown within Carroll County, according to Dan McNeill, and they get their sugar from Domino Sugar in Baltimore’s harbor.
Some of their popular spirits are Popi’s Finest Rum — named for Dan’s great-grandfather and the winner of a double gold at this year’s World Spirits Competition in San Francisco — and Risky Rum, which earned a gold medal at the 2018 World Spirits Competition in San Francisco.
According to Margaret McNeill, the distillery makes about 1,000 bottles a month and self-distributes to about 125 spots in Maryland.
MISCellaneous Distillery is open on Fridays from 4 to 7 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 2 to 6 p.m. Patapsco’s distillery and tasting room are open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 5 p.m., Fridays from noon to 9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.