Hickory Hollow Farm in Finksburg is the latest Carroll County farm to be featured on Maryland Public Television’s television show “Maryland Farm & Harvest.”
The farm is featured on the final episode of the series’ sixth season, about locally produced spirits, which will be airing at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5. The segment featuring Hickory Hollow will delve into a Baltimore distiller’s commitment to producing traditional Maryland rye whiskey from local ingredients.
“Rye whiskey has a really long history in Maryland,” said the episode’s producer, Stefanie Robey. “Back before Prohibition, Maryland was actually one of the nation’s top producers of whiskey — after Kentucky and Pennsylvania. One of the most distinctly Maryland whiskeys was rye whiskey, because rye was kind of what was available to be distilled.”
Robey said shortly after Prohibition, the industry left the state, and the type of rye needed for its whiskey was no longer produced in large quantities, although other varieties are used as cover crops.
Only recently have distilleries popped up around Maryland, like Sagamore Spirit, hoping to bring back that heritage and partner with local farms to produce small batches of Maryland-grown rye whiskey, she said.
Hickory Hollow Farm, run by Chris Weaver and his father Richard Weaver, is one of three farms that produce rye for Sagamore Spirit, and has been partnered with them for a little over a year. Before last year, Sagamore’s rye came from out of state.
“So for Chris and for farmers like him, this kind of rye renaissance, it’s basically opening up a new potential market for rye,” Robey said. “[They just] need to be willing to experiment with different varieties of rye they haven’t been growing before.”
The episode will follow the rye from Hickory Hollow Farm and through the whiskey production process at Sagamore.
“Three years ago I started a project,” Chris Weaver said. “We planted this rye, this set of rye for distilling. We had no market, so Dad and I grew five acres; we combined it, harvested it and tried to go around and market it.”