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Ideas, INSPIRATION & Info

Honoring the Maryland Spirit

Innovative technologies bring three Maryland companies together

Sagamore Spirit had one goal when they began planning – to become the premier distiller of rye whiskey. However, entering a crowded whiskey market required not only a distinct product, but a distinct bottle. The vision for their new whiskey bottle came to life through collaboration with HighRock and Hub Labels, both headquartered in Maryland.

Sagamore Spirit - Bottle Front LabelTo begin the design process, a company out of Austin, Texas actually took pen to paper and designed a two-dimensional Sagamore Spirit Rye Whiskey bottle. When it came time to refine the design prior to manufacturing, Brian Treacy, president of Sagamore Spirit, contacted his friends at HighRock, who had helped visualize the distillery that now exists in the Port Covington area of Baltimore, Maryland. “Taking inspiration from the classic Walters Rye bottle, as well as our own three-diamond logo, HighRock’s 3D artists really helped us take the 2D vision for the bottle and bring it to life” said Treacy. By reviewing various proofs in 3D, Brian and the team at Sagamore Spirit were able to finalize the bottle design more quickly in order to determine what kind of label was required. The Sagamore Spirit bottles are created from super-flint (high quality) glass and the labels needed to match that quality.

Gallus Labelfire 340 Digital Hybrid pressHub Labels, a local label manufacturer with worldwide reach, started networking through the Brewers Association of Maryland, the Maryland Distillers Guild, the MD Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MD MEP) and other state/regional organizations to build more local connections. “We actually started a ‘Made in Maryland’ campaign to support and partner with businesses in our own backyard,” said Thomas Dahbura, president of Hub Labels. “Through this campaign and the connections made, we started a conversation with Sagamore about printing their labels right here in Maryland.” Hub Labels worked with Sagamore to test materials and processes, in an effort to discover the best outcome. This was a surprisingly complex label due to the registration requirements for whiskey labels. “The Sagamore Spirit Whiskey labels could not be created using a conventional press,” Dabhura explained. “A critical element of this project was being able to use our new Gallus Labelfire 340 Digital hybrid, developed by Heidelberg and Gallus.   The Labelfire allows us to run flexo and digital together. It’s the perfect solution for private branding and resulted in a completely unique label to complement the high quality of Sagamore products.”

The trio of companies have continued to work together after this initial engagement, with Hub Labels printing labels for limited-edition and seasonal releases. “We continue to try new techniques and types of barrels to create limited products,” said Treacy. “It’s a fun way to express our spirit.”

“Collaboration was the most important part of this endeavor,” said Len Sullivan, Vice President at HighRock. “Creative people working together to show off the capabilities offered by Maryland companies.”

Sagamore Distillery - Arial RenderingOpened in 2017, Sagamore Spirit Distillery encompasses five-acres along the Patapsco River, with a Visitor Center and processing center, as well as a 22,000 square foot distillery, complete with a mash cooker, fermenting tanks, a beer well, and a copper column still. Pure limestone water from Sagamore Farm, located in Baltimore County, is stored in the 120-foot water tower outside the distillery and used as a key ingredient for proofing their whiskey. Always mindful to “honor the spirit” of Maryland, their world-class waterfront distillery has become an immersive experience that highlights the history, technology and innovation required to produce such a distinctly unique product.