Max Lents, a manager at Joe Squared, had long been working on plans to open his own bar. Then, he says, he grew increasingly passionate about distilling and, with a business partner, Ian Newton, he now plans to open a distillery, the Baltimore Whiskey Company, in the location currently called the Broom Factory (or the Broom Factory Factory) in Remington.
The location was formerly a DIY venue and currently houses a recording studio as well as serving as home to several tenants, including some who are affiliated with City Paper.
The building's landlord, Douglas Carroll, confirmed that he was in discussions with Lents, but said the operation was "still at the early stages of trying to get financing."
Lents says that they have yet to sign a lease with Carroll. "Our financing will hopefully be resolved in the next couple weeks," he said over the phone, but noted that things are under way. "A still is being commissioned in Washington state. A head distiller is going to move into town. So the project is not nothing."
Lents, who graduated from Goucher in 2008, says that he and Newton chose the name Baltimore Whiskey Company in a nod to the Baltimore Water Company, the first waterworks in the country.
He says the company "will bring rye back to Maryland," but adds that they will not try to recreate traditional Maryland rye.
"Traditionally it would be heavy on corn and as close to bourbon as it can be," Lents says, adding that theirs will go heavier on the rye. "We will be very involved in the rye grain and different ways it can be used."
Baltimore Whiskey Company will not likely release retail "white whiskey"—the unaged whiskey, sometimes called moonshine, that newer distilleries often sell until their aged products are ready—because they are not enthusiastic about the quality. But, Lents says, "We will sell it at the distillery because we have a license to sell it from the distillery."
While the distilling license would allow for limited sales, the Baltimore Whiskey Company does not yet have TTB certification, the chemistry certification required of distillers. "We cannot become TTB certified until we are built out and inspected," Lents clarified in an email.