Pikesville white-label rye whiskey has been discontinued

Three-year, 80-proof Pikesville Rye whiskey, the white-labeled "aristocrat of straight whiskeys" that has been a go-to cheap bottle for Baltimoreans for decades, has been discontinued.

Josh Hafer, a communications manager for Heaven Hill Brands, the privately held Kentucky-based distiller that has produced Pikesville since the '80s and counts popular brands Evan Williams and Rittenhouse in its portfolio, confirmed the news to City Paper.

But the Pikesville name is not going away altogether. Heaven Hill will continue to produce a six-year, 110-proof Pikesville Rye, which it introduced more than year ago. That bottle, however, is a bit more expensive than its three-year counterpart, at a price of about $40.

Production on the three-year version has already ceased. Hafer said there's still plenty finished product at the distributor Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits.

"They'll roll through those orders," said Hafer. "At some point in time they'll run out. But it's a reasonably large amount."

As orders for the six-year have gone up, numbers have declined for the three-year. The higher proof of the six-year makes it better for cocktails, Hafer says, and it gained a considerable amount of notoriety when noted whiskey writer Jim Murray ranked it the no. 2 whiskey in the world in the 2016 version of his annual Whisky Bible.

"Frankly, the popularity of one puts strains on the other," Hafer said.

On top of that, over the last decade, Heaven Hill only sold three-year Pikesville in Kentucky, Maryland, and parts of Delaware, whereas the six-year is available throughout most of the U.S.

According to Heaven Hill's site, Pikesville was first produced in Maryland in the 1890s and re-emerged in 1936, after Prohibition, to be one of the last standard bearers of Maryland-style rye whiskey. 

"We get to maintain the lineage of Pikesville with the six-year, 110-proof," Hafer said, "but unfortunately the white label goes away."

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