Summary: The first distillery in the city of Frederick, Maryland was opened by Mark T. Lambert across from the airport. The distillery’s location is minutes off of Interstate 70, in a quiet industrialized area with plenty of parking. Visitors will learn about the dragon and medieval theme of Dragon Distillery as well as the family’s ancestral, checkered past.
Dragon Distillery was founded by Mark T. Lambert who enjoyed playing Dungeons and Dragons. Thus the name “Dragon Distillery.” The whole dragon theme is connected to medieval times. The tasting room looks like a great hall in a small castle during the Middle Ages. The shades of gray-colored walls remind one of stonewalls. Throughout the room, suits of armor stand guard, colorfully attired in Christmas hats and red bow ties to celebrate the festive season. In a corner, a diorama shows a castle guard, guarding barrels of spirits.
Five stools set next to the tasting counter made of dark wood provide a warm feeling to the room. Different spirits’ products are displayed behind the counter, with a large circular mirror behind the bottles. The tasting room is a friendly environment for people to taste some of the Dragon Distillery portfolio. Adjacent to the tasting counter, a large window overlooks the distillery production area. The dragon theme ends, when the distillery tour begins.
The L-shaped production area is spaced out in several distinct areas. The first observation we had was the gleaming copper and stainless steel of the two pots and columns still. Making a left turn on the L-shape, there are several tanks. One is used for cooking the mash and others are used to ferment the mash. An instructional area is beyond the tanks. At the end of the production area, barrels age spirits. During the tour, Mark explains the distilling process.
Mark’s distillery journey had a start with his family. His grandfather and great-grandfather were both moonshiners. His grandfather was somewhat notorious. From the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, Mark’s great-grandfather, “Bad” Bill Tutt was a doctor, rogue, scoundrel, womanizer and most importantly a moonshiner. Mark’s great-grandfather was a legend in his time. The Tutt family is remembered on several of the distilled products with a bit of history on the back label.
With the family history piquing his curiosity, Mark’s distillery journey included visiting distilleries, taking distilling classes and volunteering at a distillery. Mark came to a point in his career where he assessed his life and job. He decided a change was needed and started Dragon Distillery. Mark said of his now full-time distiller job, “It’s fun.” Mark’s passion and enthusiasm for distilling is infectious. He offers hands-on distilling workshops to anyone who would like to learn the art of distilling.
We tasted several distilled spirits during our visit, including a couple of barrel tastings and bottled products. Our first barrel tasting was a Rye Whiskey made in collaboration with Flying Dog Brewery. The spirit was 125 proof (62.5% alcohol). The spirit had a dark gold color and was reminiscent of flowers and molasses with sweetness. At this proof there was some heat on the finish. The final product will have water added to it to cut the proof in the area of 90 proof. Fear of the Dragon was also a barrel strength spirit at 125 proof. The spirit was made from pumpkin beer. At the time of our tasting, it had spent five months in barrel. It was a gold color and was very smooth. The aroma and taste had notes of flowers, pumpkin and grain. There was heat on the aftertaste. Prior to bottling, the spirit will be cut to around 90 proof.
Several of the spirits we tasted had references to the Tutt’s family. There was some family history on the back label. Blackhawk Tutt’s Rum was 96 proof (48% alcohol). The light gold colored rum was aged in previously used bourbon barrels. It was very smooth, sweet with some molasses on the taste. There was a bit of heat on the finish. Blackhawk Tutt was the brother of Mark’s grandfather. He was a fan of the family moonshine and especially liked rum. Blackhawk was gunned down after his 21st birthday. Mark honors his uncle with a picture of Blackhawk Tutt on the front of the bottle.
Our next spirit was Fannie Tutt’s Lemon Meringue Moonshine. The light peach with pink hue colored spirit was 100 proof (50% alcohol). This tasted like a slice of lemon meringue pie, with lemon and a bit of vanilla. There was a bit of heat on the finish. It had an extremely long aftertaste. The spirit honors Fannie Tutt, married to “Bad” Bill Tutt. She was a loving mother and homemaker. One of her specialities was lemon meringue pie. Unfortunately, Fannie was gunned down by a female neighbor that “Bad” Bill was accused of seducing.
“Bad” Bill Tutt Moonshine honored Mark’s great-grandfather. The clear colored spirit was 100 proof (50% alcohol). It offered corn and barley on the aroma and taste. There was a bit of heat on the finish.
Although some spirits have names that honor family members, others have names that relate to the dragon and medieval theme. Long Bow Lemon was a clear colored citrus vodka. At 80 proof (40% alcohol) this vodka was very lemony. It is delicious by itself or added to ice tea. The Medieval Mint was a clear colored mint flavored vodka. It too was 80 proof. Mint and chocolate were on the aroma. The very smooth taste was minty and the aftertaste was mint with chocolate. Joust Gin was a clear colored 80 proof gin. Ten different botanicals were used to flavor the spirit. Juniper was predominant in the aroma and taste along with a bit of rosemary. The gin was reminiscent of a tropical rain forest.
Between the family history, that could be turned into a movie, and the dragon and medieval theme, dragon distillery is a must visit distillery in Frederick, Maryland. The experience is wonderful as are the distilled spirits.
Dragon Distillery, LLC
1341 Hughes Ford Rd
Frederick, Maryland 21701
GPS: N39º 24.967’ W77º 22.874’
Article written December 2016
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