TIPSY TOURIST: Sloop Betty and friends

Vodka is the main attraction of Blackwater Distillery in Kent Island on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Vodka is the main attraction of Blackwater Distillery in Kent Island on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Welcome to the still, the big copper pot where everyday ingredients become elixirs we love.

Welcome to the still, the big copper pot where everyday ingredients become elixirs we love.That’s Andy Keller, distiller, leading the tour. 

Going to a distillery is different from visiting a winery or a brewery. The magic in beer and wine happens in the dark, in vats and barrels.

Not so at a distillery. It’s the big copper pot, curvaceous and mysterious, where the action happens.

There is such a magic place on Kent Island, at Blackwater Distillery. If you ever saw Sloop Betty vodka behind a well-stocked bar,  you’d remember her. She’s reminiscent of the  pin-up girl that graced World War II planes — all leg and curves. But not in a copper still kind of way. Her image pays homage to the distillery’s  founders’ father, a World War II vet.

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Don’t want a bottle of vodka? How about a t-shirt with the provocative image of Sloop Betty.

Blackwater’s Betty graces the bottle of their vodka and their honey vodka. There aren’t any pretty girls on the rum bottles. Ah, but there’s a story. These are dubbed Picaroon, a reminder of the old days when the colonists of Maryland and Virginia fought over who ruled Kent Island and during Prohibition when Maryland was named the “wettest” state. (It’s all explained on the distillery’s website — fun reading.)

The stories are fun. The drinking’s fun too. After a quick tour of the Kent Island facility, stop by their gorgeous bar for a tasting of their wares. Not a drinker? They have non-alcoholic quaffs you’ll like too.

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One of Blackwater’s newest creations. Not a vodka or a whiskey exactly, Geist’s ingredients include beer and you’ll know it once you taste it.

One good reason for visiting distilleries (and wineries and breweries) is the extra stuff they have there that you’ll never seen anywhere else. At Blackwater, they had an interesting beer-related whiskey-like Geist. They call it “spirit distilled from grain with hops.” Even though there wasn’t enough to taste, I took a bottle home. Not whiskey exactly, but it reminded me of whiskey with a malty after-taste. Unusual but nice.

Tours are offered every afternoon of the week.

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A pretty awesome bar is set up among the barrels, boxes and the still.

ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman

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4 responses to “TIPSY TOURIST: Sloop Betty and friends

  1. Pingback: Shopping and history on Kent Island | A Day Away Travel·

  2. Great article Mary! It was a pleasure meeting you when you visited Kent Narrows! Thanks, Gigi

    Gigi Windley 302-242-9283 Sent from my iPhone

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