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Md. Distillery Aging Rum On Navy Ship, Just Like The Old Days

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A small Maryland company has a big idea: Use local ingredients and a traditional method of manufacturing so that its product is the only one of its kind in the world.

Mike Schuh picks up the story from the U.S.S. Constellation in the Inner Harbor.

As it turns out, sailors used to be partially paid with cups of rum.

The Constellation itself, up until rum rations were banned in 1862, sailed with rum rocking in the hold.

Now, for the first time in 154 years, rum is being loaded onto the boat again in used bourbon barrels, for flavor.

It's all part of a partnership between Tobacco Barn Distillery in St. Mary's County, the Maryland Distillers Guild and Domino Sugar and Historic Ships in Baltimore.

In true 1850s style, the distillery staff loaded the barrels Thursday morning using old fashioned ropes, pulleys, wooden blocks and winches.

"It's pretty when we can actually do this the way they did back in the 19th century using, you know, traditional block and tackle," says Chris Rowsom, Executive Director of Historic Ships.

It was a difficult task performed in cold weather Thursday morning, but those involved say it's worth it.

The rocking of the ship will help age the booze in a unique way, while visitors to The Constellation can see it and hear the story of how molasses from the Domino sugar plant across the harbor is being turned into one-of-a-kind rum by a local distillery.

Scott Sanders, of the Tobacco Barn Distillery, said nobody has ever aged rum this way before.

Six months from now, it will be hoisted off, taken back to the distillery and bottled. There will be a party aboard The Constellation where everyone will find out how well the experiment turned out.

Their rum now sells for $38 per bottle, but the hooch aged on The Constellation will cost about $5 more, the extra going into the ship's treasury.

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