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Mt. Vernon Ghostwalk/MHS Rye Tour

Updated: Tuesday, October 29 2013, 04:43 PM EDT

A couple of fun events in the past week-- last Wednesday evening I joined a group of 25 or so for a ghostwalk tour of the Mount Vernon neighborhood. We gathered upstairs at the Mount Vernon Club, overlooking the park, for an hour of cocktails, then donned our coats and jackets for a fun, informative hour-long tour, conducted by Baltimore Ghost Tours. Stops included the Garrett-Jacobs mansion and the Belvedere Hotel. The pleasant autumn evening was a perfect backdrop for the thrilling tales of ghosts, restless spirits, unsolved crimes and other local lore. Fellow travelers on the walk included Pam Malester and Jim Burger. Then it was back to the club for a full dinner and more cocktails and merriment with the tour-takers.

Then, earlier this week, I joined a few fellow rye whiskey aficionados-- including Mike Fishman (owner of Quarry Wine & Spirits), Fred Rasmussen (writer for The Sun), Brian Kelly (Sagamore Farm) and photographer Jim Burger-- for a private showing of old Maryland Rye bottles from the society's collection. First though, we paused in the second-floor gallery to examine the installation of Lady Baltimore, the 8-foot-tall marble stature that was recently removed from atop the Battle Monument after almost 200 years. Museum director Burt Kummerow explained how a new copy of the statue has been cast from concrete and marble and placed on the monument. Then it was on to the rye! The eight bottles had been pulled from the stacks and arrayed in a room off the library for our viewing. On hand from the MdHS to guide our experience was chief steward Louise Brownell and marketing director Laura Rodini. Of course, the vintage bottle of Pikeville Rye was immediately recognizable, but the others were all brands that have faded from memory: Old Pimlico, BPR, and others. After our tour, we adjourned to the Lobby Bar at the Lord Baltimore hotel for a rye tasting and tour of the hotel with general manager Gene-Michael Addis, who pointed out the thorough top-to-bottom renovation now being carried out. All newly redone guest rooms, renovated lobby, ballroom, restaurants-- it'll be completed by the spring. The Rubell Hotel group (they also own the Albion in Miami and the Capitol Skyline Hotel in D.C.) are doing a complete renovation to bring back the lustre to this once-faded gem of a grand old hotel. Owner Mera Rubell is especially excited about using artwork from her collection as well as local artists, in the decor of the hotel. We'll be eagerly anticipating the unveiling of the completed renovations next spring.

(Shown above: Vintage rye whiskey bottles from the Maryland Historical Society's collections.)

Mt. Vernon Ghostwalk/MHS Rye Tour

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