American Whiskey Rescued from 170-Year-Old Shipwreck Could Be Worth It

Whiskey enthusiasts’ imaginations — and wallets — have been captivated by drowned scotch for generations. It is the term used to refer to a liquid that has aged unintentionally at the bottom of the sea after a shipwreck. Now American whiskey is about to get the same treatment. It called banishment bourbon.

The story begins on a rude evening in December 1854. A passenger steamer is called The Westmoreland established in the frigid waters of northern Lake Michigan. In addition to the 17 lives lost that night were the contents of the ship’s hull, including 280 barrels worth of whiskey.

This precious cargo was largely forgotten by history until 2010, when wreck diver Ross Richardson discovered the Westmoreland a wreck 200 feet below the surface of Platte Bay, Michigan. According to his team, the cold and calm conditions of the water here worked to preserve the sunken vessel. In fact, he considers it to be one of the best preserved wrecks of the 19th Century.

Which brings us to the booze bounty still guards to this day. There is no guarantee how much of the liquid is left, or what quality it is, given that it is in wood rather than glass. But the price of what is left would be quite strong regardless. One bottle of scotch was rescued from the Politician SS fetched £12,925 off the coast of Scotland at auction in 2021. At best, this 280-barrel hoard could fetch up to 56,000 bottles. If each were to be valued equally with their Scottish counterpart—great two-which would equal over $871 million USD in liquid gold!

And it’s not just collectors who are clamoring for taste. As first reported by The mirror, earlier this month, Richardson says a regional distillery wants to save the juice — for scientific research. “The genetic makeup of corn was very different in 1854 and may have had a different taste to today’s corn,” he told the newspaper.

Traverse City Whiskey Co. the most likely candidate for this type of project. One of the largest craft distilleries in Michigan, it is located a mile from the shipwreck site.

Whoever wants to get their hands on this fence will have to sit tight a little longer. Permits are required to remove any artifacts from the Great Lakes. And even Richardson admits that the process of getting one can be very difficult—a few years, not just months. But we’ve been waiting 170 years to finally taste this whiskey, what’s a few more? Until then, if you are Seriously you fancy sipping a debonair bourbon, you can try wading up to the shores of Platte Bay with a very long straw.

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