Sunken scotch has captured the imagination—and pursestrings—of whisky enthusiasts for generations. It’s the term used to refer to liquid that’s unintentionally aged at the bottom of the sea after a shipwreck. Now American whiskey is poised for the same treatment. Call it, “banished bourbon.”
The story starts on an ill-fated evening in December of 1854. A passenger steamer called The Westmoreland foundered 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, which included 280 barrels worth of whiskey.
This precious cargo was largely forgotten by history until 2010, when shipwreck diver Ross Richardson discovered the Westmoreland wreckage 200 feet below the surface of Platte Bay, Michigan. According to his team, the cold and calm conditions of the water here have worked wonders in preserving the submerged vessel. In fact, he estimates it to be among the best-preserved wrecks of the 19th Century.