• Cyrus Ronald L Gubelman

Maritime Bourbon from the Isle of Whidbey

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

Bourbon is America’s whiskey and, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be made in Kentucky. Today we are seeing a vast array of choices develop from bourbon brands all over the country. By definition, bourbon has to be at least 51 percent corn, produced in the United States, and aged in new charred oak barrels for at least two years. Unlike some other types of whiskey, where coloring and flavor additives may be present, bourbon maintains an authentic and unadulterated profile.

The origins of bourbon as a distinct form of whiskey is not well documented. But most historians agree though that the art of distillation was most likely brought to present day Kentucky by Scots, Irish and Welsh immigrants.

In recent years we have seen great innovation in the making of bourbon whiskey and this is nowhere more apparent than in the unique maritime whiskeys of the Isle of Whidbey. Embraced by the Puget Sound and nestled between the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, Whidbey’s unique location provides three distinct factors that affect the development of island whiskeys. The first is the presence of the largest coastal peat bog in North America. The use of water pulled through this source adds a significant mineral content to these coastal whiskeys. The second is the push and pull of barometric pressures that rapidly increases the extraction of flavors in the casks. The final factor is the constant influence of the salty sea air which brings forth a clear maritime character. These factors augment the bourbon without challenging it, creating a flavor profile reminiscent of the Scottish Isles.

Cadée Distillery has embraced this maritime character and has developed two uniquely finished bourbon expressions that exemplify it. One is the Deceptivus, a beautifully soft Portuguese port-finished bourbon. The other is the Medusa, a complex yet refined Madeira-finished bourbon. The flavors of these expressions integrate their rich finishes with the distinctive character of the sea developing a unique American maritime whiskey. They show us how far bourbon has come from its roots in the Kentucky region!

Cyrus Gubelman


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