America is beginning to see the development of whiskeys aged in manners similar to that of the Isles of Scotland, with a clear maritime character. These whiskeys are bourbons and ryes, not malts, but it is often suggested that they share more character with their Scottish cousins than their American predecessors.
It's with great pleasure that today I have an opportunity to review something a little different, a beautiful maritime bourbon from Washington State's own Cadée Distillery. These artists of their craft bring innovation and creativity to the ancient art of whiskey making. The Medusa is a beautiful 5 year old Straight Bourbon Whiskey that is treated to an 18 to 24 month finish in imported Madeira wine barrels. It is the first example that I have seen of a bourbon with this type of finish which, coupled with the distillery's unique maritime ageing process, develops a whiskey of distinctive individual character. The Medusa is bottled at 40% ABV with its elegant natural colour.
Nose: Full and fragrant with smells of spice, orange zest, vanilla and sea weed. Also present on the nose is cabernet wine and light floral notes of heather.
Palate: Creamy and voluptuous with flavours of berries, crème brûlée, brown sugar and preserves. Also present is the clear taste of sea salt.
Finish: A long full finish with lovely notes of sea weed and apple pie.
At Cadée they take enormous pride in their maritime ageing process which derives from their location. Embraced by the Puget Sound and nestled between the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, Whidbey Island's unique location provides three distinct factors that affect the development of their 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 their coastal whiskeys. The second is the push and pull of barometric pressures that rapidly increases the extraction of flavors in their casks. The final factor is the constant influence of the salty sea air which brings forth a clear maritime character. These factors augment the whiskey without challenging it, creating a flavor profile reminiscent of the Scottish Isles. If you haven't had an opportunity I would highly recommend trying some of their expressions. Sláinte!