Distillery Aims to Preserve Historic Shipwrecks Through Whiskey Making
Three Michigan men have a novel idea for how to help preserve and also share historic shipwrecks with the public: Through whiskey. Head distiller at Mammoth Distillery Ari Sussman, his boss and CEO of an expanding Michigan spirits business Chad Munger, and shipwreck diver and researcher Ross Richardson have started a nonprofit named “Save the Westmoreland” to help further efforts to incorporate shipwrecks into whiskey distilling, reports MLive..
The idea is to use old oak pieces from sunken shipwrecks to help create barrels for finishing the whiskey, and potentially adding pieces directly to the liquor during cask finishing for a unique flavor and provenance. “Whiskey is a great canvas to project creativity and storytelling,” said Sussman, reports MLive. “Working with wood from shipwrecks is a novel approach…We can have whiskey flavored by the Westmoreland shipwreck — and by making that whiskey available to the public, we think we could help fund preservation efforts.”
The historic 1854 Westmoreland shipwreck discovered off the coast of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore by Richardson in 2010 is where they’d like to start. It’s controversial, since conventional preservation standards and Michigan law generally prohibit disturbing historical wrecks. But the team argues that their idea could help preserve the ship’s history in a new format and potentially fund further preservation efforts, rather than allowing wrecks to decay on the lakebed.
“We’re not trying to recover barrels and bottle this stuff and sell it for $100 million,” Munger added, according to MLive. “That’s not the goal here. The goal is to learn and share. If there’s a way for the wreck itself to pay for exploring its own history, we’d like to do that.”