Reviews of Maritime American Single Malt and Distiller's Select Bourbon from Jettywave Distillery

Jettywave Distillery was founded in 2021 by the husband and wife team of Mishelle and David Westendorf. Mishelle serves as the CEO, while David is the Chief Marketing Officer. Chief Creative Officer Tanya Slye and Chief Financial Officer Lucy Gillies are also co-founders of the distillery.


Blake Kelleher, formerly of Seven Stills, is the Head Distiller and has a philosophy of trial and error; he comes up with an idea, and if it doesn’t pan out, he keeps tinkering with blending until it meets his standards. He relishes the challenge of experimentation.  


Their California distillery was formerly the home of Half Moon Bay Distillery, which relocated to a nearby venue. Jettywave is big on sustainability:


“Jettywave feels a responsibility to our oceanside community to act responsibly when it comes to operating a business. We commit to reducing our impact by consciously making decisions to support and engage our local community. Our spent grain from our whiskey production gets donated weekly to a local farmer who uses it to feed his cattle and pigs. Each run of our still recycles our heated water and cools it to be recycled and used again reducing our water use substantially.

Scattered throughout our outdoor dining space you'll find planters filled with edible plants and ingredients used in our cocktails and food. By growing our own ingredients we can be certain of their quality and alignment with our commitment to source locally.” – Jettywave Distillery


So here’s the cool thing: you’d have to have the bottle in your hand to notice it. The bottle labels are made from fabric! I’ve held thousands of bottles in my hands over the years, and I can’t recall ever seeing that. KUDOS to Jettywave for coming up with unique packaging!


Jettywave makes a variety of spirits, including absinthe, vodka, gin, moonshine, a coffee liqueur, and whiskeys. It also features an on-site restaurant called Gibraltar Gems, with Executive Chef Jose Luis at the helm.  


Today’s adventure explores two of Jettywave’s whiskeys: a Bourbon and an American Single Malt. Both are available from the distillery’s website. There are select local stores that carry Jettywave’s most popular products.


Before we get to the #DrinkCurious part, I must thank Jettywave Distillery for providing me with these samples in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews.


Maritime Single Malt Whiskey


This American Single Malt is made from a sustainably-developed, dryland barley strain developed by the University of California – Davis. Local floor malting (germinating and drying the barley) is rare in the United States. Jettywave gets it from Admiral Maltings in Alameda, and distillation is performed on-premises.


The maritime environment influenced the whiskey while it matured six months in former “Jetty Barrel” Bourbon barrels subjected to a #3 char. If you’re wondering how a whiskey aged only six months could be palatable, my experience is that under the right conditions, that’s plenty for an American Single Malt.


Maritime Single Malt is packaged in 375ml bottles at 45% ABV (90°), with a suggested price of $50.00.


Appearance: I poured this whiskey into my Glencairn glass to sip neat. The liquid was the color of straw, which is nice because that indicates Blake added nothing to adulterate it. The fragile rim couldn’t hold its own weight; its tears fell quickly with crooked lines.


Nose: The aroma was quite fragrant. Smells of milk chocolate, citrus, caramel, and a slight brininess wafted from the glass. Drawing the air through my lips added a smoky quality.


Palate: I found the texture oily, and the first things I tasted were chocolate, smoke, and salted caramel. Orange zest, barley, and tobacco followed. The back offered clove, leather, and allspice.


Finish: The long-lasting finish featured clove, allspice, leather, tobacco, chocolate, and smoke.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: One of the things I admire about American Single Malts is how each distillery produces something unique. I would have been satisfied if the palate had begun and ended with the front. The rest was a bonus. The charred oak produced its smoky taste; it is not a peated whiskey.


Maritime Single Malt Whiskey seems expensive when you do the math. Were this a 750ml, it would cost $100.00. I appreciate that Jettywave packages it in 375mls because it is worth grabbing a Bottle.   




Distiller’s Select Small Batch Bourbon


The label says Small Batch. For the record, that’s a marketing term with no legal definition. In reality, Distiller’s Select is a batch of one barrel; in this case, it is from Barrel #38.


Distilled on-site from a mash of 80% California-grown corn and 20% California-malted barley, this Bourbon carries no age statement. Legally, that suggests it is at least four years old. However, considering the distillery was operational in 2021, it is likely a two-year whiskey. I’ve seen many “oopsies” regarding age statements (or a lack thereof) on labels; these somehow got past the TTB. This 375ml package weighs a hefty 57.5% (115°) and sells for $60.00.


Appearance: Like the Maritime Single Malt, I used my Glencairn glass to sip this Bourbon neat. The thin-to-medium rim seemed to glue itself to the wall, eventually releasing thick tears.


Nose: I smelled corn, caramel, eucalyptus, and charred oak. Bringing the vapor into my mouth brought an enhanced flavor of caramel.


Palate: Distiller’s Select mouthfeel was thick and creamy. The front of my palate plucked bold caramel and corn. At mid-palate, I found barrel char and honey-roasted almonds, while the back tasted of cocoa powder, oak, and allspice.  


Finish: This Bourbon’s very long finish had plenty of allspice, along with caramel, mocha, and barrel char.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Barrel #38 was definitely different. I loved the caramel on the front, the honey-roasted almonds at the middle, and the allspice on the back. There was that tasty mocha on the finish. It didn’t taste young, likely due to the high malted barley content and lack of rye. While I enjoyed that part, I was not fond of the dominating eucalyptus on the nose. The rest of the sipping experience fell somewhere in between. It is also pricey. It would still take my Bar rating even if it was 750ml versus 375ml.  




Final Thoughts: I’m impressed with what this young distilling team can do. The Bourbon, at least Barrel #38, is imperfect; some of what’s lacking can likely be addressed with another year or so in oak. The Maritime Single Malt is stunning. I see a great future for Jettywave and hope to experience what rolls down the line. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you to do so responsibly.