There is a romance about faraway places…a setting so different from the one you experience daily. Growing up in Southern California (in the suburbs of Los Angeles, to be exact), I took for granted the mild, relatively unchanging weather; the natural flora of scrub brush and oak trees (and the human-introduced flora of palm trees and green grass); and the miles and miles of asphalt filled with housing tracts, strip malls, and the like. That’s the environment I knew. Even heading up to the mountains above LA, to the pine forests, seemed exotic to me. The Pacific Northwest is a dream-state for me, lush rain forests and natural rivers. So much green! And it is in the heart of the Pacific Northwest that Westland Distillery utilizes their natural resources to produce an exceptional American single malt whiskey.
For Westland’s whisky, the focus is not the aging in barrels – it’s what goes into the mash tun that distinguishes them from other single malts. In other words, Westland looks at barley the way a brewer does, namely that different barley varietals and roasting levels have a significant influence on the taste. Westland prides itself on the 5-component recipe of barley that is the basis for all their expressions: unroasted, light roast, medium roasts, and dark and heavy roasted malted barleys. The dark roast especially gives Westland that distinctive dark chocolate and coffee flavors in their expressions. In addition, Westland uses New American Oak barrels that have been air dried rather than kiln dried (the standard in the whiskey industry), thus reducing the woodiness and oiliness that can come from the latter type of barrels.
Okay, enough preaching about Westland…let’s taste some whiskey! (we thought you’d never ask!)
Westland American Single Malt at Gordon’s DTX, August 16, 2017
Presented by Chris Riesback
Join Chris Riesbeck and the Gordon’s Whisky Team for a unique opportunity to taste through one of the most popular American Single Malts! I have had customers conduct blind taste tests with Westland Single Malts and people are consistently guessing that it is a decently well aged Scotch Single Malt. You be the judge and come try these with us!
Westland American Single Malt
The flagship expression, almost exclusively 5 malt blend, 2 different New American Oak casks
- Nose: honey, oranges, ripe pineapple, dark chocolate
- Taste: soft coffee, chocolate, hint of menthol
- Finish: mocha coffee, dark chocolate fades to ash.
- Comments: a mouthful of flavor, lovely, creamy dark ganache as a drink, very distinctive nothing added. Soft, showcases the 5-malt grain combo
Westland American Single Malt – Sherry Wood Aged
Almost exclusively 5 malt blend with some pale barley distillate added
Aged in Oloroso and PX sherry casks along with New American Oak for balance
- Nose: distinctive sherry cooked fruit, slightly menthol
- Taste: full & thick (Oloroso), sweet (PX), the malty grain slinks in, then falls to dark coffee
- Finish: sweetness lingers, some evergreen on the end
- Comments: excellent! Not cloyingly sweet, is balanced with the deep mocha
Westland American Single Malt – Peated
A combination of their 5 malt blend and pale malt along with peated malted barley from the Scottish Highlands
- Nose: immediate peat, light grain, apricots
- Taste: easy cream, nice texture w/ oily body, peat isn’t strong but pleasant
- Finish: the smokiness is lingering, soft and easy (not like drinking a campfire)
- Comments: such a nice easy peat, a good introduction for a new peat drinker
Westland American Single Malt – Single Cask #617 @ Cask Strength
Their “Boston blend,” so named because it was the 617th cask produced
- Nose: lighter fruit, a little harsh alcohol note, slightly green
- Taste: higher alcohol, sweeter but not cloying
- Finish: fades to a eucalyptus
- Comments: very interesting! The more you sip the more you want, not many available anymore
Westland truly makes a lineup that shines. All these expressions are well balanced in each category, so for example in the sherry expression, the chocolate doesn’t overshadow the sherry or the sherry to overshadow the cereal notes. It’s an approach that I appreciate as a whisky drinker, allowing the different flavors in the dram to be savored.
This Westland lineup is definitely one I would consider buying. Maybe I can go visit the distillery one day, in the green and exotic Pacific Northwest? Why not? Westward Ho!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!