- On October 1, 2015
It’s the first week of the Fall Whisk(e)y Sale, so let’s dig right in! This week we’ll be talking about one of the rising stars of the American micro movement: Westland Distillery. While you might expect an unaged spirit, bourbon or a rye coming from them, they’re doing something much more surprising and special… making top notch Single Malt!
Westland is a family-owned business based in Seattle, WA. It’s always nice to see family working together! They are crafting a unique and deeply delicious malt whiskey near the Pacific Coast. It’s a scene almost reminiscent of a traditional Scottish distillery, except for the whole being located in the heart of Downtown thing. Taking a cue from craft brewers, Westland has sought not only to use local ingredients as much as possible, but to play with various different malts traditionally used for beer in their mash. This practice opens up different flavor profiles that are underrepresented in traditional Malt Whisky. You could say that they are taking something thoroughly Scottish and doing something very traditionally American: riffing on it.
The flagship Westland American Single Malt is comprised of five distinct types of barley malt. The base is Washington-grown pale malt, with Munich, Extra Special, Pale Chocolate and Brown being added in. The flavors of these specialty malts give the final product a unique chocolate and nut flavor to it. If you try it, you’ll note it’s quite forward and distinct. This is their signature flavor profile. They use a Belgian yeast strain during fermentation to contribute some of the classic fruity notes you’ll find in their beers. They then take the traditional American route and age the whiskey in two types of New American Oak barrels (full size ones!) as well as mixing in some ex-bourbon and ex-sherry barrels, as is the customary Scottish practice. This all results in a Malt that is creamy chocolate-y, rich with dark berry notes with a touch of golden graham cereal and coconut. Immensely enjoyable, seriously sippable, and full of promise for future releases.($62.99 on sale from $69.99)
The second whiskey we’ll be discussing this week is Westland’s Peated Malt. This whiskey is unique in that it is made from not one but two distinct new make spirits. Westland distills a mash of intensely smoky peated malt (55ppm phenol) as well as a mash entirely of their WA-grown Pale Malt, and then ages them separately until maturation. After combining the two finished whiskies, you get a cool striation of peat/smoke flavors that is a bit more nuanced than you might find elsewhere. You get a cool combo of the smokiest whiskey you can think of with the tame, nutty cereal flavor of a single grain (though it is, in fact a malt!) This, combined with their mix of barrels again gives the spirit a flavor very distinct unto itself. You get the usual campfire aroma, but with some cool honeycomb bundled in. Salted mixed nuts springs onto the palate, with the usual leather/dirty notes of a smokebomb Malt. Herbaceous notes pop more with water and air. ($62.99 on sale from $69.99)
These two spirits are young, but show incredible promise. Even with their youth, they have depth of flavor well beyond their years. The duo will be joined next week in the store by a Sherry finished malt that might just be the best of the bunch. We cannot say enough good things about Westland, so do yourself a favor and experience them soon!