Featured at World Whisky Day 2015: Westland Distillery is one of the new distilleries popping up throughout the U.S. over the last decade or so, drawing to mind the rise of craft brewing in the preceding decades. Taking a cue from the beer and coffee cultures of the Pacific Northwest, Westland uses five different malts (Washington pale ale malt, Munich malt, extra special malt, pale chocolate malt and a brown malt) along with Belgian brewer’s yeast. They are very clear in that they are trying to make a whiskey true to the region from which they come, including moving towards sourcing all their ingredients locally in the near future. These are very new whiskies, only being on the market since 2013, so we’ll be very interested to follow Westland’s growth.
Region: United States
Maturation: Heavy Char New American Oak
Nose: Cedar, evergreen, sassafras, Christmas wreath, spice, root beer
Palate: Mint, chocolate, green apple, silky, nut,
Finish: Chocolate, wintergreen
Adam – Hello darkness, my old friend. I’d love to be all showy in my terminology and exhaustive in my list of the plethora of layered tastes in this whiskey, yet there is truly no other way to say it than this is like having Christmas in my mouth. I’m immediately transported to a deep winter full of snow and evergreen and deep nights with only the stars and tree lights in the distance to light your way. It’s also the warmth of being inside, the deep warmth that can only come when the chilling winds are on the outside, successfully held at bay by the fire in the hearth or the tinkle of childhood laughter. Against all reason, this whiskey works really well in the summer, full of cedar and spice and a definite bit of dark, dark chocolate on the finish. Interestingly enough, it’s an aftertaste that stays in your mouth rather than sinks into your chest. It’s incredibly balanced, more impressively for being so young. It’s also unique, my hands down favorite from World Whisky Day this year. They’re not trying to imitate anyone, and their commitment to ultimately sourcing all their ingredients locally is one I think more distilleries should follow. I can’t wait to try their other offerings, and hopefully one day tour the distillery to make their acquaintance personally.
Kate – Unlike other whiskies we’ve tried where they try to be different, this one is very different with that mint mocha flavor but it works. If this is going to be a gentlemen like Henry says, it’s a distinguished one that smells of pipe tobacco.
Meghan – I don’t always snort whiskey up my nose, but when I do I make sure it’s the Westland. The perils of nosing whiskey with your eyes closed aside, I do find this Seattle release to be refreshing and vibrant. It has a clean man smell – like cedar and wintergreen mixed with a cool spiciness. I’ve had whiskies that claim minty-ness but never had one where I found that flavor. It’s a wintergreen mint versus peppermint or any other sweeter mint. I love it’s smoothness on the tongue, it is like having your mouth draped with the finest silk. Hell, it even manages to taste pretty good as post-nasal drip (note: Scotchology does not recommend pouring whiskey into your nose in any way but if it had to happen, it worked to be Westland).
Henry – To be honest, this whiskey was a difficult one for me to review, mostly because I have such respect for Westland Distillery’s business model and vision for its products. Forgive me if I rave about it. However, I’m not alone in my praise, as Westland’s signature American single malt won double gold at the 2014 World Spirits Competition. Those who follow my reviews know that I have a penchant for comparing Scotch whiskies to ladies. Well, this one’s a gentleman. Elegant spice on the nose graciously transitions to toasted oak on the palate, with an understated smoky finish that goes on for miles. It almost reminds me of an unpeated Oban, but with its own strong personality – Westland is not trying to make Scotch in the USA. Like the best Japanese whiskies, they have created a single malt unique to their location, and I want more.