It was at one time customary for this blog to introduce a new brand with a quick history overview. That’s becoming less and less necessary in my view, so I will leave Westland Distillery’s story to the internet, as their story has been told already in numerous places (here’s a good one). Let’s spend the brief blessed time that we have left on a few particulars that bear mentioning concerning one of Washington state’s top distilleries.
It’s already been said numerous times, and I’m sure Westland is well aware that American single malt is low on the priority scale under our beloved bourbons and ryes. But where one distillery may see a road to no where when it comes to producing this style, it appears that Westland said “bring it on.” Since beginning in 2010, the Westland crew has ensured that this emerging, important style is given the care and sophistication needed to succeed. They enjoy national distribution, a premium price tag and three elegantly branded options ranging from their flagship straight single malt, sherry wood finished and peated version. Based on a fairly extensive search of what has already been published, Westland seems to be built to dominate the market for this type of whiskey. As long as they are committed to putting the best possible spirit they can on the shelf, I see no reason why Westland won’t be miles ahead of anyone else across our fruited plain.
We focus today’s review on Westland’s Sherry Wood single malt expression. This whiskey is comprised of a staggering six different barley malts distilled and aged in four, yes, four different oak types. After spending time in new and refilled bourbons casks, it is then finished in two more types of sherry casks: olorso and the mighty Pedro Ximenez. Some distillate is aged on site in their downtown Seattle location, but most is matured near the coast over in Hoquiam, WA. Westland bottles their Sherry Wood expression after little over two years, and they prefer to state the age in months at twenty six, much like a parent ages a toddler in months, not years. Our selection today is bottled at a nice 46% ABV and is non-chill filtered. Let’s get to it….
Nose- Youthful grain underneath the Macallan like dried fruit/dates. Thick wine influence. Fresh greenery. Lively. Figs and toffee with faint pine notes. Decent balance, sherry finishing is certainly front and center but is not overwhelming.
Taste- Raisinettes with some heat. Nice mouth feel with milk chocolate feel. Fruity and sweet with some weight. Well done.
Finish- Charred barrel, full and chewy. Meaty fruit. Medium to long length. Young barley. Plenty happening here.
Comments- It is certainly not lost on most reviewers that this whiskey is quite young. The sherry finishing does not mask this in any way, but I would argue that these immature notes are not a big negative. Much care went into the composition of this malt and I believe it shows well in the final product. Nice branding and overall presentation and I think that a few more years in oak will fill out the flavor gaps. Our only real criticism is the high price ($50), as this is a big deterrent for repeat purchases of a bottle that still needs more development. I’m confident I will enjoy the rest of my bottle, if that’s any consolation.
SWC Rating – 85/100
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.
Contact us at SpokaneWhiskey@gmail.com
I had this juice at a restaurant in LaConner last weekend, and found it very pleasant. Yes, it did have some heat from being a little over 2 years old, but it was very flavorful and aromatic. I wonder how long (like 3 or more years) they will let certain barrels lay around before bottling.
Westland’s arrow is pointing up and these lovely little bottlings could only get better with time. I have not kept up with them for some time, perhaps I need to catch up and see how they have progressed.
I think this is one of the best single malts in the USA.
I’m partial to McCarthy’s malt, but Westland isn’t too far behind. The more age they can get out of this thing the better.