By Father John Rayls
Westland Distillery began operating in Seattle, WA in 2010, producing their 92 proof Single Malt American Whiskey. In 2014, they began shipping nationally via Anchor Distilling, pushing the concept of a product with ingredients grown and produced exclusively from the Pacific Northwest. Emerson Lamb, President of Westland Distillery, wants to put the state of Washington “on the map” as a world class place to make malt whiskey, and he may be well on his way towards achieving this goal.
The Westland Single Malt is their initial offering, produced from a grain bill with five different roasted and kilned malts. The more specialized malts were added with the intent to impart notes of chocolate, nuts, cookies, pastries, mocha, caramel and raisins, while a Belgian brewer’s yeast creates fruity extras during fermentation. Separating American malts from Irish, Scottish, Japanese or others is maturation in new American white oak, which adds the more traditional American flavors of vanilla and caramel. Finally, the whiskey is bottled at 46% abv (92 proof), fairly typical of Scotch whiskeys of middling strength.
The legs appear to be long even though the whiskey appears to be on the thin side. It has a beautiful golden copper coloring in the glass. The first aromas made me think of cereal with fruit and took me back to my childhood. But I wanted to nail it down. I wanted to be more specific. It was unusual and yet interesting. After numerous attempts to identify what I was smelling, it dawned on me. It was Cheerios and cherries. I wouldn’t describe the nose as bold, but it certainly wasn’t subtle either. The aromas are definitely intriguing and appealing.
The activity in the mouth was almost exclusively mid-mouth on top of the tongue with only slight runs along the tongue edges. It’s a short to medium finish. The flavors are very interesting. Initially, a subtle cherry/orange flavor introduces a bolder oaky-nutty chocolate. It then fades leaving the subtle cherry and orange to reassert itself. Of course, you will also pick up hints of the flavors of vanilla and caramel. This is a very interesting and enjoyable whiskey. It does not drink hot, but is an engaging whiskey. This is not an overly sweet whiskey and yet with the chocolate overtones it would make a very interesting after dinner desert drink.
Unfortunately, I had an extremely small sample to work with, and can claim only a passing familiarity with Westland’s single malt. However, I did enjoy what I had and wouldn’t hesitate to buy a bottle for further exploration.
I have seen this whiskey listed at $79.99, but their newest whiskeys are listed at a suggested $69.99. My guess is that you may now find the American Single Malt in that same price range.