Single malt whiskey typically conjures images of Scotland and rolling fields of heather. And while Scotland continues to produce the vast majority of single malts, more American distillers are getting into the game. Balcones and St. George are a couple fine examples. And introduced just last month is the American Single Malt Whiskey from Seattle’s Westland Distillery.
The American Single Malt is the newest product in the Westland portfolio, which also includes a Peated Malt Whiskey, as well as a a handful of special release and single cask expressions. Its base is a pale malt grown locally in Washington, and from there four more roasted and kilned barley malts are added to the grain bill. Once distilled, the liquid is transferred to new American oak barrels (a method usually reserved for bourbon) for a minimum of 24 months. The result is a unique, flavorful whiskey that’s unlike almost anything you’d find in Scotland.
On the nose, Westland American Single Malt Whiskey is full of fruit and grain. Cherries, sweet malts, mild vanilla and a touch of almonds. Take a sip, and the rich whiskey grips your palate. Initial flavors include a pronounced chocolate note, plus some coffee, oaky caramel and more cherry. It’s very warm and spicy, but not overly alcoholic. On the finish, things moved toward fruit (orange, mostly) and cardamom, and somewhere below the surface lurked a hint of sweet tobacco leaves.
That’s one interesting whiskey. Westland’s American Single Malt makes the most of its five barleys, drawing out lots of roasty flavors like chocolate and coffee. Paired with the American oak accents, it’s not the most balanced whiskey we’ve tasted. But it’s one that kept us going back for more.
This is our first brush with Westland Distillery, a relative newcomer dating back to just 2010. Consider our interest piqued.
– 46% ABV
CE Rating: ★★★★