With an old world aesthetic but new world know how, Matt and the folks over at Westland are making the world pay attention to what is possible from the West.
(circa 2016 via La Maison du Whisky, Singapore)
Here is what we discovered:
- Nose – While the colour was an instant ‘give away’ that this was likely Sherry cask, the nose wasn’t over the top sherry. Tingly, spicy, cinnamon bark, hint of wood smoke, dark treacle, some cereal, in short – delicious!
- Palate – Now the sherry comes through rich with stewed prunes, currents with sweet spices, complex
- Finish – Lovely warm with stewed fruits and a hint of liquorice
- Water – While initially shy to add, it brought out more sherry sweet in the nose, a dash more spice on the palate. While this whisky can continue to hold its own with a few drops, it honestly isn’t needed.
We had an immediate positive response to this whisky. It hit all the right elements for a darn good dram.
Speculation was this was likely a Speyside though not possible to pinpoint a specific distillery. Without a doubt, it was the most immediately enjoyable of the trio tasted. It also was the most complex, beautifully well-rounded.
With the reveal… lots of surprise and a squeal of delight (Ok that was me).
Let’s just say that many folks assume that only the Scots can produce a decent dram. And that time is required to bring out the best in a single malt.
Matured for a minimum of two years (take that folks who think age automatically means good!), Westland proves that you do not need age or be steeped in traditions to care about quality and translate that passion into making a very fine whisk(e)y indeed.
When I was first introduced last year to a Westland single malt with a hand filled cask strength, I could tell they were doing something special. The fellow whisky adventuress who brought the bottle had met with the team, trying their new make spirit and selecting the whisky she wanted to bring back from the US to India for us to try.
In short – I was impressed.
And with this Sherry Wood, I’m still impressed.
Here is what the folks over at Westland have to say:
- The nose offers an immediate richness, with honey-dipped oatmeal raisin cookies. Maple syrup follows close behind, drizzled over banana pancakes.
- The palate initially offers some kiwi with more maple and raisin syrup notes. Extended tastings offer a dazzling array of sweet cookies and pastries, getting darker and richer with time before eventually ceding the palate to stewed yellow fruits on the finish.
Westland’s Sherry Wood is a new world approach to an old world idea. For decades, the use of ex-sherry casks for whiskey maturation has been a favored technique in Scotland and beyond. In marrying the decadence of sherry with our unique grain-forward house style we create something altogether new. Like the grain we source, we hold our sherry casks to high standards of quality. These casks held some of the world’s finest Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry for nearly a century and in the skilled hands of Rafael Cabello and his team at Tonelería del Sur in Montilla, Spain they have been given new life and purpose. Our long-standing partnership with his family-owned cooperage now provides us with one of the largest supplies of sherry casks in America.
It paired exceedingly well with our cigars (Gurkha 17 year) and more than half the bottle had disappeared by the close of our evening!
Other whiskies featured in our BMC Blind Surprise tasting:
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