Westland Whiskey – From “Wow” to maybe “Not Now”!

Three years ago I was introduced to Westland and went from curious and cautiously impressed, to “This really is very good”, to wow and fan status. Til now…

Westland Cask No 395 54.6% – June 2015

We found the hand filled Cask No 395 to be “very creative, complex, insanely interesting.” Since then I’ve kept an eye out for Westland, encouraging others to check it out too.

Westland Sherry 46% – Oct 2016

This positive perspective continued when our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents tried the Sherry Wood blind. For many this was the 1st truly impressive American single malt they sampled. They generously shared the the bottle with the Whisky Ladies who were equally impressed.

Westland Single Malt 46% – Jan 2017

Now on the hunt for Westland, the Whisky Ladies managed to acquire the standard Single Malt and cracked it open early 2017. We loved it!  Rapturous moans of pleasure… marmalade, praline, buttery, creamy, bursting with different elements. it was a complete hit!

Westland Trio – July 2017

This enthusiasm picked up pace even more when the Bombay Malt & Cigar group blind tasted a trio of Peated 46%American Oak 46%, Sherry Wood 46%. While the Sherry and American Oak came out on top, they were all terrific and firmly cemented a fan club.

A bottle came home with me and was my “go to” dram during a stressful project with a small nip once and a while, which guaranteed to bring both relaxation and a smile.

Westland American Oak – June 2018

Fast forward nearly a year and this positive trajectory took an abupt about turn… with a bottle that completely “flopped”…

What did we find?

  • Nose – Caramel, honey, vanilla, sour, sharp, wood, after time a bit of sweet clove, more new oak
  • Palate – An odd edge, starts with spice on the tip of the tongue with a drop in the middle, not terribly satisfying
  • Finish – Very bitter… long but not enjoyable
  • Water – Helps… brought out a bit of mulled wine, orange syrup, sticky toffee and pudding on the nose, maybe marginally helped the palate, but not much

The best aspect was the aroma which at least went through some shifts but it overall it was a complete disappointment. It wasn’t “bad” but it also wasn’t “good” and it didn’t have any of the elements we found so enjoyable previously.

I started flipping through the pages of my tasting notebook, reading out past passages…

  • “Delicious aroma, easy drinking character” and “Dangerously drinkable” – Aroma was ok but dangerously drinkable? No way!
  • “Too caught up simply enjoying” and “Relax my love, drink me now…” – Huh?

This was simply not the same quality and character. And lest you think this was an anomaly, I had another bottle purchased around the same time. Same thing. Huge disappointment, needs water and can be disguised in cocktails. It isn’t disastrously bad, but it definitely isn’t amazingly good. More harsh, raw and curiously unsatisfying.

One wonders, after Westland was acquired by Remy Cointreau in Dec 2016, could this be a sign of things to come?

Or a “blip” in what was earlier an award winning upstart that put American single malt on the world whisky map?

Only time will tell….

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