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….

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Breaking open the bar – Westland, Glenmorangie, Balblair and DeCavo

We had another type of evening planned but with our original contributor unwell, decided to shift gears completely and crack open our respective bars to pull out an open bottle or two.

What did we decide to try / revisit?

  • Westland American Oak 46% – What once impressed…. now disappointed… just not what it used to be…
  • Glenmorangie 19 year 43% – First opened with the Whisky Ladies in January,  Soft citrus, fruity, light florals, lovely… classic Glenmorangie style
  • Balblair 05 46% – Opened as part of a recent evening with the folks from InterBev, it had a slightly sour element not previously found but still most drinkable
  • DeCavo NAS Batch 10 Cask 92 46% – Brought back as our favourite from a recent European exploration. Still lip smackingly good! We’d love to try more and a 375 ml bottle is perfect size for our tastings…

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Westland Trio – American Oak 46%

Our Bombay Malt & Cigar club’s 2nd July session featured a Westland trio – currently my favourite American distillery, with this my favourite of the three standard official bottlings.

We began with the Westland Peated – an interesting choice as one typically would start with a lighter ex-bourbon. But no – our friend chose to reverse the order beginning 1st with peat then moved on to the flagship single malt – American Oak – neatly covered making it impossible to know what we were sampling.

What did we find?

Westland American Oak 46%

  • Nose – A lovely almost sherry sweet character, spice, pepper, cloves, resin, beeswax, wood sap, fresh pine tree, sweet brioche, pineapple upside down cake, cream… one even suggested Malibu coconut rum! After some time, a sweet creamy banana split, an inviting mix of sweet citrus like blood oranges
  • Palate – Soft, quite light on the palate, smooth, coconut, little spice almost like paprika or cayenne, then after time softens into pink peppercorn, a lovely creamy quality like milk chocolate, far too dangerously drinkable,
  • Finish – A nice medium finish, candy, red liquorice, light spice chaser
  • Water – Pushes spice from the finish to the palate

The nose was initially bursting with character then settled down into a most agreeable and frankly delicious aroma, easy drinking character on the palate with a light but delightful barely there finish.

While not necessarily a cigar whisky, it is exactly the kind of every day dram you want in your whisky cabinet. It is eminently companionable… lovely to sniff, sip and enjoy.

When our Whisky Ladies sampled this back in January 2017, they enjoyed it immensely! With one remarking it simply spoke to her: “Relax my love, just drink me now.”

Here’s what the folks over at Westland have to say:

A flagship malt is the core expression of a distillery’s house style. Westland’s American Oak is a reflection of where it is made and the collective intent of those who made it. When we founded Westland Distillery, we had a vision for an entirely new category of whiskey. Distilled from the rich, flavorful barley of Washington State and matured predominantly in new American oak casks in the steady, cool humidity of our seaside home, this whiskey is a testament to that vision. All of these choices and ingredients conspire to create an approachable, mature and uniquely American single malt that can stand with the best whiskies in the world.

And their tasting notes:

  • The initial nose provides lemon and orange custard backed by freshly produced waffle cone. Shortly after, a rich creaminess emerges with creme brûlée and chocolate custard while a hint of jasmine hides just beneath the surface.
  • The first sip confirms the creamy and rich fruit custard notes of the nose, adding an element of rainier cherries. After five minutes, melting swiss chocolate is revealed with a hint of almond.
  • Extended tastings brings out bananas and cream with Turkish coffee.

The other Westland’s whiskies sampled in our July 2017 trio included:

Not enough Westland?  Check out other tasting experiences:

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Westland Trio – Peated, American Oak, Sherry Wood

Our Bombay Malt & Cigar club try to meet every month or two… however sometimes busy schedules get in the way and derail our best intentions.

For example, our February session was postponed to May (Undisclosed Distillery Drams). Our June session could only happen early July (Scotch Malt Whisky Society Quartet)… and  yet amazingly, we were able to hold our original July session as planned!

What was in store for us?

Our whisky and cigar curator for the evening put careful thought into our evening… tracking down a trio of Westland whiskies… carefully obscuring the bottles even the caps! All so we could have a fully blind tasting experience.

He also chose an order to deliberately trip us up a little:

In the meantime, do check out our other brushes with Westland?

And his cigar pairing choice? A Gurkha Founder’s Reserve 12 year…

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on: