American Single Malt Whiskey Review
Westland American Oak
Single Malt Whiskey
Non Chill Filtered
From the Distillers Website
In our pursuit of an authentically American single malt whiskey, we bring our signature five-malt barley bill together with new American oak casks—two things practically unheard of in the old world. This combination produces a dramatically different whiskey from what is now commonplace and expected in the single malt category. But just as traditional styles of single malt from Scotland emerged as a reflection of regions such as Islay and Speyside, so too does our American Oak stay true to the provenance of our Pacific Northwest home.
Release Number: 0006
Initial Release Date: June 2014
Total Bottled: N/A
Minimum Maturation Time: 36 Months
Washington Select Pale Malt
Extra Special Malt
Pale Chocolate Malt
Cooper’s Select New American Oak
Cooper’s Reserve New American Oak
First Fill Ex-Bourbon
Belgian Brewer’s Yeast
96 - 144 Hours
NOSE: Lemon and orange custard, waffle cone, crème brûlée, chocolate custard, jasmine.
PALATE: Rich fruit, Rainier cherries, Swiss chocolate, almond, bananas, cream, Turkish coffee.
Correction to be made to our YouTube video, the value score should be 78.35/100 rather than the 88.35 mentioned in the video. Apologies.
This is the first American Single Malt Whiskey that we have tried, it is so unique that we werent happy with our first youtube video, that we had to re-record it making some adjustments such is the unique nature of this American Single Malt. In fact, the Westland we choose, wasn't actually the whisky we were going to review, but a quick change at the last moment left us a little less prepared. We all need to learn and its how we grow and getter better. We selected the Whiskey based on that fact the review co-incided with World Whisky Day.
Many of you may not have heard that our Cousins from the USA make Single Malt Whiskey and many more of you may not have heard of the Westland Distillery and their brand before. But what do they offer? and is an American Single Malt any different from a Scottish Single Malt or Japanese / English or Welsh style of Single Malt? Continue reading and we will help you decide if it's a whiskey you will want to try.
Following the video review we did further research and we are going to try and answer some questions.
The Westland Distillery is based out of Seattle on the American West Pacific Coast State of Washington. They are a relatively new distillery, founded in 2010 by Matt Hofmann and Emerson Lamb. The pair have won countless awards and accolades for their whiskey. In late 2016 it was announced that Rémy Cointreau were to buy the distillery and add it their expanding portfolio of American brands.
But what about the whiskey? First we must look at the value score. We purchased a Drinks by the Dram Sample from Master of Malt, a really 30ml just isn't enough to understand this whiskey. A regular bottle of 700ml in the UK costs an average of £64.95, we will come back to this in a moment. Its bottled at 46% ABV, is non chill filtered and is natural colour. Being aged for 36 months or three years contributes to it receiving a disappointing values score of 78.35 out of 100. This is a disappointing score. If you have been following us a while, you will know our value scores are made up of the following;
Average UK Price for a 700ml bottle
Maturation Age in years
Chill Filtration or Not
Natural Colour or not
and for limited or special releases:
Cask Strength* and Single Cask also impact the value score
*Regular releases can be cask strength also.
In the case of the Westland, the value score suffers because it is only matured for 3 years and relatively speaking the price in the UK is quite expensive. This brings us back to the bottle size and price.
The UK bottle is a standard 700ml rather than the US standard of 750ml, this means this bottling was SPECIFICALLY aimed at the UK (or European Market), since they provided a 700ml bottling. £64.95 for a 3 year old whiskey seems quite expensive, especially given the brand is owned by the multinational Rémy Cointreau who have well established distribution channels across the world. However, after some research, in the USA the 750ml bottle retails for around $70, approx £57. So the UK price isn't too different. We have to give credit to Westland (Rémy Cointreau) for not trying to price gouge the UK market.
But there is more. Take a look at the Westland Distillery webpage for the American Oak, again they need credit here. They have been so open and honest about their whiskey. They detail five varieties of Malt and three cask types (Two of the casks are made at the provided link) that have been used for this whiskey, including a variety of malt that is only produced here in the UK, the Pale Chocolate Malt. As someone who has done their own 'All Grain' homebrew beer, I can appreciate the research involved in selecting varieties of barley to build a flavour profile and this openess by Westland has to be commended, its something that other distilleries should take note of.
So this openess by Westland does explain away why the American Oak seems expensive. Off the back of this insight we may need to re-evaluate our value score and take account of extra information provided by the distillery, in effect an additional 'Openness' score.
Ok, enough, what does it taste like?
As mentioned, a 30ml sample really is not enough time to get to know this whiskey.
But we can only work with what we have.
On the nose: The initial nose is bourbon. Oak, vanilla and some spicey citrus.
On the palate: There is a note of bourbon, citrus and vanilla. There is a great bitterness which runs right through it, but its creamy and with the bitterness which is chocolate and coffee, it come across tasting like a frapaccino coffee or chilled latte.
This is better on the taste than bourbon, there is more going on, bourbons tend to have only a couple of notes. The American Oak has cherries and dark fruits but a lovely coffee bitter oak running through it.
With water the palate brings forth more of the bourbon notes of citrus and vanilla, but you also get rose water. This whiskey is so unique, we haven't tried anything like this. Its not like a Scottish Single Malt nor is it like a Bourbon. It sits in the middle.
This is a 'Talking Point Whiskey', while we may not buy a full bottle, unless we can get it cheaper, we would certainly want to try it again, maybe the 200ml bottle would be on the cards and this whiskey is to be shared, at a whisky tasting evening, in our experience it is that unique and I would imagine it will split people 50/50 on their preference.
We give it an overall score of 87/100 which at the time of writing makes it the highest scoring American Whiskey of any kind we have reviewed so far. If we get to try it again and can try it over a few months, we can only imagine that score will improve.
**While writing this review and doing further research, we are missing this whiskey, we want to try it again, its that unique. We aslo desperately want to try the ColdFoot limited edition whiskey from Westland, this has a maturation time of 5 years and has maturation casks including Oloroso Butts. Sounds Amazing.