A brief change of direction …
Back in September, I had the pleasure of selecting a Westland American Single Malt Whiskey cask in collaboration with Malt Review and friends. It was an exciting tasting, with three distinct casks to consider.
The first, cask no. 4121, was the standard Westland five-malt recipe, though aged entirely in an ex-calvados cask (four years & five months). The second, cask no. 1229, was a peated five-malt whiskey matured in new ISC cooperage (aged six years & eight months). And finally, there was cask no. 5700, a five-malt whiskey, aged four years in new ISC cooperage, finished for an additional two years & seven months in an ex-tequila cask. Quite the lot!
After a good hour or so of deliberation, we decided on cask 5700. It was my choice from the get-go, and truthfully, a pleasant surprise. I’ll admit, I’m not a tequila fan. Maybe I simply haven’t tasted the right one, but at present I share the opinion of Justified’s Raylan Givens:
“I never developed a taste for tequila. I don’t understand how you can make a drink out of something like that … sharp, inhospitable.”
I’m sure many of you disagree with Raylan (and me) and love a nice glass of Patron. To each their own. But here’s something I’ll concede … It works damn fine as a malt whiskey finishing cask.
Going into the selection, I was confident I wouldn’t appreciate a tequila-finished malt. Hell, I was banking on the ex-calvados cask (I fancy a quality brandy). As for the peated whiskey, I was game. Ardbeg 10 is a personal favorite, as is Lagavulin 16. Given the right night, I can peat with the best of them. Yet, the moment I nosed cask 5700, I realized this was no “tequila whiskey.” It was wonderful – complex, layered, and thoroughly unique. Of course, I gave each cask its shot, putting each through the paces – nose, taste, finish, and back around again. But neither 4121 or 1229 spoke to me like 5700. My tasting notes follow …
Westland American Single Malt Whiskey – Cask 5700 “Symposium”
Cooperage: Rocky Mountain
Original Cask: ISC Coopers Reserve
Fill Date: 7/29/14
Finish Date: 7/18/18
Harvest Date: 2/22/21
Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …
Nose: box chocolates, cherry pie filling, Cadbury Egg, blackberry jam, maple, hints of dark citrus & applewood
Taste: toasted caramel, wheat toast & jelly, sweet & savory malt, Roman nougat, raisin bran, faint mocha coffee
Finish: long & textured w/ smoky vanilla, grilled pear, charred oak, singed lime peel, waves of vibrant earthy spice
Overall: A robust, flavorful, and fascinating dram – loaded with chocolate, cherry, grilled orchard fruit, ripe citrus, and smoky spice. I’m thoroughly impressed at the level of wood complexity Westland is able to achieve in six years. Truly remarkable. And while anchored in more of a Scotch-like profile, it’s unlike any malt whisky I’ve ever tasted. I suppose that’s the tequila cask doing its job. Whatever it is, there’s an almost indescribable fruitiness to it – both sweet & savory at the same time. Perplexing. Compelling. Lovely.
If you’re curious why I’m writing about a Westland malt whiskey cask selection on my Wild Turkey focused blog, well frankly, I don’t blame you. But don’t worry. I’m not shifting my passion. I just wanted to share the good news, as this cask is currently available for purchase via my vendor partner Keg N Bottle (link below).
Keg N Bottle: Westland Cask 5700 “Symposium” | Please note, limited supply.
American malt whiskey is a growing spirits category, and Washington’s Westland Distillery is arguably the best of the bunch. As a Wild Turkey fan, I’m sure you’ve grown to favor the underdog, particularly those with bold, pioneering attitudes and genuine roots. That’s Westland. But you don’t have to take my word for it. If you haven’t already, give their whiskeys a try. It doesn’t have to be cask no. 5700. They have a range of expressions to explore. But I encourage everyone to take the time to venture out, even if it’s a single pour at your local watering hole. There’s a wide world of quality whiskey out there. Don’t be afraid to taste something new or different.
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