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Friday, December 27, 2019

Westland single malt, cask 4358

The last pair of Westlands I tried had multi-maturations, and that's all they had in common. Today's whiskey is a single cask. Monday's whiskey will be......its own thing.

Released this year for distillery visitors, cask 4358 came from just the Washington Pale Malt, was first matured in a former rye cask and then finished in an Oloroso hogshead. That rye and Oloroso combo sounded intriguing, if done well. And I've had little reason to doubt Westland's single cask skills thus far.

Distillery: Westland
Region: Seattle, Washington
Age: 57 months
MashbillWashington Pale Malt
Yeast: Belgian Saison Brewer’s Yeast
Fermentation: 144 hours
Maturation: ex-rye cask, then an oloroso hogshead
Cask #: 4358
Release: March 2019
Outturn: 200 bottles
Alcohol by volume: 59.4%
(from a bottle split)

Sure enough, the nose first reads like a rye aged in an Oloroso cask. There are nuts, raisins, peppercorns and brine. Despite the lack of peated malt, the whisky has a definite smoke note. Notes of VOC fumes and envelope glue mix with lemon candy in the background. The rye recedes with time (and never returns), as prunes take over. Sherry buries everything in the palate, like a baby Kavalan, wit both a PX sweetness and an Oloroso nuttiness. Prunes, black raisins, a hint of soy sauce. Bits of citrus, smoke and ginger ale. Some bitter oak. And it's hotter than expected. The savory and sweet finish carries black raisins, black pepper and drying tannins.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Mostly sherry in the nose. Prunes, black raisins, milk chocolate, maple and plenty of ethyl. The palate is sweeter, and gains the familiar mocha note. Some maple syrup too. Otherwise it's all grape jam and chocolate-covered raisins. The finish remains mostly the same, but picks up metallic and salt notes.

Per the official page: "The whiskey, prior to finishing, was remarkably developed considering the time spent in cask."

Then why suffocate it with this sherry cask finish? The spirit's character is absent 95% of the time, and the rye cask makes itself known for maybe 15 minutes in the nose. This results in a generic aggressively sherry-finished single malt, something the scotch market is already flooded with. As I'd mentioned previously, the world's whisky market is sadly short on rye cask single malts. It would have been fun to try this particular whiskey before it was finished off.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 79