I have been looking forward to finding, buying and tasting Westland Whiskey for about a year now. I think I stumbled on a blog or something that sparked my interest, because the “Westland” is also an area in the Netherlands where Tulips are Grown.

I checked out some interviews with the head distiller, Matt Hofmann, of Westland, while he gave a tour of the place. The interview was held by “The Whisky Guy – Ari Shapiro”. You can find the channel of Ari Shapiro here.

Ever since I have being trying to find out if a “Sherry” influence is actually, for the most parts, a New American Oak influence, I have been trying to find USA single malt to compare Scottish Single Malts Ex Sherry matured with. I will do so eventually.

The first single malt I found was one by Corsair Distillery, the Triple Smoke. I’m on my second bottle as I write this blog.  I compared it to a Classic Laddie.

The second single malts I found at the Westland Distillery in Seattle. They however use a mixed mash-bill of malted barley, where they don’t vary the grain (corn/oat/rye/etc), but the way the barley has been malted. The video above is very informative about that.

After some checking online I found at least four outlets of Westland Single malts in the Netherlands. One is an excellent shop in the north of the Netherlands that is call “Dramtime“. This place has an amazing stock and ships internationally, also to the USA.

Anyway, I was in the area, on vacation and decided to pop in. I had been there before and I love this shop. Very knowledgeable people and excellent service. They still had a pack of the Westland tasting pack so I got one put aside. Had some whisky to taste from the, now burnt down, “Turv Exloo” distillery. I also put a Ardbeg Shorty Glass next to it, since I needed it for my blog glassware comparison. Oh, I also got a bottle of the 2007 Islay Barley by Bruichladdich.

Anyways, while on vacation I tried two of these drams. Than my daughter had an epileptic attack and I spend a night in the hospital with her. So now that the peace and quiet has returned I took time to compare these drams side by side.

I started with the “American Oak”, then the “Sherry wood” to finish with the “peated” version.

Now normally with Scottish Whisky I am under the impression that I know what I am nosing. I also sorta know what to expect with a bourbon or a rye. Here all that “knowhow” seems to mean bupcus when I put my nose in it. The combination of malt, oak and cask size seems to result in notes that my brain is not able to link to something I smelled before. So I made notes in my trusty RSWFW excel and below are the results.

n = nose / m = mouth

Head Sub Descriptors

Westland

American Oak

Westland

Sherry Wood

Westland

Peated

A: Peaty 2. Smokey Kippery

n m

A: Peaty 2. Smokey Smoked cheese

n

B: Grainy 1. Cereal Leathery

n

n

B: Grainy 2. Malt Malted barley

n

n

n

B: Grainy 2. Malt Wort

m

C: Grassy 1. Fresh Green Apple

n

C: Grassy 2. Dried Hay

n

C: Grassy 2. Dried Mint

n

D: Fruity 1. Solventy Nail varnish remover

n

D: Fruity 2. Orchard Peaches

n

D: Fruity 2. Orchard Pear

n

n

D: Fruity 3. Tropical Banana

n

D: Fruity 4. Citrus Orange

n

D: Fruity 4. Citrus Zest

n

D: Fruity 6. Dried Raisins

n

F: Feints 2. Cheesy

n

G: Woody Extractive 5. Nutty Almond/marzipan

m

G: Woody Extractive 6. Vanilla Ice cream

m

m

G: Woody Extractive 6. Vanilla Custard

n

G: Woody Extractive 6. Vanilla Cola

n m

G: Woody Extractive 6. Vanilla Chocolate

m n (on hand)

m

G: Woody Extractive 7. Spicy Clove

n

m

G: Woody Extractive 7. Spicy Cinnamon

n

n

G: Woody Extractive 7. Spicy Aromatic

n m

G: Woody Extractive 8. Caramel Coffee

m

G: Woody Extractive 8. Caramel Liquorice

m

m

G: Woody Extractive 9. Previous use Bourbon

n

L. Oily 1. Soapy Waxy

n

L. Oily 2. Buttery Creamy

n

n

L. Oily 4. Fat Fatty

n

L. Oily 4. Fat Fish oil

m

P. Primary taste 1. Bitter

mild

P. Primary taste 2. Salt

mild

m

P. Primary taste 4. Sweet

m

m

Mouth effect 1. Astringent Drying

n

Mouth effect 1. Astringent Powdery

n

m

Mouth effect 2. Coating Oily/creamy feeling

m

m

Mouth effect 3. Warming Fiery

m

Nasal effect 1. Pungent

n

n

Nasal effect 2. Drying

n

As you may have noticed the notes are all over the place and some notes I would expect I did not get.

What I got from the “Sherry” was something I found on a young malt before and I would describe it as “Soapy” / “Solventy”. Not your typical note you would like to find. The typical berry notes and nutty notes you would expect with a sherry matured dram, I did not find, or they were overpowered by the cask influence. I will have to put it side by side with a sherry matured malt I have to see if and how they correlate.

The American oak version gave me bourbon-like notes. Hence the n in “ex-bourbon”. There was a chocolate influence which could originate from the “chocolate malt” but not sure about that my self. Lack of know how probably 😉

The peated version I had to really take my time with. The nose did not scream “peat” to me like one would get with an Ardbeg, Laphroaig or a Port Charlotte. It did however give me smoked cheese and smoked fish notes. They are in the “peaty” section too, but in another way.

To sum up this experience. I seem to lack words to describe the things I smelled and tasted. I am sitting here a tad puzzled. This says more about me than it does about the quality of this spirit. I think this all means that I had to tasted these in order to find out that I am lacking. I am lacking means that I feel I am lacking. In know-how. Or my brain is not used to the malts and flavours these malts give. Should I get chocolate malted beers to see correlation? I think Klaus Doblmann would scream “Ja!”.  Any advice Klaus?

Addition 8th of August 2017

Klaus Doblmann responded both in response to this blog and also on Twitter with information about chocolate malt and how it would dominate the flavour of a beer when used in to high a % of the mash bill. Thanks Klaus!

I had no idea what the mash bill for Westland is, so I asked on Twitter. Westland responded.

img_2057

This mash bill is true for the American Oak malt. So the mash bill is:

  • 70% Washington Pale Malt,
  • 12% Extra Special Malt,
  • 10% Munich Malt,
  • 4% Brown Malt,
  • 4% Pale Chocolate Malt.

Since these malts are mostly used for brewing beer. So I will check out the types of beers that are made with these malts. I will also try and see what flavours these beers have. Maybe this will tell me something that would explain the flavours and aroma’s I found on these drams.

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