Monday, March 4, 2019

Review - Westland Garryana 2018 Edition 3/1

This whiskey is the third in a series of an annual special release from the American distillery of Westland. This series uses casks made from Quercus Garryana, a regional species of oak that grows in the Pacific NorthWest coastal states of America. The series are believed to be the first whiskeys matured using this type of oak for nearly a century.

This third edition has used Westland's classic style spirit (made using their 5-Malt combination of different barleys) and a small percentage of their peated malt spirit. As well as using the Garryana oak casks this whiskey also uses pockets of spirit matured in virgin oak, first-fill ex-bourbon, first-fill ex-Port and refill ex-Westland whiskey casks. These are then marreid together to create the final whiskey.

The Westland distillery is located in the SoDo district of Seattle in the west coast American state of Washington. It was established by Matt Hoffman in 2010, who wanted to set up a craft distillery near to his home town of Tacoma following a period of studying brewing and distilling at Herriott Watt University in Edinburgh. Westland has recently been taken over by drinks company Remy Cointreau and remains the only American whiskey distillery to produce only single malt.

The Westland Garryana 2018 Edition 3/1 was released at a strength of 112 Proof (56% ABV) and was priced at $150 US a bottle. There were just 1,638 bottles available and demand means that it is now sold out.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a deep golden yellow and the nose is immediate vibrant, bold and woody. There are aromas of bitter almond, vanilla, marzipan and custard powder. These mingle with further aromas of stewed apple, slightly musty and dusty spices (think of baking spice and cinnamon) and a pinch of icing sugar.

On the palate this whiskey has a warming and robust feel. The woody characteristic from the nose hits first giving a gripping mouth feel and a pleasant dryness. These notes evolve from freshly sawn oak to begin with to be more earthy and savoury towards the finish. There is also an initial sweetness that is heavy with vanilla and honey notes, plus a hint of ripe peach. These are tempered by the woodiness and developing notes of bitter orange and dried apricot. Towards the finish a hefty pinch of dried powdered spices come to the fore (imagine cinnamon, all-spice and a tiny bit of ginger), along with a hint of cardamom.

The finish quickly becomes very dry and very warming, especially after initial sweet notes of vanilla and dried apricot rapidly fade. Then the drying oakiness and savoury spiciness takes over and dominates. Hints of bitter orange and icing sugar appear right at the end to add extra complexity and depth.

What's the verdict? 
The Garryana 2018 Edition 3/1 is an interesting whiskey from Westland and one that shows the distillery is continue to push the boundaries of American whiskey. Not only is it a single malt, but it uses a regional variety of oak for maturation alongside an interesting combination of other casks.

It offers a wonderful mix of dusty and woody spices with a creaminess and sweetness. This Garryana is very good at its full strength and enjoyable to drink. The only down side is that with a splash of water this whiskey struggles. It is softer and the influence of the wood diminished, but a stewed green vegetal note appears that takes it in a slightly difficult direction.

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