Westland Garryana 2016 Ed. 1
I recently had a discussion with a master blender, and we discussed the difference between your average whiskey geek and whiskey drinker. The end result was that your average whisky drinker doesn’t really understand what goes into their whiskey.
When I was more foolish and less correct than now, I used to be disgusted at the inclusion of “sour mash” on something. I thought that denotes a lack of quality. It was later that I found out how incorrect I was, and that in fact helps keep consistency.
Thus the idea of yeast and wood came up. Yes, the types of grain and the area in which you age the whiskey is important as well. We don’t see anyone discuss yeast other than Four Roses. And frankly, that’s for us geeks. Wood though, wood is a marketer… wait, I already used wood in the sentence, how do I say boner here as a joke? Gushing sap. Wood is the marketers gushing sap. There, let’s be more inclusive to women and talk about when they are horny.
That brings us to Westland Garryana 2016 Ed. 1. The first-ever release of their experimentation with Garry Oak, aka Quercus garryana, aka that little bastard with the Raticate. Wait, no, a different one. This is the tree. Less anger-inducing.
This Pacific Northwest oak used to be part of an extensive hardwood forest in British Columbia. Now Westland works by planting these trees in the hopes of learning more about it and increasing the amount of Garry Oak in Washington state. The tree, according to a BC website I found, is quite common in Oregon. But we don’t want to go there, what with the hipsters.
Not to mention they used it to make whiskey, which is why you’re reading this. Unless you’re really, really into trees. So let’s see how this hard to find oak makes of a whisky, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask type: Garry Oak Casks (Quercus garryana)
Age: 3 years
Number of bottles: 2,500
Colour: 7.5YR 5/10
Nose: Nectarine, toffee, gravel
The nose on this is young. It takes time for more than just stone fruit to come out. I could go on about stone fruit trees. However, I think we’ve learned enough about trees today.
Gets earthier with time and water. End of the day, the nose still needs some time.
Taste: Honey, tangerine, cinnamon, raspberry, cocoa, BBQ smoke
I love honey tangerines. That’s a combination that exists in fruit and exists here, thus I’m happy. A lot is going on here. Spice, raspberry, sweet earth.
It’ really odd to go back to nosing this after tasting. It’s so gone, and then these big flavours on the taste.
Finish: Nectarine, cloves, pollen, cocoa, molasses, cinnamon
Oddly there’s even more of these forest notes of pollen and stone fruit. Also cinnamon is tree bark, but I live in North America, which in turn is the centre of all pop culture, so that doesn’t fit into my narrative.
So instead I’ll mention that more and more spice comes out with that.
Conclusion: Spice/BBQ Bomb. Keeps all of its secrets hidden at first, and then wham! Tons of interesting forest notes. If you think about it, BBQ is just you taking a forest and putting the tree part into the meat part that lived in it. Yes, you’re eating Bambi’s mom.
The nose is disappointing. I hope that improves with time. For now, the taste is honey tangerine with BBQ and the finish is a forest in full swing. I enjoyed those aspects, and hope that they are able to grow more Garry Oak with time and make this a regular thing.
Westland Peated American Single Malt is what you’d expect. It’s a single malt, they use peat, and the idea is to display the smoke and earth. However, there’s a slight difference happening in Washington.
No, there’s not a ghost showing up demanding their son take vengeance for their uncle marrying his wife and taking over the state. At least I don’t think they have. Given how American politics are going, maybe. No, instead of using 100% peated malt, like everyone else, they peat some of their malt, and then use a majority non-peated malt. So we have their five-malt spirit recipe in the mash bill and then on top of that, they use less than normal peated. Finally, they ferment it for 144 hours, use Belgian Brewer’s Yeast, and then age this in New American Oak casks (Cooper’s Select and Reserve) and First Fill Ex-Bourbon casks, where it’s matured for at least 36 months.
Also holy damn people, nice amount of information on their website. I’m really impressed, they are doing it right.
But how does it taste? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 5Y 7/8
Nose: Peat, black tea, nectarine, brown sugar
Well, it’s peated. And that amazing in-depth analysis brought to you by TOModera! Whisky geek!
Joking aside, we have a bit amount of peat with black tea/tannins behind it, and then some stone fruit and brown sugar. It’s not blowing my mind, but it’s nice to the nose.
Taste: Peat, peach drink, gummy candy, cinnamon
More peat. I know you come here for these amazing word soups.
More stone fruit, however, it’s really quite sweet here. Lots of fruit juice/candy notes. Eventually the peat and sweet get along and we get cinnamon.
Finish: Brown sugar, cinnamon, thyme, apple
Finish takes a baby step into rum-like territory with more brown sugar and cinnamon. Nice amount of herbal/floral and apple.
Conclusion: An all-around nice dram to sip on. The youth mixed with the fact this works really well is in and of itself impressive.
No, you’re not going to find the new holy grail of peated whisky. What you are going to find is something that’s a good daily sipper with peat that was aged up quicker than most can do it. There are some fine flavours here, and it’s a nice dram.
Bourbon review #238-9, Washington review #2-3, Whiskey Network review #1552-3