Whiskey Review: Westland Peat Week (2016) - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Westland Peat Week (2016)

Editor’s Note: A sample of this whiskey was provided to us by those behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, keeps full independent editorial control over this article.

Founded about six years ago, Seattle’s Westland Distillery has emerged as a leader in the growing American Single Malt category. Best-known for its commitment to partnering with local grain growers, maltsters, and even coopers, Westland does everything it can to showcase the unique terroir of the Pacific Northwest, an environment it says is ideal for the production of Scottish-style single malt whiskey. And it is true—there’s definitely something Scotland-like about the misty maritime air and cool temperatures of Puget Sound.

Inspired by the Scots, Westland has gained particular recognition for their peated whiskeys, which are made with a portion of barley peated with Scottish peat. Westland also has its very own peat bog in Shelton, Washington, and they’ve already harvested peat to dry barley for whiskeys, although their estate-peat whiskeys aren’t expected to hit the market for a few years.

Westland Peat Week

image via Westland

In the meantime, to celebrate their love of peat, Westland throws an annual party called Peat Week. It’s a full week of events, parties, and dinners, capped off with the release of a commemorative Peat Week special release. 2016’s Peat Week is behind us (October 11-16), but I’m hoping to make a trip up for next year’s event.

This year, for their third annual Peat Week release, Westland assembled a special vatting consisting of eight “fantastically peaty” specially selected casks. This whiskey was distilled on one of Westland’s two copper pot stills. Westland was kind enough to send us a review sample earlier this fall, packaged in a cute wooden box decorated with their circus-inspired Peat Week branding.

Tasting Notes: Westland Peat Week

Vital Stats: 100 proof, no age statement, available from the distillery only.

Appearance: Chardonnay

Nose: Lots of esters here – ripe speckled banana, fruit flavored gum, menthol. Very bright and clean smelling. At first the smoke elements are tucked away in the back, but after a few minutes they emerge: the peat character is rich and earthy, more soil than crackling fire.

Palate: Prickly and brash, I’m surprised at how rough-tasting this is. Big, billowy waves of barbecue-style sweet-savory smoke make for a flavor that’s almost meaty. I still notice some of those esters from the nose in the form of spiced whole grain banana bread, as well as some tropical fruit notes, like grilled plantains or pineapple.

There’s also a suggestion of sweetness—vanilla frosting, confectioner’s sugar. Water almost adds to the smoke, bringing it higher into the nose and adding a little astringency. A very light body means the finish is a little fleeting.

Final Thoughts & Score:

Score: 86/100

I expected intensity from Peat Week, but it’s a bit lighter than I expected. There’s a lot of fruit here. Where the peat is wet and earthy in the nose, it’s savory and wet on the palate. Fun and engaging to taste, but the finish is a little short and one-dimensional. Tasted next to the standard Westland Peated Single Malt expression, Peat Week seemed slightly thin by comparison – perhaps a function of a younger age? Regardless, a fun and tasty treat from this reliable craft distillery.