Whiskey Review: Westland Peat Week (2017) - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Westland Peat Week (2017)

By Jim Bonomo / November 25, 2017

Westland Distillery, operating quietly in the SoDo neighborhood in South Seattle, has been referred to as a “single malt temple.” That’s because head distiller Matt Hofmann and his team have been marrying traditional single malt techniques with Pacific Northwest inspiration for nearly five years now.

Referred to by Hofmann as “cultural terroir,” Westland uses grains from the Skagit Valley, Washington peat, and oak from the Northwest United States to create his modern interpretation of this classic style. And once a year for the last four, Westland participates in a celebration of smokiness referred to as “Peat Week,” which sees a similarly-titled special annual bottling from the bog-inspired distillery.

We checked out their Peat Week bottling last year, and discovered a well-constucted-yet-delicate take on peated whiskey. This year, Westland brings us a unique single malt blend from two new oak casks and five second-use bourbon casks which incorporates Baird’s Heavily Peated Distillers Malt.

The whiskeys are aged somewhere between 36 and 54 months prior to blending, and were introduced to the world during this year’s Peat Week, with only 1,500 bottles hitting circulation. We were lucky enough to get our hands on a sample, and we’ll see if the peat screams louder in 2017.

Tasting Notes: Westland Peat Week 2017

Vital Stats: 108.8 proof. Made from 100% Baird’s Heavily Peated Distillers Malt. Aged 36-54 months in a combination of new oak and Bourbon casks. $99/750ml

Appearance: Peat Week pours a dull yet brilliant deep gold which thins out in color as the volume in the glass lessens. The liquid seems to quickly lighten as it reaches towards the thinner edges of my Glencairn. Legs drip slow and thin, yet the liquid doesn’t sit still or thick.

Nose: The first inhalations bring so many unique scents to the forefront of the palate without clunky confusion. Right away, a floral and sweet note of candied apricots appears front and center, which linger for a fraction of a second before the peat dominates. It doesn’t smack you with a boozy, chemical burn, but instead presents itself as the last remains of campfire embers.

The peat allows itself to work in tandem with the wood, showing notes of cocoa powder, hazelnut skins, and a slight herbal hint akin to coriander seed. Once my palate adjusts, the soft smoke and the stone fruit element, which eventually transforms into grilled peaches, bring me through the rest of the sipping experience.

Palate: The peat character seems amped up this year, but nowhere near overkill. The fruitier aromas transform tastewise in to a non-syrupy sweetness, which help to lift the smoke element and smooth over the rougher, ashier edges. Contact with used Bourbon barrels add vanillin complexity to the mix, which seems unexpected but not dominant enough to be off-putting. Once my palate adjusts, that spicy, marshmallowy note becomes the star of the show, adding an element of caramel popcorn to future whiffs.

This whiskey finishes long with marzipan, peat smoke, and a conspicuous lack of heat or astringency. After several minutes of imbibing cessation, a hint of soft plastic and iodine can be found lingering but in a strictly inoffensive way.

The Takeaway

As someone who is turned off by the more dominantly peaty whiskeys, I have found a sippable drink that brings the expected interest and complexity without destroying my palate or showing up as too one-note.

Peatheads may find too many hints of bourbon and not enough brain-smashing iodine or phenolics, but bourbon drinkers will indeed find one of the more layered hybrid beverages to explore in this bottle of Westland's Peat Week.

4.5
User Rating 3.22 (9 votes)
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