Westland Distillery A Pioneer In The American Single Malt Category

This article is sponsored by Westland.

Seattle’s Westland Distillery, founded in 2010 and acquired by Remy-Cointreau in 2017, brings a uniquely American voice to the world of single malt whiskey.

As the Pacific Northwest whiskey makers explore possibilities that have been ignored for generations, Westland has become the country’s leading producer of American Single Malt Whiskey.

The distillery uses the same basic ingredients and processes used for centuries by traditional Old World single malt producers. Yet, they work to create whiskeys that reflect the distinct qualities of its time, place and culture in the Pacific Northwest.

Westland American Single Malt

As the Pacific Northwest whiskey makers explore possibilities that have been ignored for generations, Westland has become the country’s leading producer of American Single Malt Whiskey. (image via Westland Distillery)

“We honor the central traditions of whiskey-making that have been in place for hundreds of years,” said Westland’s co-founder, Matt Hofmann. “But rather than trying to mimic the character of Scotch whiskey, our goal is to express our own unique sense of place and prove that America can produce single malts that can stand tall with the finest whiskies in the world.”

Hofmann said that single malt whiskey is the “pinnacle of all whiskey,” and that it’s considered the world’s whiskey. Going back to those fundamentals, Westland focuses solely on the new American Single Malt category.

He called this moment in time, as the American Single Malt category gains recognition, something rare and unique. “You have to go back a hundred, a hundred and fifty years since that’s happened. And Westland is making American Single Malt unique, something evocative of the Pacific Northwest.”

With the abundance of Pacific Northwest barley, malted grains from the Skagit Valley of Washington, Westland sees the possibilities and uniqueness of sourcing a truly local American Single Malt.

Even the peat comes from a bog near Olympia, Washington … something unique itself in the American Single Malt world.

Hofmann said when it comes to the PNW sourcing, it’s not just the whiskey’s ingredients, but “it’s also the people. There’s an American spirit here, a Western ethos. And we see the possibilities of pushing the envelope with whiskey.”

Westland’s single malt  expressions are distilled at the Seattle distillery from 100-percent malted barley and fermented with a unique Belgian Saison brewer’s yeast before maturing in one of a variety of cask types, including new American oak, ex-bourbon and ex-Sherry.

“From that foundational starting point,” Hofmann said, “each expression then offers a variation on our house style that departs from expected conventions of single malt whiskey, each in their own way.”

At the core of that style are unique approaches to barley, yeast and oak.


Inspired by Pacific Northwest beer culture, the use of roasted malts brings a wide range of flavors not usually found in traditional single malt whiskeys that rely solely on conventional pale malt.

In addition to using Pale Malt, Westland uses Pale Chocolate Malt, Munich Malt, Brown Malt and Extra Special Malt. The distillery is also working with local farmers and maltsters across Washington and with breeders at Washington State University’s Bread Lab, led by Dr. Steve Jones, to develop entirely new varieties of barley never before used in whiskey.

“Our aim is to create single malt whiskey that has a real sense of place. The prevailing dogma in our industry that barley doesn’t impact flavor is something we categorically reject,” Hofmann explained. “By breeding for flavor and not just yield we’re proving that claim false.”


Westland’s use of a unique Belgian Saison Brewer’s Yeast is quite a departure from tradition that contributes aromatics and notes of citrus, clove and red fruits during fermentation.


While Westland uses a variety of oak types, such as conventional ex-bourbon and ex-Sherry casks, they fill predominantly into virgin oak. More importantly, however, is the quality of that oak. Westland sources only slow-growth trees and air-dried staves as wine makers do rather than the more common kiln-dried oak the bourbon industry uses.

While these casks cost considerably more, the result is worth the expense as the high-quality oak has less tannins and brings sweetness and approachability to the whiskies.


Each of Westland’s American Single Malt whiskeys exhibit the fundamental intention of their house style: a balanced, grain-forward whiskey that honors tradition but also moves it forward in a new way. Westland’s whiskeys have been recognized globally, with each product in their core range receiving a score of 96 points or higher, and collecting a long list of awards. In 2016, the distillery was named Whisky Magazine’s World Craft Producer of the Year, and in 2018, Hofmann was named American Master Distiller of the Year and the distillery won American Single Malt of the Year at the Icons of Whisky Awards.

Westland American Single Malt Whiskey
(46% ABV, 750ml, $59.99 SRP)

The flagship Westland American Single Whiskey expression is the culmination of over 10 years pioneering a new category of whiskey that has put America on the global single malt map. This expression captures the essence of the Westland house style in one bottle. The grain bill is comprised of Washington Select Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Extra Special Malt, Pale Chocolate Malt, Brown Malt, and Bairds Heavily Peated Malt; the cask selection includes new American oak, used American oak, ex-Bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry casks. The resulting flavor profile offers aromas of custard filling, marionberry compote, maple brittle, and toasted marshmallow on the nose, the palate conveys almond nougat, crème brûlée, black tea, white flower petals, and malted milk balls.

The Outpost Range

Rooted in true provenance, the Outpost Range of American Single Malt Whiskeys reflects Westland Distillery’s core mission to push beyond the old world conventions of single malt. Launched in the fall of 2020, Westland goes beyond the limitations of the industry to pursue new possibilities in the form of three expressions that will be released annually: Garryana American Single Malt, Colere American Single Malt, and Solum American Single Malt.

Each whiskey explores a central raw ingredient in single malt whiskey with each name inspired by terroir. “In everything we do, we seek to express this sense of place, which is inherently progressive in the world of whiskey,” Hofmann said. “After a decade, our flagship whiskey stands now as an opening statement.”

Unlike the whiskeys in Westland’s flagship single malt, which are designed to be consistent in flavor profile, whiskeys in the Outpost Range are intentionally unique from year to year.

Garryana American Single Malt Whiskey
(50% ABV, 750ml, $149.99 SRP)

Garryana (named after the scientific name for the unique oak, Quercus garryana) explores Westland’s native species of Pacific Northwest oak in single malt whiskey. In addition to expressing provenance in whiskey, Garryana is an entirely new species of oak to the world of whiskey, where only a handful of oak species over the course of hundreds of years have been used for aging. To create this whiskey, Westland built an entire economy for sourcing this rare and protected raw material. Now in its fifth edition, Garryana stands as a widely acclaimed and anticipated annual release that demonstrates the new possibilities yet to be explored in single malt … the fifth edition was named Best American Single Malt in the 2021 World Whiskey Awards, American.

Colere American Single Malt Whiskey
(50% ABV, 750ml, $149.99 SRP)

Colere, from a Latin verb meaning “to cultivate,” represents leaving behind the well-trod territory of ubiquitous grains and venturing into the thousands of uncharted barley varietals whose flavor has yet to be considered. This expression represents a reconnection to agriculture for the whiskey industry.

In an industry that adheres to the belief that barley doesn’t impact flavor, Westland has worked for years with Washington State University’s Bread Lab, located in the Skagit Valley, local maltsters, and local farmers to develop new varieties of barley that prove otherwise. Westland’s work with these partners prioritize flavor in breeding barley varieties and more sustainable agricultural methods. In doing so, Westland positions itself as a thought leader in not only global single malt but also the future of agriculture more broadly.

To date, they have distilled over 20 different varieties of barley (which is more than the entire Scotch whisky industry combined), and they’ve committed nearly 40 percent of their annual production to these unique barleys.

Solum American Single Malt Whiskey
(50% ABV, 750ml, $149.99 SRP)

Latin for “soil,” Solum explores local peat in whiskey. Peated whiskey has long been a tradition in single malt, always relying on peat sourced in the U.K. As longtime fans of peated whiskey, Westland has pursued a vision for locally grown barley malted with locally harvested peat for nearly a decade. Since the supply chain for peated malt has never existed in this country, once again Westland built the economy from the ground up. For years now Westland has been sourcing peat from a bog 90 minutes away from the distillery in Seattle and using it to malt barley in Skagit Valley, allowing them to distill a peated whiskey with true provenance. This whiskey is planned for release in early 2023.

So, what does the future hold for Westland Distillery? Hofmann noted that in the next year, their single malt Solum, featuring PNW-sourced peat, will debut in March of 2023, something that’s been in the works for years.

In five years, he said he’d like to see American Single Malts be the star of every bar in America. Beyond that, Westland has plans for many more special editions and diversity in their single malt offerings. Hofmann said to “stay tuned!”


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