Last October, Seattle’s Westland Distillery looked to assess how their single malts, and those from around the world, measure up against each other and against the original Scotch.
The American distiller launched The Judgement of Westland, a series of blind tastings held around the world featuring the same four single malts from four distinct global regions.
The Judgement concluded on Feb. 3rd with its final blind tasting, and the results are in. Foremost, the campaign demonstrated that all fine single malts, regardless of where their distilleries sit on a map, are to be equally considered.
Matt Hofmann, co-founder of Westland, said this event was inspired by the wine world’s famed Judgement of Paris, a blind tasting hosted in 1976 by a British wine merchant that pitted New World wineries of California against the vaunted Bordeaux Chateaux of France.
The Judgement of Westland blind tasting events engaged nearly 2,000 whiskey enthusiasts, connoisseurs, and media. Attendees contributed their assessments digitally via QR codes at each tasting using a five-star rating system.
The results? The U.S. and Australia both achieved 3.4, Scotland secured 3.3, and India rated 3.1.
“More than 10 years ago, we set out with the firm belief that we could make compelling single malt here in Seattle,” Hofmann said. in a prepared “We had a belief that this place, one of the best barley-growing climates in the world, would stand toe-to-toe with the famous whiskies of Scotland, even though our approach was different.”
Upon hearing the scores coming in and the final ratings, Hofmann said he felt a relief.
“Now, for the first time in a structured way, we could do this with nearly 2,000 whiskey fans in multiple countries and could demonstrate that single malt from around the world has something to add to the greats from Scotland. What an incredible moment. The future is as bright as ever for Westland and the world of single malt whiskey,” he added.
To create the Judgement of Westland project, whiskey luminaries Dave Broom and Sam Simmons independently selected the featured single malts – which were not revealed to any participants – and designed the scoring system.
Their selections shared a common criteria: they were all widely, commercially available, were listed at similar price points, and none were cask strength or single cask bottlings.
Broom and Simmons specifically designed the scoring system so that the whiskeys were rated out of five stars and not to be ranked in order but rather graded individually on their own merits.
Founded in 2010 in Seattle, Westland Distillery distills, matures and bottles its single malts in the Pacific Northwest. You can find out more about their distillery and whiskeys at www.westlanddistillery.com.
Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether...