An American single malt whiskey really shouldn’t be a surprising notion to anyone anymore. Scotland and, to a recent extent, Japan, no longer have an iron rule over this popular category now that the world has started to discover fine alternatives coming from the rest of the globe.
But what makes Seattle-based Westland Distillery stand out is how it embraces its nation’s archetypes to create whiskeys of an inimitable nature. The US has made superb bourbons and craft beers for centuries, so why not borrow some of that know-how?
Rather than use a standardised type of malted barley and let blending and cask maturation do the rest, Westland Distillery has chosen to focus on the raw materials first, using a mix of five types of malted barley that have been roasted to different levels for maximum flavour diversity – a trick brewers have been employing for centuries.
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The distillery also chooses Belgian brewer’s yeast over distiller’s yeast. While the former takes longer to ferment (which means lower yields), it helps to balance the malt components with notes of citrus and spice. And while the distillery does use seasoned casks, it does also display a significant inclination toward new American oak casks — a signature of bourbon. What all of this translates into is a range of whiskeys made with no shortcuts or ties to tradition.
Those interested in seeing what unhindered experimentation tastes like can try the three editions that have finally made their way to Singapore: the Westland American Oak, Westland Sherry Wood and Westland Peated.