American Single Malt r/Bourbon Cask Selection
It’s been a bit since I reviewed an American Single Malt. My focus and interests have shifted over the past year but these 2021 selections have slowly been enjoyed every now and then. I’ve taken my time with this one because I felt like it was truly special. I’m a fan of oloroso whiskies and after sampling cask #775, it made me very interested in everything else from Westland.
Westland uses a 5 malted barley mash bill with this single barrel wholly matured for 5 years and 8 months in a first-fill Oloroso casks. Selected for r/bourbon in mid 2021, it was bottled at 108.4 proof.
Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 10+ minutes of rest. Dilution added throughout the tasting with additional rest upwards of an hour for comparison. These notes encompass from the first cork pop to bottle kill.
No nuance with the nose of this whiskey as it’s immediately clear this is a wine cask. The barley and cask create an intensely fortified sweet wine aroma. Red grapes, currants, and raisins. Musty lactic notes of semi-sweet milk chocolate. Hazelnuts and pecans. Pie crust, oatmeal cookies, and shortbread. Fermenting fruit in mead or an ice cold lambic beer in the summer. Adding just a touch of water brought out a wonderful clementine scent. Sweet and a bit spicier on the nose with some nutmeg and light anise notes. Richer dark chocolate aromas now along with maple oak and syrup.
The first sip brings a warming embrace of those alcohols with an earthy flavor that builds on the palate. Walnuts and equally dense tobacco leaves. Leather and oak wood handles. The lactic quality turns towards baked bread with some sourdough toast and Nutella. The fruit is still prominent with a fig cookie flavor. Water lifts a very pleasant oak and again it reminds me of maple. Heat intensifies as well, carrying quite a capsaicin kick.
Full on dark cocoa powder finish like a cocoa powdered bonbon. The fruit carries all the way through to the finish and ends with a wonderful blackberry preserves flavor. Enjoyable wine and oak stay with you on the palate where the fruit and cocoa fade more quickly. Lastly, a cola-esque flavor that’s hard to describe. Like a 50:50 blend of diet cola and store brand rootbeer. Very focused composition and there’s not much to dislike here.
This is easily the best selection of the three that were released. Everything works in harmony with tiny fluctuations standing out bringing complexity to the spirit.
The lambic sour notes could turn folks off. One night I pushed the dilution point too far and the whiskey tasted like watered-down cough syrup. Those base notes are present in the whiskey just other flavors supersede them with little to no dilution. It helps if you are a fan of sherry cask whiskies as this brings some of the boldest representations of oloroso casks. It’s a true but balanced sherry bomb.
This whiskey has set the for all other American single malts for me now. It’s absolutely delightful and I will be grabbing any full-maturation oloroso single casks from Westland when I find them.