If you’re looking to venture away from Scotland for a reliable, rich, single malt, you might not think of America’s Pacific Northwest as the go-to source. And yet Westland Distillery, housed in Seattle, has produced a truly tasty expression distilled entirely from barley grown in Washington state. This offering is quite reminiscent of an un-peated Scotch—with a grain bill composed of five different roasted and kilned malts. However, additional Belgian brewer’s yeast, lends an extra edge during the development (traditionally, distiller’s yeast is used), as well as specialty malts, before aging in new American Oak casks. The region has made a name for itself in the craft-brewing world, from beer to coffee. Westland Distillery is well on its way to making whiskey an equally important presence—especially with a wider distribution partnership from SF’s celebrated Anchor Distilling Company.
“We looked at it with a fresh point of view,” explains Master Distiller, Matt Hofmann. “We were looking at the different types of malts you can use—these speciality malts that nobody has really explored yet. It’s the same thing with the yeast. We use brewer’s yeast instead of distiller’s yeast for the flavor it offers.” As for process, he begins by examining the flavor profiles of all potential components and builds a final product in his mind. “We want to take these things and push them in a new direction,” he continues. “We’re playing by the same rules as those in Scotland—it’s the same three ingredients—but there’s so much that’s untapped. We do not want to replicate. We want to make an American single malt.” Hofmann has crafted a very creamy spirit—an almost custard-like extension of vanilla. Coupled with nuttiness and even a little bit of coffee, it’s a complex tipple, but very easy to imbibe.
Westland Distillery’s American Single Malt Whiskey is available for purchase online in the state of Washington, and it will be rolling out to liquor stores nationally this month for the suggested price of $79.
Photos by David Graver