Westland Garryana – a new and true innovation in the world of single malt

 

Region – Seattle, Washington – 56.2% ABV

Not to be confused with Gary, Indiana…

Westland GarryanaWestland’s new Garryana single malt is a deep dive into the exploration of a new type of oak that few have used before. That oak is conveniently named after the whisky at hand (or is that vice versa? I think it’s vice versa. I’m sure of it. Yup, vice versa).

All single malt producing countries have access to  oak casks for maturing their whisk(e)y. The good bulk of those oak casks comes from right here in the US of A. The oak used to make said casks is called American White Oak.

(There’s a fancy schmancy Latin name for it, too, but I’m not that fancy schmancy so I’ll just stick with “American White Oak.” Plus, I failed Latin in my senior year of high school – Mrs. Whatsherface had it out for me. I didn’t want to fish for Carpe in that Diem pond, I told her!)

European Oak casks are quite common, too. You’ll find those are more widely used in whiskies that were matured using sherry casks (though there’s a lot of sherry matured in American White Oak, too).

Now, Japan is lucky. They have their very own Mizunara Oak which is quite loverly but who the heck can afford Japanese whiskies these days, not to mention Japanese whiskies matured in Mizunara Oak which is VERY leaky.

The French have their oak, too. That’s called French Oak. How convenient. That oak offers up nice, spicy flavors to whiskies.

Because we’re America, and apparently the winningest (or so we like to say over and over and over again) we’ve got another type of oak that grows specifically in the Pacific Northwest that is suitable for maturing whisk(e)y.

This oak is called Garry Oak, or, Garryana.

Having visited the Westland distillery a few times, and having once been in their warehouse, I had the luxury of tasting some single cask Garry Oak matured Westland. It was intense, for sure, but damn unique and quite delicious.  Westland has now been maturing single malt in a good number of Garryana casks and this release is the result.

Given the intense flavor profile of Garryana matured single malt, it makes sense that the use of this component makes up 21% of the over all mixture. The malt used in the Garryana casks, btw, is Washington Pale Malt. The rest is:

  • 26% Peated Malt (New Charred American White Oak)
  • 10% Washington Pale Malt (used American White Oak)
  • 43% Five Malt blend (New Charred American White Oak)

If you want to learn more about this wonderful single malt whiskey and the process of Garryana discovery, be sure to check out this Podcast:

Also, if you have a few minutes, be sure to watch this video (it’s beautifully shot, cool, informative, and fun):

Finally, without any further ado, my review of this new whisky from Westland Distillery. ***Spoiler Alert — it’s fantstic through and through***

On the nose — Chocolate, to be sure, but I expect that note given Westland’s use of Chocolate malt in their Five Malt mashbill.

Westland GarryanaDeep sweet notes of burnt sun dried tomatoes, crushed raisin with sugar and balsamic, sticky smoke, and herb rubs – like cleaning the BBQ sauce off your grill at the start of Grilling season.

Back to the more chocolatey notes, hints of mocha or cappuccino with a side of red velvet cake. Newly opened tin of oil paint tubes.

Also a swirl of melting and toasted, yet milky caramel.

Westland GarryanaIn the mouth — We’ll begin with the smoke but that’s immediately followed up with German brown bread and a side of carrot cake, cream cheese frosting and all.

Sweet meets ashy meets savory meets sweet again. The mouthfeel is oily verging on succulent – it’s big.

Westland GarryanaOn to the spices of ginger, nutmeg, and clove. I want to say smoked paprika but I wont. Forget I typed that, forget you read it. No, put it back in there. Smoked paprika.

White pepper, too.

Westland GarryanaAs we near the finish, that German brown bread makes it self be known again. This time with a raisiny fervor!

Finish — Long with a sweet yet smoky – like BBQ sauce with an umami-esque goodness.

In sum — This is one of the finest single malts I’ve had this year, hands down. Top 5 for sure. This is not only ticking all of the boxes as far as what I long for in a single malt, this has created new boxes I never even thought to look for.

**Special thanks to the good folks at Westland Distillery for the sample!!

Westland Garryana

Four Kings Rye 2014 Edition – A collaboration between FEW Spirits, Journeyman, Corsair, and Mississippi Distilling

 

Region – Four different ‘Murrican locations – ABV 40%

fourkings-whiskey-bottle
Image stolen/pilfered/thieved/snatched from Jonathan Bray’s Single Malting blog

My life, for the past 12 years, has brought me to Chicago for various and sundry reasons. Mostly, it was my previous life in the world of Industrial Storage Supplies and the sales thereof. Yessir/ma’am, sexy, sexy stuff, that; Industrial Storage Supplies. Don’t hate it until you’ve hated it. The people were great though. Nay, amazing. But… it’s Industrial Storage Supplies. Industrial. Storage. Supplies.

As of late, my reasons for visiting the Windy Apple are those more related to whisky. Be it the education and sales of Arran/Kilchoman/Tamdhu and some of my favorite independent lines and/or Whisky Jewbilee and/or Single Cask Nation. My visits to Chicago will continue on for some time and for that I am happy.

This most recent trip to Chicago (which has now been many weeks ago, damn my being too busy to write these days!) had me bumping into my friend (or should I say “mate,” but not in the “mate for life” sense of the word. My friend is an “Aussie.” But not in the shampoo sense of the word — an actual, honest to goodness man from Australia.) Jonathan Bray.  Some of you may know him from his fantastic “singlemalting.com” blog.  

This most recent bump into Jonathan gave us the good and cheap excuse to try our hand at blogging together. The result will be two different whiskies reviewed on two different blogs for the total of four posts (two from me, two from Jonathan).

Today’s post covers a fun collaboration between four major craft whiskey producers: FEW Spirits, Journeyman, Corsair & Mississippi Distillery.  This is their “Rye” collaboration (four 30 gallon casks from each of them blended together for a 40% ABV trip into rye craftism).

The following is my take on the result (you can read Jonathan’s review of the whiskey HERE):

Four Kings Rye Few Spirits Corsair Journeyman Mississippi DistillingOn the nose — Perhaps one of the more odd notes I’ve detected in a whisky: imitation watermelon bubblegum verging on jolly rancher.

Yup, you read correctly. 

Breath deeply and some more chocolaty notes come to the fore.  I could fool myself into thinking I smell some malted rye in here but I can not say for certain. If so, the presence is slight (which I am thankful for as it’s only adding to the nose).

Four Kings Rye Few Spirits Corsair Journeyman Mississippi DistillingBanana milk shakes and circus peanuts.  Seems to be more spirit & yeast driven rather than cask driven.

In the mouth — There’s the rye spice you’d expect though it’s *immediately* offset by notes of circus peanuts and Four Kings Rye Few Spirits Corsair Journeyman Mississippi DistillingFortune bubble gum – cheap penny candy store candies that bring me back to 1985. 

Mouthfeel is lightly oiled and the heat is spot on.

Somewhat unidimensional with the candied notes but I like this dimension. It’s quite tasty and perhaps a little *too* easy.

If you’re looking for the pine/fennel/spicy/rye bread notes you’d come to expect in a rye, look elsewhere. It’s an entirely different kind of flying rye whiskey all together.

Finish — Shortish finish, slightly drying, banana laffy taffy.

In sum — This is a great little blend of a whiskey. It’s a no brainier whiskey.  I was afraid the ABV would feel al little too low but it does not. Still, I wonder, at 46% or higher…

Glenmorangie’s 2016 Special Edition “Milsean”

 

Region – North Highlands – ABV – 46%

I’ve got very little time today to preamble before tasting.  However, let me tell you a Knock-Knock Joke:

Joke Teller: “Knock Knock”

Joke participant: “Who’s there?”

Joke Teller: “Control Freak. Now, this is where you say ‘Control Freak who?'”

Joke participant: “…”

…and laughter fills the room!

Today I’m tasting Glenmorangie’s Milsean and, spoiler alert, it’s fantastic juice.

Glenmorangie Milsean

On the nose — Quite crisp, almost piercing on the nose, all without being hot.

Fresh off the press, and wet, copper pennies. Peach – hard but not underripe. Some nice wood effect that tricks you into thinking there’s a bit of peat in here.

Glenmorangie MilseanAfter a few minutes the nose really softens to ripe peach, banana and strawberry taffy, candied orange peels and a Mai Tai on a beach in Honolulu.

After another few minutes I detect this wonderful sour sugared candies note (think Sour Patch Kids), vanilla and a hint of shaved coconut.

In the mouth — Boat loads of chewy and citrusy candies.

Glenmorangie MilseanAlso, fresh fruits such as honey dew melon, Santa Claus melon, and nectarine. Cover these in Wagamama chili oil and you’ve got something here!

Vanilla fondant, more chili oil, cooked butter with brown sugar over vanilla ice cream. Great mouthfeel here, folks. Just great.

Finish — Nice long finish with a handfuls of of melon Hi-Chews and sweet cream.

In sum — Surely not a whisky for all occasions but one to go for when you’re looking to celebrate and indulge yourself. It’s both dangerously easy to drink and gives you a lot in your glass to dissect. I’ve always been pro-Glenmorangie and this does not change my position, it only strengthens it.

Well done, Billy Lumsden!

Many thanks to DAMB for the sample!
Special thanks to IA for the joke!

High West’s Yippee Ki-Yay (motherf#cker), batch no. 1

 

Region – Distilled in Indiana, matured and extra matured in Utah – ABV – 46%

High West and her various sourced ryes were the first ryes I got into when I started getting serious about American spirits.

Back then, High West had some 16 & 21yo ryes which were all over store shelves and at pretty decent prices. A bit later on I discovered their Rendezvous Rye (which is a staple here at Chez Hatton), and then even further on I found a truly ballsy one: Double Rye!

David Perkins of High West is quite open about sourcing whiskey and blending it in house. In today’s day and age where stories of “grandpa’s famous recipe has been discovered” are built around sourced hooch, it’s good to know there are people like David Perkins who will not use smoke and mirrors. Rather, he ensures High West is transparent and focuses on the blending techniques and extra maturation processes to make his whiskeys stand out amongst the rest.

High West Yippee Ki-Yay Batch 1Today we’ve got a distillery only bottling called “Yippee Ki-Yay” in glass.  The details (taken from highwest.com) are as follows:

TTB designation: A Blend of Straight Whiskies 
• Proof: Bottled at 46 %ABV
• Ratio of component whiskeys: top secret!
• Not chill filtered
•Marriage of two straight rye whiskies
•The 2-year-old
•95% rye
•5% barley malt mashbill (LDI now MGP) 
•The older rye has a “barely legal” rye mashbill of:
•53% rye
•37% corn (Barton Distillery)
•Barrel type: Oak barrel that previously held Vermouth Barrel (Vya, Madera, CA), Oak barrel that previously held Qupé Syrah (Qupé Santa maria, CA)

The extra maturation in Vermouth and Qupé Syrah casks is unique and sounds amazing to me.

Color — Somewhere between Rainwater Madeira and a 10+ yr Madeira

On the nose — The backbone is pure LDI/MGP Rye. Think pine cones and pickles.

High West Yippee Ki-Yay Batch 1Surrounding this are layers of cinnamon buns, strawberry sauce, melted butter on spelt bread toast, hints of dry vermouth and dill infused apple cider vinegar (if there were such a thing), dark chocolate, licorice all-sorts. Very herbaceous as well.

This is both very rye-like and very un-rye-like at the same time. A bit of a conundrum, if you will.

High West Yippee Ki-Yay Batch 1In the mouth — Massive spice and dark fruits such as prunes, blackberries, black maraschino cherries, and fresh red plums. Salted, chocolate covered caramels.

All this is sitting on a foundation of pickling spices (mustard seed, caraway, dill weed). The mouthfeel is lush and satisfying.

Finish — A long, vermouthy finish with hints of cracked black pepper.

In sum — This is like a port that used rye whiskey for fortification rather than brandy. This is the ultimate dessert dram. Not a rye for everyone as it’s a departure from the category, but if you have an open mind, you will LOVE this.

I know I did. It’s gorgeous stuff.

Amrut single cask bottled for WhiskyBase, first fill bourbon, cask # 3434

 

Amrut WhiskyBase ShopRegion – Bangalore, India – ABV – 62.8%

True story:

A handful of months back my company bottled a 5yo single cask of Amrut under our Single Cask Nation label (as of 4th Jan, 2016, we still have a handful bottles left, btw).

Around this time, a single cask of Amrut was bottled for the WhiskyBase shop out of the Netherlands.

Back in November 2015, Serge Valentin over at the wonderful whiskyfun.com reviewed 6 different Amruts. Both our bottling and the WhiskyBase bottling were amongst the reviews and we both captured the highest rating of 89 points!

As far as Serge’s reviews go, 89 points is pretty damn high. Not too often does Serge give a 90+ rating. We were chuffed and obviously the WhiskyBase chaps were, too.

If you’re new to whiskyfun.com, where have you been?! Go there now. Read, learn, have fun!

Anywho, just after Serge’s review, we and WhiskyBase chatted over the interwebs and agreed upon a bottle trade.

The end.

Review time — I hope they enjoyed the Single Cask Nation Amrut as much as I enjoyed theirs:

Amrut WhiskyBase ShopOn the nose — Loads of caramel and toffee. Quite nutty, too.  Caramel covered almonds. Yum!  Moscato soaked apricots.

This is quite heavy (and dark, too. Much darker than you would think for a 5yo ex-bourbon cask).  Boatloads of vanilla, Kahlua, and dulce de leche. Holy heck, this smells wonderful.

Water brings out some brighter elements such as pear and quince.

In the mouth — Much hotter in the mouth than it is on the nose. This needs a touch of water.

Just five drops of water tames this whisky.  Cheap Oolong tea (but in a great, familiar, and comforting way), big spice on the sides of the tongue. Great oily mouthfeel.

Amrut WhiskyBase ShopHints of chicory and cornus kousa fruit (I have a cornus kousa dogwood in my front yard).  More vanilla and a fair amount of roasted almond pieces.

Finish — An interesting turn of events with notes of mandarins and golden raisin. Long and spicy, too.

In sum — This is up there with some of my favorite Amruts. This one seems to be an atypical example of Amrut but it’s damn good. I will be nursing this bottle for years to come.

I drink booze, and sometimes I talk about it.