Tag Archives: Slight smoke

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

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 19 – Samaroli 1995 Miltonduff(man), cask # 2848

 

Region – Speyside – ABV – 45%

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On the nose — Very fresh, fruity, and jammy.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015A whiff of peat lurks beneath like a boat carrying passengers such as anise pizzelle cookies, gooseberries, acrylic varnish, fresh mustard seeds, and clementine compote with honey along the River Styx (I hope they have money for the boatman!).

In the mouth — Starts off quiet but as the mouthfeel begins to thicken, the clementine-like citrus note I got on the nose presents itself.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015Celery stalks, celery salt, and jicama, like being thrown through the CERN particle collider, smash into notes of kumquat, paraffin wax, white pepper, and asian pear.

Finish — Short to medium. Hints of white pepper and *maybe* a little more citrus.

In sum — A great whisky that you can either just sit and enjoy or pick apart. On a day like today, I wish I had more of this so I could just sit and relax!!

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 8 – Weymss Malts “Dark Treacle Fondant” Craigellachie 12yo, Cask # 900095

 

Region – Speyside – 46% ABV

Having one of the more difficult distillery names to pronounce, Craigellachie is a massive distillery located in the distillery-rich Speyside region of Scotland –  just a few miles from the Aberlour distillery.

This powerhouse produces 4.1 million litres of spirit per year (!!). After having toured the distillery this past May, I was surprised to see more references to the Dewars blend throughout the distillery as opposed to references to the actual distillery name itself. Then I reminded myself that the purpose of this production house was not for Single Malt (even though they just released some age statement whiskies – 13, 17, 19 & 23 years old). No, the purpose of Craigellachie is to provide malt whisky for your various Dewars products.

If you ever find yourself in Scotland, be sure to check out the Craigellachie distillery. Its massive production house factory-like feel acts as a great counterpoint to more classic style distilleries such as GlenDronach, Aberlour, Glenmorangie and many others.  After your visit to the distillery, head over to the Craigellachie Hotel for a dram or four.

IMG_6528On Advent Calendar Day # 8, we’ve got another malt bottled by Weymss Malts. And wouldn’t you know it? It’s a Craigellachie.

This one is titled “Dark Treacle Fondant.” Have a think on that name while we pour the whisky into our glasses.

One the nose — Oh, that name is so suggestive. It smells of cake fondant!  There’s even this waxy-like texture in the nose and the scents start off with dark chocolate and toasted brazil nuts.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015I am then hit by the smell of sweet barbecue sauce on the grill on the day you re-open your outside cooking apparatus.  Hints of licorice and hazelnut nougut rubbed with confectioners sugar.

In the mouth — Highly decedent stuff. While the mouthfeel is not super thick, the flavors sure are.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015Let the laundry list begin: Molasses,  Nutella, dark chocolate, rubber tires, burnt applesauce, old-school lickable stamps (the sticky side), fruit cake, candied orange peels, cloves, on and on, and on and on, and on and on (was that last bit grammatically correct? Was any of this grammatically correct?)

A little spice at the back of the throat: tell-tale sign of sherry butt matured whisky.

Finish — Really just a fading version o the favors I go on the palate.

In sum — If you like your sherried whiskies, the one would be right up your alley. It ticks all the boxes. The more I drink Craigellachie, the more I like it.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 7 – Samaroli 1997 Strathisla 18yo, cask # 47821

 

Region – Speyside – 45% ABV

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015Advent Calendar day # 7 brings us another Samaroli. You may recall the Samaroli blended malt we tasted in day 3. Cracking stuff (though a bit soft at 43% ABV).

Strathisla is a very classic Speyside whisky owned by Chivas Bros/Pernod Ricard. The regular bottlings of Strathisla are known to be dense and rich (with some good sherry cask maturation) but most of the juice goes into various Chivas blends.

Today’s dram is a Strathisla that spent 18 years in an American Oak bourbon barrel.  The color is incredibly light which tells me that this is a refill cask (3rd or 4th use, my guess).  The richness of the European Oak sherry cask will likely not be in here but let’s not assume (we all know what happens when we assume).

Let’s try it:

http://www.jewmalt.com/scotch-whisky-advent-calendar-dram-3-samaroli-glentauchers-benriach-19yo/On the nose — Light, delicate, floral… think white tea (Bai Mu Dan).  Some hints of sugary Smarties (the US version, not the UK version).

Candied lemon rind, focusing more on the candy and less on the lemon. Clean dry cardboard in the background.

In the mouth — Here’s where it ramps up a bit. Soft peat at the fore with an allspice backbone.

Fennel seeds and shaved fennel.  A touch sour in the mid palate and hints of fresh malted barley.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015Luxurious mouthfeel here.  Apple sauce with cinnamon and cayenne bring us to the finish.

Finish — That cayenne note is solid all the way through this long finish and sticks around as notes of peony and apple blossoms slowly fade away…

In sum — When longing for a Strathisla, I would not reach for this. When looking for a cracking dram that’s solid through and through regardless of origin, this one fits the bill.  This is like a complicated puzzle that, when assembled the way it is, presents a wonderful picture.  Great stuff people!

Exclusive Malts 28yo Longmorn, 1985, 51.6%

 

Region – Speyside – 51.6% ABV – $200-285 (if you’re lucky enough to find a bottle)

Exclusive Malts Longmorn 1985 28 year oldOk. Full disclosure. By day I work for the US importer of The Exclusive Malts line of independently bottled whisky, ImpEx Beverages.

Full disclosure pt.2. This whisky is no longer available, and was actually imported well before I started my position with ImpEx.

Being that I don’t actually score whisky but instead just present tasting notes and general impressions (and occasional dick jokes), I figured it’s kosher for me give you said tasting notes and general impressions on this release.

What is “Exclusive Malts?” It’s a line of single cask whiskies bottled by David Stirk of Creative Whisky Company.  The line is fairly new to the US market.

So, there you go.  Truthfulness. Information. And below? Tasting notes:

Longmorn Exclusive Malts 1985 28 years oldOn the nose — Honey, honey honey smoked honey! Caramels covered by orange oil rubbed cigar wrappers.

There’s a flinty minerality to this whisky that seems to enter my nose in the form of light peat (perhaps wood effect?).  Crushed chardonnay grapes sans the sweetness.

Aged (read: an oaky presence)  with a good bit of life to it (read: not a tired old 28yo but a whisky that has life, and vibrance).  There’s a waxy texture to the nose, and a hint of the powder you’d find on a bubblegum cigar.

On the mouth — Given the waxy mouth feel, some would confuse this with an old Clynelish or Brora. Given the fizzy quality that floats on the waxiness, some would doubt this was a 28yo whisky.  It’s a bit of a contradiction in the mouth, but a welcome one, to be sure!

Cacao nibs

There’s all sorts of soft spice and light tobacco notes mixed in with chili infused milk chocolate, cocoa nibs, and macca root.

 

 

Longmorn Exclusive Malts 1985 28 years oldThe pears, they are baked with whole anise star, and cinnamon’d walnut oil.

There’s an elegance to this whisky that is very much a Longmorn quality.

Finish – Beautifully floral yet grassy, mineral-y yet sweet, and quite looooooonnnnnggg…

In sum – This is a great example of Longmorn.  Perhaps the best Longmorn I’ve had to date. This is a treat to any whisky fan or whisky novice.  A celebratory whisky, if you will.