Westland New Make Spirits

It’s been awhile since my last post, but since it’s (barely) still my off-season, I haven’t had any exciting running adventures (just plain neighborhood mileage). But this weekend I did get a nice shot from our #OptOutside run on Friday led by the folks from Brooks Sports Headquarters in my neighborhood.

My favorite view from Gasworks Park.

It was a chilly day for Seattle (just above freezing), but we always welcome the sun! The forecast for this week appears to be our regularly scheduled rainy gloom, so this was a nice change of pace.

However, our regularly scheduled rainy gloom IS the perfect backdrop for sipping some delightful drams. Nothing is better on one of those dark and rainy evenings than nursing a whisky in a dry and cozy place while the wind howls.

Tonight we sampled some new make spirits from our favorite local distillery – Westland. I picked these up from the distillery a few weeks ago, but hadn’t cracked them yet. Selling new make spirit (un-aged) is a new offering for them, and it appears to be an in-house exclusive. Selling new make can be typical for new distilleries in order to have any product to sell while the rest is aging, but since Westland has been in production since 2011, that’s not quite the case for them.

While Westland hasn’t sold their new make before now, they do use new make on their tour in an educational capacity to demonstrate the differences in the different cuts of the distillation run: foreshots (heads), spirit cut (heart), and feints (tails). You don’t taste them, but just smell them, and it’s really fascinating how different they are. Only the spirt cut (heart) is used in the final product (and is by far the most pleasant-smelling of the three). I won’t go into more detail about the whole distillation process as I am no expert, but if you ever get a chance at a distillery to smell the three cuts, I highly recommend it!

However, I digress. To the tasting notes!


Westland 5 Malt New Make Spirit

(USA) 40% ABV

Nose: Very fragrant! Cherry and chocolate is very prominent. Some almond as well.

Palate: Plums, cacao nibs, raisins, nuts.

Notes: Smooth sweetness. Cherry chocolate flavor lingers.

 

Westland Washington New Make Spirit

(USA) 40% ABV

Nose: Cherry and blackberry, but much more subtle and not quite as aggressive as the 5 malt. Hint of chocolate.

Palate: Fresh without being grassy. Bright fruits – evokes summertime.

Notes: Tasting notes suggest peach syrup on the finish and I absolutely taste it. This one is my favorite!

 

Westland Peated New Make Spirit

(USA) 40% ABV

Nose: Smoky, but it’s not a campfire and it’s not overwhelming. Followed by a touch of the class Westland notes of fruit and chocolate.

Palate: Bit punchier than the others, but not spicy. Puff of smoke, but it’s no Islay. Some fruity sweetness follows, but not incredibly complex.

Notes: Good, and a nice contrast to the other two.

 

A very enjoyable tasting, and a good way to prepare for work after a long weekend. Stay tuned for whisky adventures in the form of an advent calendar… 🙂

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Unusual Cask Tasting Set

What best to do on a dark and blustery evening but have a whisky tasting with friends? Last Friday, we did just that. Good food, excellent company, and interesting whisky make for a lovely time, no doubt! Of course, I always love trying new whiskies, and this was a pleasant excuse to do so. 🙂

We again utilized Drinks by the Dram from Master of Malt, and tried their Unusual Cask Tasting Set. I enjoy malts that have been finished in sherry casks and rum casks, so I was really looking forward to sampling a wider variety of finishes. Without further ado, my tasting notes…


Dry Fly Wheat Whiskey Fortified Huckleberry Wine Cask Finish

American Whiskey (USA) 43% ABV

Nose: Spicy with hints of fruit and sweetness.

Palate: Not quite as sweet or fruity as I had expected from the description, but tasty. Vanilla and caramel come through, but unlike a bourbon.

Notes: Was pleasantly surprised to see a local-ish whiskey! Dry Fly is from Spokane, WA, and I hadn’t had the pleasure yet of trying any of their malts.

Penderyn Madeira Finish

Single Malt (Welsh) 46% ABV

Nose: Apple, vanilla, sweetness. The notes say “over-ripe grape”, which we thought was funny, but I did catch that on the nose.

Palate: Light, green, almost like a white wine.

Notes: A nice light dram, but nothing super special.

Arran The Amarone Cask Finish

Single Malt Scotch (Island) 50% ABV

Nose: Red berries, spicy, plum.

Palate: Spicy, warming, with some light tannins.

Notes: In the glass, the color was like a rosé wine. Delicate looking, but a sturdier flavor that the color suggests.

Old Hobart Overeem Port Matured

Single Malt (Australian) 43% ABV

Nose: “Smells like a Barbie doll.” <cue ‘barbie’ Australian jokes> Definitely had a strong note of plastic and not much else. Weird and not inviting in the least.

Palate: Little bit of creamy spiciness leads to a finish that is savory and briny, like a ham.

Notes: Definitely not what we were expecting, and frankly, a disappointment.

Laphroaig Quarter Cask

Single Malt Scotch (Islay) 48% ABV

Nose: Little woody, smoky, and band-aid smell.

Palate: “Oh, so that’s burnt rubber.” Burnt rubber, smoke… ugh.

Notes: NOPE. It was advertised as having a fruity sweetness, but it’s trying to detect an apple pie that was in the oven following a house fire. Ain’t gonna happen.

Overall, the favorites were the Dry Fly and the Arran. We were all left grimacing after the Laphroaig (with the exception of one friend who loves these horrible non-fruity peat monsters). But luckily, two of our friends rescued our tastebuds from a less-than-pleasing smoky doom by providing a bottle of Elijah Craig Small Batch and a bottle of Macallan 12 Yr Old. Thanks to them, our spirits (get it, spirits?? Sorry) were restored and merriment continued unabated.

A very fun evening and tasting, and I can’t wait to do it again! 🙂

Runs in the Dark

It’s that time of year when the outdoors can seem a little less welcoming than before. The siren call of the couch/bed is quite loud, particularly when the weather is dark, wet, and blustery. With the holidays looming, there are countless things to be done in preparation, and it’s a fine excuse to abandon any running plans. I’m also at the tail end of my off-season. While that doesn’t mean I am abstaining from running completely, it does make an easy excuse when it feels rather unfriendly outside and my motivation seems to have fled.

However, there is a hidden joy in going out for a run when it’s dark. Particularly in the morning when the city is still slumbering in warm beds and you’re out on the road, bundled yet still chilly. I often think, “Why am I not still cozied up under the covers like a sensible person? This is ridiculous.”

It’s quiet. My headlamp is on, and that little patch of light is my new best friend. The darkness doesn’t feel sinister, but private, like it’s your own little world at that moment. It’s just me, the sidewalk, and my thoughts. Typically when I start a morning run, I’m a bit slow, and my body takes a some time to wake up and reacquaint itself with movement. As I plod along, I see the city lights in the distance. A lovely sight, but a little reminder of my waiting responsibilities that adds a hint of urgency to my run. Otherwise, though, time seems to have stopped in the darkness.

As I slowly tick off the miles, the darkness yields to a rising sun. This time of year, there generally isn’t a beautiful sunrise. It’s a gradual lightening of the sky from a velvet black, to a slate gray, and finally to an ashen silver that sits low in the sky. Seattle and her perpetual grey, wet, blanket.

As I near home, the world seems to have finally awakened. People are hurrying by with their coffee in hand, and cars fill the streets. The magic of the darkness is gone, and all of the tasks and duties of the day beckon (sometimes rudely). At least I’ve started the day peacefully, and I’m energized from the meditative run in the dark. Perhaps tomorrow I can find peace in the darkness again…