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It feels like the official designation of the American single malt whiskey category has been endlessly on the cusp of happening for years. But that hasn’t stopped the burgeoning category’s leading distilleries from putting out innovative and delicious new bottles.
The newly released seventh edition of the Garryana American Single Malt from Seattle’s Westland Distillery is the perfect example of what can be achieved once “single malt” brings to mind American distillers as commonly as Scottish distillers. It’s a rare edition with only 6,900 bottles released nationwide, but worth every effort. It’s the latest in a line of single malts from one of the best producers in the category (Westland did start the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission, after all).
ABV: 50 percent
Where it’s available: Westland Distillery’s shop page
How Westland Distillery Garryana American Single Malt Is Made
Westland is Pacific Northwest through and through. This latest release is part of the Outpost Range, which brings in as much PNW influence as possible through oak species like Quercus garryana that are native to the region. This makes it not only hyper regional, but also unique: Westland is the only distillery in the world using garryana oak casks. New Quercus garryana casks make up 46 percent of the blend, while ex-red wine barrels from Washington make up 50 percent and first-fill ex-bourbon casks make up four percent. It’s balanced out with a finish in casks that previously held Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Washington wineries Betz Family Winery, Tinte Cellars, and Love That Red—another regional PNW connection.
Belgian brewer’s yeast is used on a wide selection of malt: Washington Select Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Extra Special Malt, Pale Chocolate Malt, Brown Malt, Baird’s Heavily Peated Malt—the latter of which adds just the right touch of peat smoke. It’s a single malt through and through, as it’s made with 100 percent malted barley.
What Westland Distillery Garryana American Single Malt Tastes Like
The whiskey has a bit of a sweet breakfast pastry aroma along with baking spices. There’s a light hint of the peat that follows through on the palate. It drinks light with just the right amount of burn for a 50 percent ABV whiskey to where you can tell it’s there but your mouth isn’t overpowered by alcohol. A thin honey sweetness balances out the touch of smoke that leads to a long finish that stays with you.
This is a whiskey you’ll want to drink neat.
Why You Should Add Westland Distillery Garryana American Single Malt To Your Bar Cart
American whiskey enthusiasts a decade from now will fondly look back at this experimental era of American single malt. What’s more, these types of early experiments with a local focus will define the category in years to come. But that doesn’t mean you should hold onto it and keep it sealed for posterity. This is a seriously good whiskey that you’ll want to share with good friends.