Have you heard the one about the Englishman, Irishman, Dutchwoman and Scotswoman? No, neither have I, but I thought it’d make for a nice opening line so bear with me.
The inspiration comes from having a quartet of reviews for this interesting release from Westland distillery. As part of a recent charity tasting in Glasgow, where we raised nearly £500 for a local homeless organisation, I opened this bottle at the end. In addition, I poured 3 samples for the MALT team members who were present that day; Justine, Noortje and Phil. Each of whom had kindly agreed to review the whiskey at the end of this piece. I also reached out to our resident American whiskey enthusiast, Adam, who is also a fan of Westland, for his thoughts on this release.
This will be the first time that they have seen each other’s tasting notes and scores. I’ve found it very interesting compiling their views and hopefully, you’ll enjoy reading each of them as well.
The Diver is an exclusive single cask available via Maison Corbeaux based in San Francisco for $160. This is a little more I’ve been told than other single cask releases from the distillery, however, there is a novelty factor here and a glittery label. Such a cool label that it’s a bloody pain to photograph!
This whiskey is bottled at 54.3% and is naturally presented with no colouring and is non chill filtered. I’d also suggest you check out our other reviews of Westland given its excellent distribution. Owned nowadays by French giant Rémy Cointreau, who also own Bruichladdich, we’ll be seeing and hearing a great deal more from this distillery in the coming years. Especially seeing how we tend to review anything Bruichladdich releases, including when the distillery cat farts.
For now, let’s see what our European panel thought of this release before Brexit kicks in…
Westland Diver – Adam’s review
Colour: Two pence pieces.
On the nose: Yowza, that’s peaty. In a similar way to Paul John style, actually. Mixed cooking spices, wood fire, incense and char. Dried fruit, black currant fruit pastilles and – weirdly – a touch of liquorice and bubblegum. It’s not super complex but it’s jolly satisfying.
In the mouth: Shockingly gentle burn for the proof. The peat – if anything – is even more dominant, but otherwise the flavours are almost identical to the aromas, plus a little more dark chocolate malt. The peat actually stops things getting too sweet, intertwangling nicely instead.
Alongside Balcones, Westland make by far the best single malt in America. This doesn’t change my opinion of that. It’s just a bit too high of an entry fee.
Westland Diver – Justine’s review
Colour: Yellow gold.
On the nose: my initial thoughts are of rum and raisin ice cream. This is followed by notes of dark chocolate and Golden Syrup. In the background, there are hints of red fruits – strawberries and blackcurrants – and they start to come to the fore after a while. The fruits develop into notes of red apple. There’s always a gentle hint of thyme lurking in the background and there’s something about this that makes it smell quite dry (if that makes any sense at all!).
In the mouth: initially there’s a huge spice kick but not much else. With water, this becomes marginally more interesting, opening up notes of blackcurrant and a red apple. Essentially though, this feels as if the cask has taken over; it really burns in a chilli pepper kind of way.
This really isn’t for me. The nose is actually really pleasant but the palate is quite disappointing in comparison. It feels as though the cask influence has been aggressive and, as a result, this is fairly one dimensional.
Westland Diver – Noortje’s review
On the nose: At first, I somehow get a hint of Hubba Bubba Bubblegum. This is quickly followed by cherries. It’s quite sweet. Then some honey and caramel too. A hint of tobacco? And then it reminds me of Amaretto a bit, weird. A bit woody as well.
In the mouth: Very sweet again. Cherries. Honey and vanilla. Some wood here too. Tobacco leaves. Milk chocolate. Followed by a few spices, like pepper and cinnamon. The finish is a bit nutty and there is caramel too. and somewhat long. With water: Somewhat softer. More on the caramel it seems.
It’s not too bad actually. It’s full of flavours, but it is a tad too sweet for me. Also, I feel this is way overpriced. Normally I would give this a 6 out of 10, but yeah it is really too expensive so a 5/10.
Westland Diver – Phil’s review
Colour: Caramelised Squash
On the nose: undiluted there is a slight alcohol hit with an immediate salinity, slight smokiness and hint of diesel. There is an underlying fruitiness trying to break through – charred peaches on a grill, muscovado sugar. Dusty oak, cask char, cocoa powder and possibly a hint of sherry? Water releases shoe polish, black tea and more oily notes.
In the mouth: not overly thick or oily considering the strength. Not sweet at all on arrival, prickly heat on the tongue from the alcohol at full strength followed by a raft of peat smoke and sea salt. A 2nd sip brings more sweetness on arrival – some brown sugar, a little nuttiness before the smoke and salt overload events. Water lessens the body and texture – slightly sweeter now then brined lemons and a sharp green apple note followed by the now familiar smoked sea salt. The finish is short with notes of cask char and ash.
First things first, this is unlike nearly any American whisky I have tried before and you could be forgiven for thinking you are in fact drinking something from Scotland, so interesting in that regard.
However, this to me tastes like they have taken their single malt and matured it in an ex-Laphroaig barrel. Whatever the base malt tasted like has pretty much been smoked into submission and really struggles to cut through. The nose actually wasn’t too bad but the palate is a real let down.
Lead image kindly provided by Maison Corbeaux.