Having recently endured the annual performance review process at my work, one of the more interesting tidbits I came across in the anonymous feedback section said, “She suffers no fools. Can be too brunt at times.”
I would imagine the typical reaction to reading this bit of criticism would be either 1). To disagree vehemently and suffer massive injury to pride, or 2). Calmly acknowledge the validity of the statement and make a mental note to adjust your behavior towards seemingly less competent teammates in the future.
As I said, those are the sort of responses a normal person would have. My immediate internal monologue; however, upon reading this bit of criticism was, “The correct word is blunt, not brunt! F&*^ing moron!”
Hmmm… Perhaps the anonymous commenter has a point. It should then surprise approximately zero people that my rating in the “Working Relationships & Conflict Negotiation” section was a very underwhelming and mediocre ‘Solid Performer’.
So while it might be generally said that I “suffer no fools” in many respects, as a whiskey consumer I can be as foolish as anybody else. I’m not above being beguiled by a dapper whiskey label and therefore doling out my ‘Solid Performer’ salary dollars to acquire aforementioned whiskey without bothering to inquire into any of the more substantive details on the liquid contained within the super artisanal-looking (what the hell does that even really mean?!) hipster bottle. Such was the scenario when I scrolled upon a preview photo of Westland’s Coldfoot release on Instagram. I was immediately suckered in by the old timey typeface and unnecessary waxed-denim bottle sleeve which is fastened onto the bottle with rough-hewn, probably-not-really-hand-crafted-but-definitely-looks-like-it leather tie strings. “It would go perfectly with my MacAlister suede moccasin-toe desert boots that I don when trekking through the grocery store on my arduous journey to buy more toilet paper, or placed next to my frontiersman-looking Jacob Bromwell copper flask that collects dust on my console table!”
Only after resolving to buy this release did I finally bother to pay attention to any of the non-aesthetic particulars of the whiskey, such as the name Coldfoot. Knowing how experimental Westland can be my first thought was that it was some reference to the elusive cold fingering method (Go ahead. Get the giggles out of your system, pervs). I will have you know that our lunatic, skirt-wearing editor’s first association upon hearing the name was ‘trench foot’.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term cold fingering (which I imagine are many of you) let me assure you that it was also a strange new term to me as well when I first encountered it in Aaron Goldfarb’s book Hacking Whiskey a year or so ago. Per Goldfarb, it is purportedly a method that can be used to increase the proof of a barreled whiskey. It should be noted that this would be illegal per most countries’ legal dictates over whiskey production and it is unclear on how widespread its use actually is on a commercial scale, if at all. I would tell you to expect an upcoming article on ‘cold fingering’ but I only sometimes live up to my promises.
But alas, per Westland’s website this release has nothing to do with cold fingering. Rather, it is a tribute to the “unrelenting spirit” of the rugged, hardy folks who trekked to Coldfoot, Alaska at the peak of the Klondike gold rush.
“In 1897, two thousand hardy fortune seekers broke from the stampede to Dawson and followed their own lonely trail 175 miles above the Arctic Circle to remote Coldfoot, Alaska. Only 200 held on to stake their claim. They stayed not for the gold, which was scarce and hard won, but for their total independence and clarity of purpose.”
It is impossible to mention the Klondike gold rush and feet without immediately recalling the famous scene from Charlie Chaplin’s 1925 film Gold Rush in which the beloved Tramp cooks and eats his own leather shoe (licorice was used to resemble leather). A scene that arguably gives inappropriate levity to a grisly reality of the time. Think along the lines of the Donner Party… Tangentially related: some film buffs may be familiar with the short documentary film in which Werner Herzog literally eats his own shoe as a result of losing a bet.
Back to the whiskey in question! Westland collaborated with Filson for this Coldfoot release, so you could say it is a hipster match made in Heaven. Along the bottom of the bottle label you will find “FOR THE DETERMINED” ominously stamped. Should I be concerned? Does it require much determination to drink this whiskey? And considering that some of the unfortunate fortune seekers of the gold rush resorted to eating their own shoes I imagine they’d settle for a cocktail made of cat piss if offered, so I am curious how they decided this whiskey would hit their standards. But let us proceed and see how it fares against your reviewer’s (humble?) standards.
Westland Coldfoot – Review
Color: Richard Simmons ‘Dance Your Pants Off’ VHS Tape.
On the nose: Dried raisins, brown sugar, sweet cream ice cream, malt, and walnuts.
In the mouth: The bitter raw cacao chocolatey-ness that seems to be a signature Westland tasting note, sour/rye notes you’d find in pumpernickel bread, espresso, and a very light peat.
While I found this release more pleasant than some of Westland’s more recent ones, I found it quite thin and light. A fleeting shadow of a profile. It’s a decent, “easy” sipper but would have benefited from the hardy, adventurous “spirit” that I imagine the hardy prospectors of the gold rush had.
Score: 6/10 Solid Performer
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