Westward – Stout Cask WTF

This Westward Stout Cask Single Barrel Selection was bottled exclusively for WTF Utrecht. One of my personal favourite festivals in The Netherlands and it comes as no surprise that they picked American Whiskey’s for their festival bottlings last year. Norbert Tebarts (from Whisky4all) is co-organiser of the festival after all, and he is considered the leading expert on American Whiskey in The Netherlands.

Westward is a craft distiller from the Pacific Northwest, located in Portland Oregon. They mainly produce for the local (U.S.) market, but also export a fair amount to Australia. In Europe it’s still quite uncommon to spot a bottle though, which makes it all-the-more exciting to try this Single Barrel Selection offering if you missed it at last year’s WTF! If you’re looking to visit this year’s festival, I have good news as there are still tickets available. You can get your tickets here: wtfishappening.nl

I am very glad that I was able to add this whisky to my first Explorers Pack as it represents a wonderful example of the fact that American Whiskey is so much more than just bourbon. The Explorers Pack is all about taking you on a flavour adventure through all that whisky has to offer. Good quality whisky can be found all over the world and this dram shows us just that. Because here we have a Stout Finished Single Malt, that can rival many a Scotch made in a similar manner.

Tasting Notes: Westward – Stout Cask Single Barrel Selection

(Exclusively bottled for WTF Utrecht 2022)

Stats:

ABV: 50% (100 proof)

Age: NAS

Casks: Matured in New Charred Oak casks and finished in Stout Casks.

Distillery: Westward Distillery

Category: American Single Malt Whiskey

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Nose:

The nose of this dram welcomes you with warm and sweet notes. Roasted chestnuts, freshly molten caramel en vanilla custard all provide for a very homely feeling. Where comfort food is a well-known thing, I consider this it’s liquid equivalent. There’s also porridge and molasses, giving me the sense of early weekend mornings as a child. Turning this nose into a wonderful little trip down memory-lane. Lastly, I’m finding dark chocolate covered cherries, providing a layer of luxury to this already lovely indulgent American Single Malt.

Palate:

Where I didn’t notice the Stout cask influence on the nose all that much, it becomes immediately apparent on the palate. It reminds me of taking a gulp of Guinness after a long day of work. It has a very soft mouthfeel, vaguely reminiscent of a cream soda. And it brings forth flavours of dark brown sugar, coffee candy (hopjes), and oak shavings. There’s some dark chocolate covered almonds in there as well which helps to balance out the tannins I’m finding. All-in-all it’s a wonderfully complex dram, albeit very much on the darker side flavourwise. This is for people who like espresso instead of coffee and their chocolate extra dark.

Finish:

The finish is where this dram truly starts to shine. It’s extremely lengthy, providing you with a wealth of time to explore the flavours that linger long after the last sip. The Guiness note from the palate is the first to fade, leaving you with notes of coffee, molasses, and dark chocolate covered cherries. In fact, I find it vaguely reminiscent of a cherry liquor bon-bon. The tannins I found on the palate turn into cinnamon on the finish and I’m finding a hint of cacao powder to top it all off.  

Verdict:

I thoroughly enjoy every moment I spend with this dram. Its dark notes fit my palate perfectly. I like my espresso’s dark roasted, and my chocolate extra dark. I state this at the very start, because despite the sweet notes that this dram also brings it’s these darker notes that are dominant. And if you’re more into tea than coffee and prefer white chocolate over dark, than this dram might not be the best fit. I wouldn’t exactly call this whisky balanced either, it sits very firmly on one side of the spectrum. It is however very complex, and for those with a love for dark flavours this is an excellent and highly recommended dram.

Rating:

88/100

Don’t just take my word for it!

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