[I filled this one myself this past May at Westland Distillery in Seattle. In fact, I bought two of them! This one was matured for 48 months in American oak casks and then for another 3 months or so in an ex-Muscatel cask.]
On the nose, it’s crazy spiced chocolate, but so much more: it’s a chocolate coated church bell choir (yes, it rings that true); a buttery biscuit dipped in fine dark chocolate served on a luxury sea liner; a pair of pier stanchions dipped in cinnamon powder; a bar of French-milled soap floating in a vat of cough syrup hand-blended for Zsa Zsa Gábor; a mess of cherry cordials piled high on a desk Scarface-style, then dusted generously with cocoa powder and less generously with nutmeg–you know just to heighten the effect.
The nose nearly dumbfounds us with smoked bacon. There’s also plum jam that’s had cream mixed into it, just before it was slathered all over my synapses. The continual firing into the finish induces a stunned silence that’s really more of a reverence. This bad boy is hefty, and walks with its elbows out, but without ill-intention. And no one minds at all.
The finish is post-coital bliss captured in a dessert. Its relative youth is evident, but it’s a prodigy, a phenom. It’s Bobby Fischer destroying U.S. Chess Champion Donald Byrne in the Game of the Century. It’s a mad geneticist’s three-way splicing together of a spice cake, a chocolate sponge from Islay, and the best sticky toffee pudding you ever had. [John: Shouldn’t that be a baker rather than a geneticist?!?] [Bill: You’d think so, but I often have dreams of cakes breeding–especially chocolate ones.] All of this is to say that it’s an after-dinner whiskey par excellence. Have it before the cigars, though, so you don’t miss any of this flavor.
On the scale of of baseball phenoms–
The Westland Cask 4856, 51 month old, hand-fill, distillery-only bottling is Ken Griffey, Jr.–“The Kid” charmed Seattle Mariners (and MLB) fans with his wide smile and nearly boundless grace once he made his major league debut at 19. He was as impressive in the field as he was at the plate, electrifying Major League Baseball and helping restore its image after the 1994 strike. And this reviewer actually saw him start in center field in a game in which his father, Ken Griffey, Sr., started in right field. In other words: pretty damn special.