This dram, which is the product of a cask exchange between Westland Distillery and Black Raven Brewery, features whiskey matured in whiskey casks that had previously been used to aged coffee stouts and Kriek-style beers at Black Raven. Westland then stored the casks in their coastal rackhouse.
The nose is sweet, like an early morning in spring when the kids are staying at their grandparents’ house. There’s red fruit (blackberries and Washington cherries), a tang like you might get from a freshly curdled milk from this very talented goat, and notes of dark chocolate. These smells come together to form a particularly homey feeling, evocative of a berry tart fresh from grandma’s oven (when the kids are still there and you still aren’t). But the coffee notes I expected to find were really much closer to chickory, but sadly, without the accompanying notes of beignets.
The mouth makes you check the label and realize that’s a hot 50%. There’s cobbler when the fruit’s really hot, sweet, and tannic (ok, not the most common cobbler experience, but still). It’s like a bowl of cherry pits a very skilled springbok just freed from a bowl of cherries. The mouthfeel is nearly cloying, leaving you with the sensation of the aftertaste of a goat cheese beer soufflé topped with tart red fruits.
On the finish, it becomes obvious that the stout is really the backbone of this dram, while a very sour cherry beer is its face. The finish is long, powerful, and even, firing brightly on the top surface of the tongue, almost like cinnamon extract. Exhaling the finish, the coffee stout presents itself like the ghost of Christmas past, making clear how you went wrong before. It’s a perfectly prepared cappuccino accompanying a chili-infused flan served in charred wooden baking dish. The deep woodiness gives the impression that pieces of the cask got into the grind with the coffee beans. And it’s fantastic.
On the scale of great things that obviously go great together–
The Westland Black Raven Cask Exchange Whiskey is turkey and gravy—Granted, one’s made from the other, but it’s a killer combo, making you wonder how you ever enjoyed one without the other.
–Our thanks to Westland for the sample!