Boston’s Omni Parker House is a hotel rich with history. Established in 1855 by Harvey D. Parker it is the longest operating hotel in the US. There are two main reasons why we always frequent this hotel: 1) The Last Hurrah bar in the hotel has the best whisky list in the city. 2) Frank Weber, Omni Parker’s Food and Beverage Manager, is amazingly knowledgeable when it comes to all things, but mainly, whiskey. He has always been our go to person when we want to try a new whiskey or simply when we want to learn more.
Two weekends ago we attended the Westland Whiskey Dinner hosted by the Omni’s Parker Restaurant led by Frank. Let me tell you, the event was wonderful. The food was amazing and the whiskey, well, it was exceptional. So, lets begin with the food and finish with the good stuff, whiskey.
Roasted Butternut Chowder with Apples and Bacon paired with Westland American Oak Single Malt
Loin of Pork Scaloppine, Oven Risotto with Kale Pesto, Red Cabbage in Brown Butter served with a wedge of Acorn Squash paired with Dom Brunet, Vin de Pays d’Oc Pinot Noir
Mixed Lettuces with Grapefruit, Goat Cheese and Black Pepper paired with Westland Sherry Wood American Single Malt
Artisanal New England Cheeses paired with Westland Peated American Single Malt
Dinner was not only delicious but also, beautifully presented. Each whiskey pairing fully complimented the dish. For the main course we were served a wine that was absolutely phenomenal. The Vin de Pays unlike other red wines had a very low acidity level. I had never tasted a wine like it. If you are like me and like wines with low acidity level, this one is definitely one to look for.
Frank, the chefs and their staff truly knocked it out of the park with this meal. They went above and beyond to ensure that all their guests were happy and enjoying this experience. We had absolutely no complaints and wondered why we didn’t eat there more often. Next time we are there, it just won’t be for the whiskey.
The folks from Westland also went above and beyond. They were very approachable and during the meal they ensured all our questions were answered as they walked from table to table speaking with us.
To help you further understand the brand, after dinner I spoke to Chris Riesbeck, Eastern Sales Manager with Westland and asked him a few questions.
Six Questions with Chris:
How did it all begin for Westland?
Chris: Westland was founded in Seattle in 2010. The goal from the outset was to produce a whiskey that was authentic to the Pacific Northwest. Here, where we have one of the finest regions in the world for growing barley, single malt was the obvious choice (to say nothing of our love for the oldest style of whiskey). We saw the opportunity to add a new voice to the world of single malt—one that was distinctly American—and evolve the notion of what American whiskey could be.
For the Westland Peated Single Malt, how is your barley peated?
Chris: The peated barley we use in our Core Range Peated Single Malt is sourced from Baird’s Malting in Inverness, Scotland. This is a heavily-peated malt and measures at approximately 55PPM. The actual method for malting is in a Saladin Box and the source of the peat is Highland areas. Side note: We have been working with WA-grown barley malted using peat harvested from WA State for the past few years, but that whiskey won’t see a bottle for a few more years.
Any major changes to the distillery now that it’s owned by Remy Cointreau?
Chris: No major changes are planned with the exception of increased production over the coming years. The entire team is still in place and the vision (for the brand and the whiskey) is the same as it was before we joined the Remy family.
In 2017 you had a limited release of Garryana; do you have any new limited releases planned for 2018?
Chris: Each year we release bottlings of Garryana (Sept) and Peat Week (Jan). In addition to these regular series, we release single casks to markets on a semi-annual basis. We also offer a distillery exclusive single casks that visitors can hand-fill at our tasting room in Seattle. Each April we also bottle an April Fool’s Release as well! We have other plans to for series similar in scope to Garryana and Peat week. Those will start being introduced over the next couple of years.
If someone has never tasted Westland before, how would you describe it to them?
Chris: We typically talk about approachable complexity. Westland whiskies all have a depth of character but we work hard to deliver a balance in the whiskey. We’re not heavy-handed with things like smoke, sherry or oak sweetness. Westland whiskies always highlight the barley in equal billing alongside these flavor profiles.
What makes Westland different than any other American Whiskey?
Chris: The focus on barley is the first and most dramatic difference. Westland is leading the emerging category of American Single Malt Whiskey. This is an entirely new category in the world of whiskey. In a country that is know for bourbon (whiskey made from corn) to prove that great single malt (whiskey from barley) can come from America is incredibly exciting.
Westland currently has three core whiskies on their range. Two of which I have written about, Westland Sherry Wood and Westland Peated Whiskey. The other one, Westland America Oak, I tried for the first time during the event.
Westland America Oak
Nose: wood, vanilla and citrus
Palate: creamy, earthy, with a small bite and notes of vanilla, custard, fruit
Finish: smooth with ending notes of wood and chocolate
Personally, to me it tastes like a scotch, making Rémy Cointreau a good partner for them since the French company acquired Bruichladdich back in 2012. It is a whiskey full of character and quality. I found it easy to drink and unlike other America whiskies, extremely creamy and smooth.
It is safe to say that there is a ton of horrible whiskey being produced out there now a days and that is not necessarily a good thing. You’ve seen me write a ton about Scotch whiskies, Japanese whiskies as well as Irish whiskies. but rarely American whiskies. The reason, I hardly find American whiskies that I love. I have a few favorites but nothing came along to knock me off my feet like Westland. They truly know what they are doing and they are taking American Whiskey to a new level.
It is American Whiskey like you’ve never tasted before. It sets itself apart from all others and it will stand the test of time. This is distillery that will only continue to get better and I for one, can’t wait to see what else they come up with.
Note: The contents on my blog are solely my opinion. To me every palate is different! Although I may or may not like a product, I always recommend for people to try it and make up their own minds.