The Peatiest Week on Earth
As autumn rolls in with cooler temperatures, pumpkins, apples, and sitting fireside. Along with it comes one of my favorite weeks of the year, peat week!
Peated whisk(e)y is a comforting hug to my senses. It conjures memories of campfires and my grandparent’s cabin in Northern Idaho. Simple times where the adults would play pinochle late into the evening. Bonfires were full of laughter, jokes, and stories about adventures of youth while they sipped whiskey.
Now more than 30 years later most of them are gone, and all that remains are the memories and the whiskey. While peated whiskey isn’t what my family sipped all those years ago, it still transports me back to those times all the same. A reason why I love peat week.
For the last three years, I’ve attended Westland’s Peat Week. The distillery has evolved, so too has peat week. Over the previous two years, an educational portion about peat was added. This part of peat week has become my favorite with the cocktail competition as a close second. Learning about the origins of peat, how it’s harvested, and what is being done to sustain it fascinates me to no end. If it were up to me, the peat education piece would be all week. However, I doubt many people would enjoy it as much as I do. This year though there was an added twist. A whisk(e)y tasting was added to the event. Also, the guest this year was Allan Logan, the distillery manager for Bruichladdich, a sister distillery in Islay Scotland. A rare opportunity indeed.
During the tasting we were able to compare and contrast the differences in peated whisk(e)y styles between the two. It was quite a treat! However, the best gift of the night came towards the end when Allan started to talk about the Octomore he brought with him. Instead of delivering the 7.1 he decided to make it something extra special. He brought a never released Octomore Single Cask, 2010 vintage, matured in Sauternes cask. It has a 97 ppm phenol count. There are no words to describe how beautiful it was to my palate. It is indescribable. I only regret I couldn’t have savored it properly. As a peat monster, I’m in love with this dram. Westland brought the Peatiest Week on Earth this year with this special guest. I look forward to next year to see what they have in store for us. While I love the bear hug of a highly peated whisky, I appreciate it’s not for everyone. This is why I recommend Westland's peated
whiskeys for people who would like to be introduced to peat, rather than being slapped in the face with it. Westland's peated whiskeys are approachable without being overbearing. Or as in the case of most Islay whiskeys, they will hug your senses with a bold veracity like an overly demonstrative relative. Westland’s commemorative Peat Week is slightly more peated than their regular peated expression. This year’s peat week sits in the 50-60ppm range. A bonus for this year’s bottling is it is cask strength.
If you're in the Seattle area, it's worth stopping into the distillery for a taste. If you're outside of the Seattle area whiskey season is upon us, and you may see the team out doing tastings at various shows. If you see an opportunity to taste it, take a chance and give it a try.
More than anything Westland's range of expressions tells a story. A story of the Northwest through aromas and flavors. By using Pacific Northwest malted barley, and casks from Pacific Northwest wood, Matt Hofman has imparted a depth and range in Westland’s expressions that tastes of home, my home, in the Pacific Northwest.