Monday, August 17, 2015
American Single Malts: Westland and Cut Spike
Two of the most well regarded American single malts are Westland from Washington State and Cut Spike from Nebraska. Today, I taste new offerings from each of them: Batch 3 of Cut Spike and a K&L barrel from Westland (which seems to be sold out).
Cut Spike Single Malt, 2 yo, Batch 3, 43% abv ($60)
I reviewed Batch 1 of Cut Spike last year and found it quite good. Batch 3 is brand new on the market.
The nose has prominent gin notes, then some vanilla. The palate is very raw with sweet grainy notes. The juniper notes come back in the finish.
Unfortunately, this couldn't be more different from Batch 1, the earlier batch which I liked (I tasted them side by side as I still have some of Batch 1 left). It has none of the depth and complexity of that bottling. Instead, it tastes like a pretty run of the mill craft whiskey, young with raw wood. I'm hoping this is an aberration.
Westland Cask 300, 60.8% abv ($90)
Westland has been popular for a few years now, but this is the first one I've tried. This is a special, cask strength, fino sherry aged bottling for K&L.
This has an odd nose with Butterfinger and pralines & cream ice cream. The palate is full of sweet toffee, a more literal toffee flavor that is found in bourbon, which often has toffee-like notes. The toffee note comes on strong but then fades quickly and you're left with a very vague sherry note on the finish. Water tames the sweetness a bit but also brings out some sulfur on the palate.
This one was a mess. It was sweet but without depth, and it didn't retain any positive notes from the sherry aging.
I was really looking forward to this tasting since these are two of the stars of American single malt, but both of these were disappointing. I have another few Westlands in the tasting queue, so I'll see if this one was a fluke or not. As for Cut Spike, I know they can make good whiskey, this batch just didn't live up to the earlier one. I hope, as they have become popular, they are not rushing out barrels that aren't yet ready.
Thanks to Funky Tape for the samples.