American Single Malt Stout Cask; Westward Whiskey; Portland, Oregon; $90/btl
As we all know, all good things must come to an end, and one of those things is the absolute dominance of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, aka Bourbon, as the American whiskey. For many millions of years—or so it seems—Bourbon has been the go-to whiskey for so many people that names like Jim Beam and Wild Turkey dominate the American liquor landscape (and for those of you upset that I didn't mention Jack Daniels, well, you know nothing about whiskey and should take a geography lesson).
What gives, you ask? Well, I was staying with a friend in Portland some months ago, and our respective wives were out liquor shopping and called to ask what we wanted. "Eagle Rare," says I, knowing it could not be found. I mean, if they're gonna ask, you may as well send them on a wild goose chase, right? Funny thing, because I say that as an average Ken that lives in Boise, Idaho and you cannot find Eagle Rare in this state to save the Pope's life! And it's not even expensive. Go figure.
Well, as it turns out, the liquor store had, like, four bottles of the stuff, so the wives brought home exactly one of them, because what do wives know about good bourbon? I had been seeking out Eagle Rare for months and had yet to find any, and was super excited that I finally got to try it. Alas, that is for another post.
So, after we got back to Boise I texted my friend and asked him to locate some more of that delicious stuff. Well, he found another four bottles (one of which he kept for himself, the selfish brat) and then we met in Pendleton, Oregon, which is almost exactly halfway between here and there. So, we had a dude's weekend (for those of you unfamiliar with such things, that's a weekend without the womenfolk) and we met at the Wild Horse Casino. Because we're good friends, we each brought along a couple of bottles of golden nectar for ritualistic sharing. I brought a bottle of Uncle Nearest 1856 and a bottle of Jack Daniels Single Barrel—Barrel Proof (also for another tasting note sometime in the next millennia or three). My friend brought Burnside "Bourbon" (scare quotes because Portland is not in Bourbon County, Kentucky) and also this stuff I hadn't ever heard of called Westward American Single Malt Stout Cask. "It's good," says my friend as I scour the label for the obligatory "Bourbon" labeling.
But these guys aren't simplistic like that. Rather, Westward has chosen to stand on their own two whiskey-guzzling feet instead of doping around on that "Bourbon" label — a label, by the way, which took a very long time to build, and for which thousands of skilled distillers have fought long and hard. In other words, get your own label! (I give my thanks to Westward for understanding this and taking it to heart!)
Back to the story.
"Well, may as well put sobriety on the back burner," I said with greedy eyes as I eyed that fancy label (more kudos to Westward for shooting for that premium whiskey label, because it — and the bottle it's glued to — is truly beautiful). Thus, we began to sample the wares. Fortunately for this poorly trained palate we tasted the Westward first — before the alcohol poisoning kicked in — and let me tell you!
WOW! I seriously felt my socks go flying across the double-queen hotel room (we're not that close of friends, you know) as that honey-colored angel-juice slipped down the back of my throat. And you want to talk about smooth (cough, hack)? This stuff is smooth, like, whiskey smooth! And just loaded with all that stouty goodness. I mean, you can just taste the leftover stout floating around amongst the oak fibers. It's almost like someone took really good whiskey, and dumped it into a barrel that used to hug really good beer, and then made really gooder whiskey out of it. It's really good!
So, yeah, forget all that nonsense printed on the back of the label. Every distiller is going to up-sell his or her work with words like "chocolate" and "caramel" and "notes of cinnamon". Blech! Westward Stout Cask is just so much more than that. You see, it's not just those floral, feminine adjectives that make a whiskey great (they're important, mind you, because some folks need words to move them to buy a bottle), but it's also the power in the bottle. It's taking a swig and letting it roll around in your mouth and punch you in the nostrils and then kick you in the back of the throat and make you go, "WOW! That's good stuff!" and then you lick the bottom of the glass. This is a whiskey that did that to me on the very first try. It is very good stuff.
Unfortunately, my friend only brought part of a bottle (and the small part, mind you). And, at $90 per, I couldn't go drinking his entire stash. So when I got home, I found Westward's website and discovered that I could order direct. And so I did. Now, there's a bottle sitting happily on my bottom shelf — that's where I keep the good stuff — and let me just say right now that it takes an awfully good bottle of whiskey to make it onto my bottom shelf! Four Roses Single Barrel, Abalour A'Bunadh Sherry Cask Scotch, Basil Hayden's, and Eagle Rare 10-year make up the balance of that shelf, so Westward is in good company. Or should I say, those others are in good company, because to this average, ordinary, everyday Ken, Westward American Single Malt Stout Cask is as good as it gets!
Westward American Single Malt Stout Cask
Who is this guy?
I'm just an average, ordinary, everyday Ken, and nothing more. I like wine, whiskey, and beer. I write when I'm bored (and to prove it I've published three books). I like to garden, work with wood, and laugh with family and friends. Ken's Bar is an expression of my enjoyment of adult beverages of all shapes and sizes, but especially whiskey. My tasting notes are as much about stories and connections with people as they are about fluffy, snobbish adjectives. I've tasted a lot of whiskey (including the costs-way-too-much Rip Van Winkle stuff) and decided to start writing about it. Or something. So, sit back and read. If you can.
How do I rank?
Cost per Bottle:
$ - $0-$25
$$ - $26-$50
$$$ - $51-$75
$$$$ - $76-$100
$$$$$ - Over $100
* - Swill. Dump it out.
** - Mix it with coke
*** - A good sipper
**** - Straight from Heaven.
***** - Heaven called and wants its whiskey back!
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