Seattle’s Westland has dropped a series of new whiskeys over the last few years, focusing on local woods, peat, and barley strains. Colere is the single malt that explores an ever-changing series of barley varieties “bred outside the commodity system.” We somehow missed Colore 2 last year but are working overtime to see what the third installment of the series has in store for us.
A continuation of Westland’s exploration of uncharted barley varieties, the third edition of Colere American Single Malt Whiskey features a 2-row barley called Pilot, a spring variety that traces its lineage back to grain breeders in the United Kingdom. Colere Edition 3 also introduces the use of a second-fill Oloroso Hogshead.
“The third edition of Colere has an entirely different construction than its predecessors,” says Shane Armstrong, Master Blender at Westland Distillery. “Distilled from Pilot barley, this spirit aged in refill Westland casks features an herbal tea note; a characteristic conserved and bolstered by one second-fill Oloroso Hogshead.”
Total maturation time is 41 months in 93% refill Westland barrels of various char levels and 7% (well, one) refill oloroso hogshead as noted by Armstrong. 4629 bottles produced.
I didn’t gravitate to Colere 1, but Colere 3 is, as promised, a much more invigorating and exciting experience. Bright and citrusy on the nose, the aromatics don’t evoke oloroso sherry so much as they do lemon tarts, coconut macaroons, and merengue cookies. The palate brings on an instant flavor of almond cookies, toasted sesame oil, and some ground ginger. I definitely get the “herbal tea” tasting note mentioned by Armstrong, though I would have described it as more floral and grassy — though, I suppose, that’s pretty close to the definition of herbal tea. The finish evokes lightly sweet chamomile flowers and recalls a light sesame character. Surprisingly clean, mature, and focused, this is one of the best whiskeys I’ve had from Westland in recent memory, a blossoming and exuberant celebration of barley that is never marred by new wood or too much time in the barrel.
Damn, now I wish I hadn’t slept on Colere 2.
A- / $150 / westlanddistillery.com