Two years in the making.

Single malt–focused Sodo newcomer Westland Distillery is getting ready to release a locally made peated whiskey—bearing that aggressively smoky flavor most commonly associated with heavy-hitting Scotches like Ardbeg and Laphroig. 

It's a limited edition called First Peated, a three-cask preamble to the peated whiskey that will join the distillery's permanent lineup of single malts later this year. This Saturday, February 22, the 700 bottles of First Peated make their debut after more than two years in the barrel. Some will end up in bars and spirits shops around town, though anyone looking to buy a bottle might want to visit the tasting room. Early. Bottles retail for $65, and there's a limit of two per person.

There's little middle ground on peated whiskeys. Matt Hofmann, Westland's master distiller, likens the divisiveness to blue cheese—"People either love it or hate it, and if I try to describe how blue cheese tastes, it sounds kind of disgusting.” First Peated strikes me as an excellent gateway peated whiskey, one for people who don't swoon at the thought of sipping a campfire. The smoke is certainly the star, but softened with more familiar notes. 

Westland adds a domestic spin by aging its peated whiskeys in casks of new American oak. As Hofmann tells it, "It's not quite the big punch in the face" as its Scottish forbears.

The tasting room opens at 11 on Saturday, and a release party, complete with cigar pairings, happens later that evening.

 

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