The Pacific Northwest is home (and crucible) to a dynamic and booming distilling scene, with Seattle arguably emerging as its capital. Like many of his distilling contemporaries, Master Distiller Matthew Hofmann started at a young age, when he was still a student at the University of Washington. But his palate had awoken long before that. Growing up and going out to eat with his parents, Hofmann noticed a difference in flavor from the same meal cooked at home—and it piqued his interest. His concerns weren’t liquid-focused yet, but the idea that craft can transform a product stuck.
And though Hofmann was studying economics, he kept on distilling, eventually going to Heriot Watt University in Scotland to earn his post-grad diploma and work on his Masters thesis. Working in Scotland had great influence on Hofmann, though what he brought home wasn’t a replica of the Scottish model. At Westland Distillery Hofmann is crafting a distinct (read: revolutionary), evolving blend of classic single malt traditions using five kinds of American malt (that’s the revolutionary idea) for variety of character, fermenting with Belgian yeast for increased fruitiness, and aging in American new oak.
Hofmann, who is also the resident distiller at Steve Jone’s groundbreaking Bread Lab, doesn’t apologize for “liberties” taken. Instead he sees himself as a trailblazer in the story of American Single Malt American Whiskey. With good reason, Hofmann’s set on pitting his Single Malt against the best in the world.
Interview with Seattle Rising Star Distiller Matthew Hofmann of Westland Distillery
Read the entire StarChefs article and Matthew Hofmann interview here