My Seat­tle Matt Hof­mann

The owner and founder of West­land Dis­tillery tells us about his fa­vorite places in and around Seat­tle.

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West­land Dis­tillery co­founder Matt Hof­mann’s en­tire liveli­hood comes strictly from the dis­tinct in­gre­di­ents of the Pa­cific North­west: peat, malt and wa­ter. He used those to cre­ate the first peated sin­gle malt Amer­i­can whiskey us­ing en­tirely lo­cal com­po­nents. Af­ter years of mat­u­ra­tion and an­tic­i­pa­tion, West­land re­leased their Amer­i­can Sin­gle Malt Peated Whiskey in 2015 to wide crit­i­cal ac­claim (in­clud­ing an award for Whiskey of the Year from the Amer­i­can Dis­till­ing In­sti­tute). Hof­mann spoke with Where about what else in­spires him in Seat­tle and be­yond.

What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween a Scot­tish sin­gle malt and West­land’s?

Scot­land’s got great his­tory, that’s how they honor their whiskey tra­di­tion. Here [in Amer­ica], we are free to in­ter­pret it as we think it should be made. So we’re mak­ing ours unique, and uniquely Amer­i­can. It’s a whiskey with the idea of ter­roir in the North­west.

At what point did you re­al­ize your West­land whiskies might be a larger suc­cess?

I think the mo­ment where I got to share the news about be­ing named the best craft whiskey pro­ducer in the world (by Whisky Mag­a­zine) with my team here tops the list. It re­ally proved that we’re onto some­thing and that the world sees West­land and Seat­tle as a place where we can make world-class whiskey.

What’s the ex­pe­ri­ence for vis­i­tors to the West­land Dis­tillery in the SoDo neigh­bor­hood?

Come down and take a tour and get a tast­ing of some of our whiskeys you won’t find any­where else, even in Seat­tle. You can ask any ques­tions and learn as much about whiskey as you like. We also of­fer a mini-cock­tail flight too, for those who are un­sure about wad­ing into whiskey too quickly.

This in­tense fo­cus on lo­cal in­gre­di­ents that drives and in­spires you with whiskey—is there a lot of sup­port for that in the area?

The spirit of crafts­man­ship and well-made goods is quite strong in Seat­tle, so there are a num­ber of places that make great things across a va­ri­ety of in­dus­tries. One of my fa­vorites is Fil­son, who’s been mak­ing out­door gear since 1897 here in Seat­tle. Their flag­ship store is about a half mile up the street from our dis­tillery and you can see some prod­ucts be­ing made at the fac­tory on-site.

Con­grat­u­la­tions on your re­cent wed­ding. What’s your fa­vorite date spot?

Hands-down the best date spot in the North­west is the Wil­lows Inn on Lummi Is­land. Lummi Is­land is in the San Juan Is­land chain close to the Cana­dian bor­der, a three­hour drive and ferry from Seat­tle. The chef there, Blaine Wet­zel, spent some time at NOMA in Copen­hagen and makes such a dis­tinctly pure des­ti­na­tion-style of North­west cui­sine. I’ve been for­tu­nate in that in my line of work I’ve seen some pretty great restau­rants around the world. Gen­uinely, Wil­lows Inn has been bet­ter than all of them. Go up there around noon­ish, book a room for the even­ing and take some time to ex­plore the is­land. Din­ner will be sub­lime, I prom­ise, and then they serve break­fast too!

Your fam­ily has deep roots in the Seat­tle area. What are some of your fa­vorite places?

We love to walk or run along the Wa­ter­front Park just north of down­town or at Gas Works Park north of Lake Union. I’m a big Mariners fan so I love go­ing to Safeco Field for a base­ball game.

What’s your num­berone travel des­ti­na­tion out­side of Wash­ing­ton?

I’ve been to Tokyo twice and can’t get enough of it. Ky­oto is up there as a place to visit. I love driv­ing and one of these days I’ll find the time to drive down the Pa­cific Coast High­way to Cal­i­for­nia start­ing at High­way 101 in Shel­ton, about an hour south of Seat­tle. Dis­cover more at wheretraveler.com

The Can­tilever Room at West­land Dis­tillery

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