It seems like production of malt whiskey in the United States has really taken off during the last decade or so, thanks in part to the massive surge of popularity of bourbon. Though some of the bigger distillers make malt whiskey, lots of what we see on shelves come from smaller craft distillers. One such distiller is Portland-based Westward Distillery. Founded in 2004 by Christian Krogstad, the goal from the start was to distill a “distinctive single malt inspired by the American Northwest.”
The distillery starts with fermenting locally malted barley with ale yeast that’s distilled twice in low-reflux pot stills, which then make their way to new, lightly charred American oak barrels. There’s no age statement listed on the label. If this were labeled as a straight malt whiskey, that would mean the whiskey is at least four years old. Though “American Single Malt” isn’t technically an official TTB designation, it’s safe to assume the distillery is following the Scots and Irish in that this whisky is made from 100% malted barley from one distillery.
The nose is lush with ripe fruit, vanilla cream, and hints of toffee and barley bread. A rush of sugary sweetness washes over the palate, soon revealing those malty and fruity notes from the nose. Darker notes of dried cherries and dark chocolate evolve on the back palate and into the long finish. There’s a slightly herbal note lingering afterwards. At 45% abv, the liquid doesn’t feel thin and carries a little weight.
Westward has a solid malt on their hands. It’s got a robust flavor that highlights the grain while not tasting too young. It’s a great base to build upon, especially if the distillery were to utilize wine casks in their blends.
Next up will be an even deeper dive into Westward Whisky’s flavor profile with a look at a single barrel release. Stay tuned…
Thanks to Westward Whisky for the review sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.