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Westward Whiskey: Crafting Portland's Soul in Every Sip.

Portland, Oregon, a city renowned for its natural beauty, environmental consciousness, and vibrant cultural scene, is a place where the extraordinary is embraced. It's a city that perfectly blends serene landscapes and bustling coffee shops, where nature and art coexist harmoniously. It's also the birthplace of influential musicians like Elliott Smith, Sleater-Kinney, and Poison Idea, further adding to its idiosyncratic creative allure.


Where Pioneering Spirits Converge


In a city that champions organic living and thrives on microbreweries and artisanal coffee, it's no surprise that Portland's craft distillery scene is booming. Among the bright stars in this local spirits renaissance is Westward Whiskey, led by the enigmatic head distiller, Miles Munroe.


Brewing Alchemy at the Edge of Grain


Miles Munroe, with a name that sounds like a secret identity, is a charismatic figure at the forefront of single malt whisky in the Northwest. Starting as a humble homebrewer, he channelled his alchemical expertise into crafting exceptional single malt barley expressions. Westward follows a "grain-to-glass" approach, brewing its beer for the wash, a crucial step in creating the "liquid sunshine" the distillery is known for. They avoid age statements, believing that each expression should be released when it reaches its peak.


A Symphony of Craftsmanship


Westward Whiskey has received praise for its artisanal approach and unwavering commitment to quality. They meticulously handle every aspect of their operation in-house, emphasizing provenance. They source locally grown barley and ale yeast, which they ferment at low temperatures to create a uniquely American ale. This ale serves as the source material for double distillation in custom-made stills before the liquid begins its maturation journey in carefully selected lightly charred American Oak barrels.


With high expectations derived from having had the fortune to sample Whiskey Hunt's / Orrsum Spirits highly coveted barrel picks, we eagerly anticipated what Westward Whiskey had to offer.



Westward Whiskey Pinot Noir Cask


With hues ranging from golden deep yellows via fiery oranges in appearance, on the nose Westward’s Pinot Noir Cask expression reveals layers of sweet, sun-dried figs, ripe plums, brown sugar, and fragrant pipe tobacco.


The palate delights with rich velvety notes of raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and creamy malty grain, perfectly balanced with fresh melon, while the finish lingers with enduring whispers of juicy plums, English toffee overtones, velvety sultanas, dried cranberries, nuts and hints of leathery oak and white pepper.


Given the above-mentioned and the symphony of fruits and spice that is being unveiled, it would lend itself perfectly to be paired with a charcuterie board with blue cheese in a prominent position flanked by spicy salami, as it offers an abundance of stone fruits and hints of chocolate praline, which rest on a solid backbone of robust oak.


Capturing the Essence of Westward Whiskey with its Cask Strength Expression


Westward’s exquisite expression takes the already impressive flagship Single Malt and cranks it up a notch or two, delivering a vibrant and unforgettable tasting experience.


As soon as this whiskey hits your glass, the anticipation begins. The appearance is a rich burnt umber, hinting at the depth of flavour to come. A thin rim forms, resembling a wavy curtain, but it quickly dissipates as you dive into the nose.


The aroma is a delightful interplay of stone fruits, chocolate praline, and the unmistakable influence of oak. It's a bouquet that teases the senses and hints at the intricate tapestry of flavours awaiting discovery.


The palate experience of Westward's Cask Strength Single Malt is a revelation. While the Pinot Noir Cask release offers a silky texture, this cask strength version takes things to the next level. The whiskey's body is oily and full, creating a mouthfeel that's nothing short of luxurious.


As you bring the glass to your lips, you're in for a delightful surprise. The banana notes on the nose reveal themselves in a more robust form, complemented by hints of vanilla, apple, and a zesty touch of lemon.


Essentially, your taste buds are in for a whirlwind of delight. The front of the top of your mouth is graced with the sweetness of lemon curd, dates, and the comforting flavour of vanilla biscuits. As you progress through the tasting journey, pear, cinnamon, and nutmeg take the reins, weaving a complex and captivating narrative of flavours. The mid-palate is where the magic happens, as black pepper, barrel char, and herbal notes make a grand entrance.


However, it does not end here.


The finish of Westward's Cask Strength Single Malt is where the experience lingers and leaves an indelible mark. Black pepper and cinnamon spice provide a delightful kick, complemented by the richness of cocoa and, again, the underlying subtle smokiness of charred oak. The finish is impressively long, warm, and while deeply satisfying leaves one lusting for another dram.


Now, you may wonder about the strength of this cask. Westward's Cask Strength is not just a powerful punch of flavour; it's a harmonious and dangerously smooth ride. Despite the 62.5% ABV, it drinks with remarkable ease devoid of any traces of alcoholic burn, taking you on a journey of sweet and spicy transitions that have us coming back for more.


For the adventurous whiskey lover, the transition from sweet to spicy in this cask strength expression is nothing short of tantalizing. It's a whiskey that will tempt you to lose track of time and savour every drop.


The remarkable profile and dangerously smooth nature of Westward’s Cask Strength expression make it an absolute must-try.


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Words by AW.

Photos courtesy of Westward Whiskey.


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