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Diageo-Backed Distill Ventures Invests In Oregon’s Westward Whiskey

September 12, 2018

Diageo-backed drinks accelerator Distill Ventures has added House Spirits’ Westward American single malt whiskey to its portfolio, making an undisclosed minority investment in the brand, whose distillery is based in Portland, Oregon. The move comes as a wave of ambitious craft distillers continue to develop the small but growing American single malt category.

Westward is a 45% abv, non-age statement blend of whiskies made from Pacific Northwest-sourced barley. The whiskey retails at around $85 a 750-ml. and is currently available throughout the U.S. As it joins the Distill portfolio, Westward’s production capacity is set to expand by around 40% next year, according to Diageo, and its reach will broaden to include an international audience as well.

This year, Westward will lay down about 1,200 barrels of whiskey, which will translate into volume of roughly 30,000 nine-liter cases once it matures, according to House Spirits co-owner and CEO Thomas Mooney.

Mooney, along with House Spirits founder and distiller Christian Krogstad, will retain a majority ownership stake in the brand, and will continue to operate Westward as an independent entity.

“This strategic partnership with Distill Ventures and Diageo brings deep production expertise, an enhanced route to market, and the capital that we need to realize Westward’s full potential,” Mooney said.

Diageo debuted Distill Ventures in 2013, in an effort to identify and develop small-scale spirits concepts with significant potential for expansion. To date, Distill has invested more than $75 million in 15 drinks brands. In addition to Westward, its range includes the Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits label, Stauning whisky from Denmark, and Starward whisky from Australia, among others.—Julia Higgins

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