Whisky Advocate On Diageo’s Investment In American Single MaltSeptember 13, 2018
Another American whiskey brand is partnering with a major multinational spirits company.Just days after Wyoming Whiskey revealed it was entering a strategic partnership with Edrington Group, Diageo has announced that it will invest in Westward American single malt through its Distill Ventures unit.
The whiskey is made at House Spirits Distillery in Portland, Oregon, and the deal includes investment in both the facility and inventory, as well as the Westward brand. Majority ownership and independent control remain with Westward’s founders and current investors, and existing staff, including head distiller Christian Krogstad, who will stay on to make the whiskey.
House Spirits was founded in 2004 by Krogstad, a former brewer, and Tom Mooney, who serves as CEO; one of its investors is football legend Joe Montana. Krogstad aspired to make whiskey from the beginning, but got off to a slow start. For the first few years of the distillery’s existence, the wash was made at local breweries because House lacked fermentation capacity. With production volumes low, the company intermittently released single malt whiskey under the House Spirits label. Westward debuted in 2012, but continued to be highly limited, sold in 375-ml. bottles and available mainly in Oregon and a handful of other markets.
House Spirits opened a new distillery in 2015 that dedicated half its space to fermentation for the whiskey, moving the entire process in-house. It now has nearly 3,000 barrels of Westward maturing, and much more on the way. This year, House Spirits will fill around 1,200 barrels of whiskey; the investment from Distill Ventures will expand capacity by 40% to around 1,650 barrels going forward. Westward will become much more widely available in the next two years; Mooney says that by 2020, the whiskey will be sold nationwide. “We can now really allow the brand to be everything it can and should be,” he adds. Whisky Advocate has more.—Susannah Skiver Barton