Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Westward Whiskey is one of the earlier craft distilleries in Pacific Northwest and they release a variety of limited edition American single malt whiskeys especially for the Club members. Their releases are quite unique, and experimental, and often have a local component. For example, one of their releases featured James Beard Award-Winning Baker, and Portland food icon, Ken Forkish’s sourdough levain, a blend of wild and local yeast.
Westward Whiskey recently got a boost from Diageo with an investment . They are also one of the largest distillers of American single malt whiskey, and built a new distillery in 2015 in Portland, Oregon. Not bad for a distillery that was only founded 2004 (as House Spirits Distillery) by Christian Krogstad. (You might have also heard of House Spirits Distillery from their famous gin, Aviation Gin, that was sold).
I really admire Westward Whiskey’s commitment to creativity and focus on building relationships. They partner often with local companies, use local grown grain, and support local agriculture. From the same philosophy comes the Westward Whiskey Rum Cask – a partnership with Magdalena Distillery.
According to Liquor.com, it is again based on cultivating relationship, this time with an old friend. “How exactly did a small spirits company in the Pacific Northwest get linked with a gigantic Guatemalan sugar mill? Tom Mooney, House Spirits’ CEO and the former American Craft Spirits Association president, grew up in Guatemala and was childhood friends with Luis Fernando Leal, who’s now the third-generation owner of Magdalena”
Casa Magdalena Rum is a collaboration of House Spirits (which owns Westward Whiskey) and Ingenio Magdalena and is produced in Guatemala by Ingenio Magdalena S.A. owned distillery. Ingenio Magdalena S.A. is Central America’s largest sugar producer, which of course is a great reason to build a distillery to take advantage of. The rum is crafted from sugar cane that is grown and harvested and distilled by the Leal family in Guatemala. It has notes of grassy aromas and an earthiness. It’s a subtle, not very sweet rum.
Due to restrictive laws in Guatemala with respect to aging, the distilled rum is brought to House Spirits Distillery to be aged in bourbon barrels for six months.
So since this whiskey is aged in Casa Magdalena Rum casks, that means this is second use of the original cask. I expect vanilla from the bourbon cask and herbal and tropical notes of the rum cask to have some interesting effects!
Tasting Notes: Westward American Single Malt Rum Cask
Vital Stats: American Single Malt with 100% local Barley mash bill. NAS. 50% abv. $100
Nose: Not very pronounced. Malt, tangerine
Palate: Honey, tropical – like dried pineapple, malt. Pepper towards the end.
Whiskey Review: Westward American Single Malt Rum Cask
This is a fun whiskey with unique flavors and a fun story. I admit that when I first opened my bottle, I was not sure what to think. But after letting it sit for a while, I really enjoyed it.
I think this is one of my favorite Westward Whiskey releases so far. It starts with a cornucopia of flavors – very very pleasant to sip. The sweetness lingers on but transitions to a peppery finish that lingers on. it’s tropical and fruity, mostly citrus without overpowering which is really a great accomplishment. Even though the single malt characteristics come through, they are beautifully accompanied by the flavors the rum (and ex-bourbon) cask brings out. This is a fun, bright whiskey that is an easy sipper but also complex enough to please most drinkers.