Whiskey Reviews: Women of Westward Benefit Barrels

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Westward Whiskey. 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 towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

While International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month cannot abolish all the injustices towards women, they play a vital role in shining the light on women’s achievements. Women have saved whiskey a time or two throughout history, and more women continue to break through the glass ceiling in the male-dominated whiskey industry. With women representing thirty percent of whiskey drinkers in the United States, they also control seventy percent of the alcohol purchasing power.

However, many companies find opportunities to capitalize on the celebration of women. We have seen Jane Walker from the Johnnie Walker label and American Woman Whiskey. Instead of giving women drinkers a female mascot or a male gaze female form bottle design, Westward Whiskey is simply letting the women behind the scenes at its distillery hand-select barrels for its Women of Westward Benefit Barrel.

The Women of Westward Benefit Barrel is an annual International Women’s Day release. Each release gives 100 percent of the profits to selected charities. The 2021 sophomore single barrel offering chosen by Kelly Woodcock and Erin Hayes with a tasting panel of six leading women in the drinks industry is donating to Al Otro Lado and the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. The proceeds from the first Women of Westward Benefit Barrel went to Speed Rack.

Read More Whiskey News
Death And Destruction: The Risks Of Whiskey Making

“We are proud to be honoring and toasting to all women with our Women’s History Month programming,” Director of Sales & Trade Advocacy Erin Hayes said in a prepared statement. “At Westward, our dynamic team of women is key to our mission of elevating American whiskey. I’m delighted to be a part of such a dedicated, skilled, and accomplished team and part of a company that recognizes and appreciates women year-round.”

This perfectly sums up the direction I want to see the whiskey industry embrace. No gimmicks, just delicious whiskey made by women. Now let’s break down each of the Women of Westward Benefit Barrels.

Women of Westward

Women of Westward Benefit Barrel no. 1 and no. 2 (photo via Courtney Kristjana)

Tasting Notes: Women of Westward Benefit Barrel No. 1

Vital Stats: 45%ABV, 90 proof. A Pacific Northwest single malt made with 100% Two Row Pale Malted Barley distilled on 2016 Feb 24. An Oregon exclusive; 750ml $99.99.

Appearance: Auburn

Nose: Juicy stone fruit like nectarine and plum greets the nostrils first. Banana bread then hits in the middle with ginger, nutmeg, and other baking spices. Lastly, the aroma of almond extract and sweetness mingle like marzipan or macaron.

Palate: At first sip, sweet spun sugar dissolves across the tongue. Summer peach and nectarine are bright. The mouthfeel is soft and creamy. Clove and black pepper add a touch of heat before moving into the finish. The oak comes through at the end like a black tea. Cocoa powder and espresso linger on the breath afterward.

Score: 4/5

Tasting Notes: Women of Westward Benefit Barrel No. 2

Vital Stats: 45%ABV, 90 proof. A Pacific Northwest single malt made with 100% Two Row Pale Malted Barley distilled on 2016 Jan 27. A national release; 750ml $99.99.

Read More Whiskey News
Whiskey Review: Maker’s Mark 2021 Limited Release FAE-01 

Appearance: Tawny

Nose: First is the floral scent of jasmine if only for an instant. Cinnamon and French vanilla rush up in the middle with full force. Raisin lingers in the background before orange peel peaks through. Rubbing alcohol affronts the nostril at the end.

Palate: Honey and orange peel pleasantly cut through the harshness of rubbing alcohol. It is spicy from cinnamon and clove. The spice is not overpowering as it goes well with the grain that comes through. Overall, it is reminiscent of a granola bar.

Score: 3.5/5

The Takeaway: The Women of Westward Benefit Barrels are both unique, and the difference is night and day. Barrel No. 1 overall has a wonderful balance with the mouthfeel and flavor profile. Barrel No. 2 comes off a little too harshly with overpowering spice and rubbing alcohol. This can be mellowed with a splash of water, but the undesired notes do not fully go away. Either way, they are both good whiskeys and 100% of the profits from these bottles go to phenomenal charities.