American single malt producer Westward has joined Distill Ventures, the independently operated and Diageo-backed accelerator for entrepreneurs building scalable drinks brands.
Portland-based Westward makes whiskey with locally malted Pacific Northwest barley and ale yeast. Founder Christian Krogstad began distilling American single malt whiskey when he founded House Spirits Distillery nearly 15 years ago.
Westward in 2015 became among the largest independent distillers of American single malt whiskey when it built its new Portland, OR, distillery. On a typical day, the distillery team brews 3,000 gallons of pale ale whiskey wash, which is double-pot distilled to produce enough whiskey to fill five-to-six new barrels of Westward American Single Malt whiskey.
The investment by Diageo through Distill Ventures includes both the current distillery in Portland and the Westward American Single Malt brand and inventory. Enabling capacity expansion of nearly 40% next year, the investment will allow the Westward brand to continue to meet demand using only whiskey that is produced from scratch at its Portland facility, as it has done from the start.
The remaining spirits that have historically fit under the House Spirits Distillery umbrella — including Krogstad aquavit, Volstead vodka, and Casa Magdalena rum — are not part of the investment, but will continue to be produced at the Portland distillery and supplied through the existing distributor network.
The founders and current investors of Westward whiskey will retain majority ownership and continue to run the business independently as the company continues to expand and introduce the brand to a broader global audience, the company says.
“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 the full potential of our Westward American Single Malt whiskey program,” says Westward CEO and Co-Owner Thomas Mooney.