As every whisky lover knows, all good things start with a dram. But what if that dram came direct from the whisky maker and could be shared by other whisky enthusiasts around the country at the same time?
Westward Whiskey are one of the most recognisable names when it comes to American craft whiskeys, and for good reason. Hailing from Portland, which has a reputation as being a bit left-field, it’s little surprise that they are doing things differently. If you’ve ever watched Portlandia, you’d know where we’re coming from. Westward Distillery was founded in 2004 by former brewers and winemakers who had a vision: to make a distinctive Single Malt inspired by the American Northwest.
Tonight though we were here in Melbourne with Master Distiller Miles Munroe who had flown in from Portland to celebrate Westward’s very first collaboration with an Australia winemaker; the Westward Vintage Muscat Cask aged in Stanton & Killeen muscat barrels.
As we sipped on the spirit in question, Monroe explained how the journey of partnering with Whisky Club had led Westward to the renowned Stanton & Killeen vineyard in the Rutherglen region. After the overwhelming success of a previous release, the excellent rum barrel whisky, members of Whisky Club were banging on their ‘virtual‘ door asking for more, so the idea was formed to do a true Australian collaboration that could be exclusively enjoyed by members.
Interestingly, while there are more than 200 varieties of Muscat in the world, Rutherglen’s wine producers only use Muscat à Petits Grains Rouge (locally referred to as ‘Rutherglen Brown Muscat’), renowned for its intense flavours due to the smaller berries providing more colour and flavour. The clones used are specific to Rutherglen and have been grown here for more than 140 years.
Stanton & Killeen Muscat is aged in small and large oak casks, and it’s these casks that Westward’s bold spirit has been beautifully mellowed and enriched in for added complexity. Getting them over to Portland was no mere feat, but we’re happy they did because the spirit is bold, smooth and absolutely moreish.The nose is an enticing blend of apricots and gooey butterscotch. Taking a sip, I was greeted by a mouthful of rich raisins, toffee and fig. This will absolutely be a hit over Christmas. The finish was bold yet harmonious, leaving behind notes of soft citrus, chocolate-laden mocha, candied nuts, and sweet vanilla oak. As we compared it to the wine that came from the same barrels, we could compare how this drop influenced the whisky.
Having experienced some of the previous Westward releases; Rum Cask, Pinot Noir Cask, and even some of their Stomping Ground Brewery collaborations, I’ve seen the anticipation that surrounds each unveiling. The demand for these releases are evident, with past editions selling out quickly and this release is likely to follow suit.
If you’re looking to entertain this festive season, or perhaps buy a special gift for yourself, then get in quickly as this whiskey is a must-have companion to your holiday feast.
– The Plus Ones
The Westward Vintage Muscat Cask limited release is exclusively available for Whisky Club members, but luckily anyone can sign up and secure their own bottle here.
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