Sometimes, less really is more… so don’t let the 375ml bottle fool you, because Westward Whiskey is a shot of solid, small-shop distilling craftsmanship from experienced hands.
House Spirits Distillery is located in Portland, Oregon, where it is quite a bit dryer than along the coast, and the the temperature swings a good deal more as well, being a bit hotter in the summer and colder in the winter. Why the weather report? Because it kind of matters in this case. You see, some of the science behind aging liquors is in the ebb and flow of the seasons. If you have decades to age your products, then more consistency can have a benefit. But for the stuff aging for shorter periods of time, a change of seasons and even a little agitation can be a good thing.
House Spirits was started by Christian Krogstad. Christian graduated from the Seible Institute of Technology—America’s oldest brewing academy—and then started his career working at local, west-coast craft breweries. Then he moved on to a vineyard for a number of years before setting up his own gig at House Spirits in 2004. His history will tell you quite a lot about the character of his products. There is a strong, blue-collar brewmaster ethos going on in everything he does. Today, his little Oregon-shop-that-could produces six signature spirits, including Aviation American Gin, Two kinds of Aquavit, Vodka, Westward Oregon Straight Malt Whiskey, and a coffee Liqueur.
There is no way around it … long before you crack the wax-sealed stopped on this new American malt Whiskey, the first thing that you notice is the half-sized bottle. Shake it off. Remember what Yoda says; “Size matters not.” Beside, this ain’t no Champagne split, this is a man’s drink. It’s real Whiskey made by a pro. It’s twice-distilled in copper pots and aged in lightly-charred new American Oak… full size barrels too. The entire mash is locally-sourced, malted barley and it is never chill-filtered. How does that sound so far? That’s what I thought.
After a few sips, more individual character comes though. One of those is the yeast they use in fermentation is Ale yeast. This lends a grassy, floral note the whole thing as well. And while lots of distilleries talk about “small batch” processes, this one takes the cake, making one batch at a time in order to give it full attention. Now that you know all of that, you might understand how the less-bulky packaging is more a reflection of the scarcity of product than it is anything else. Sometimes less really is more.