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Distill Ventures invests in American whiskey Westward

Diageo-backed accelerator programme Distill Ventures has invested in American single malt whiskey brand Westward.

The ‘grain-to-glass’ Westward American Single Malt Whiskey is bottled at 45% abv

The investment deal includes the Portland-based distillery, and the Westward American Single Malt Whiskey brand and inventory. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The funding will allow the distillery to expand capacity by nearly 40% next year to “meet growing demand”.

House Spirits Distillery produces the brand, along with Krogstad aquavit, Volstead vodka and Casa Magdalena rum. The deal will not include the remaining spirits, which will continue to be produced at the Portland site and supplied through the existing distributor network.

The founders and current investors of Westward will retain majority ownership and continue to run the firm independently.

Bottled at 45% abv, Westward American Single Malt Whiskey is distilled using malted barley from the Pacific Northwest and ale yeast. The brand is inspired by “American craft beer and whiskey traditions”.

The team brews 3,000 gallons of pale ale whiskey wash on a typical day, which is double-pot-distilled and then aged in new American oak barrels.

House Spirits Distillery was founded in 2004 by Christian Krogstad, and later helmed by CEO and co-owner Thomas Mooney.

According to the distillery, Westward is both the largest distilling operation in the Pacific Northwest and the largest craft distiller on the West Coast. The distillery expanded in 2015, with capacity increasing six-fold.

“We are thrilled to bring our Westward American Single Malt whiskey into the Distill Ventures family, an exciting and logical next step as we expand our brand across the United States and into export markets around the world,” said Mooney.

“This strategic partnership with Distill Ventures and Diageo brings deep production expertise, an enhanced route to market, and the capital that we need to realise the full potential of our Westward American Single Malt Whiskey programme.”

To date, Distill Ventures has invested more than US$75 million in 15-plus drinks brands including: Seedlip, the “world’s first” non-alcohol ‘spirit’; Danish whisky distillery Stauning; Australian whisky producer Starward; and German apéritif Belsazar, which Diageo acquired in March 2018.

Gonzalo de la Pezuela, managing director, Distill Ventures North America, added: “The Distill Ventures model offers the best entrepreneurs the opportunity to scale and grow their businesses independently with specialised acceleration resources on a global basis.

“Our team is deeply committed to working with strong founders like Westward’s Thomas Mooney and Christian Krogstad, who deliver on innovation and excel at brand building.

“Westward American Single Malt Whiskey is an unparalleled spirit that perfectly delivers on the vision of placing a US brand amongst the world’s most coveted single malts.”

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