Spirit Of The Week: Westward ‘Vienna Malt’ American Single Malt Whiskey

A happy accident results in yet another uber-creative Oregon whiskey.

(Westward Whiskey)

Westward continuously show innovation in their limited-edition offerings and wild experimentations. The last Spirit of the Week bottle we featured, Westward x Ken’s Artisan Sourdough Whiskey, was the result of creative brainstorming, Pacific Northwest relationship-building and carefully planned fermentation. The latest from the Westward bar shelf is simply the result of dumb luck. 

As the story goes, Westward’s grain supplier mistakenly delivered two-row Vienna malted barley to their Portland, Oregon distillery instead of their usual two-row pale barley. This left Master Blender Miles Munroe and his team of brewers-turned-distillers with a conundrum of sorts. 

Except it really wasn’t—the solution was easy: Brew some of their mash with the Vienna malted barley and see what happens. 

“Largely unexplored by whiskey-makers but prized by brewers for its red color and rich, full-bodied character that appears in Oktoberfests and some IPAs, using Vienna malted barley empowered us to create a well-rounded whiskey with notes of biscuit, honeyed malt, and rich caramel,” the Master Blender explains. 

“Thanks to our roots as craft brewers and our desire to push the boundaries of traditional whiskey-making, we’ve ventured into the unknown and brought back something special.”

So they blended some of their signature Westward Original American Single Malt in with the “happy accident” Vienna Malt single malt and created the latest limited edition offering for their Westward Whiskey Club—the largest and most nationally distributed whiskey club from any craft distillery.

Beyond the flavors mentioned by Munroe above, expect other interesting notes like coconut macaroon and banana pudding, with aromas of McIntosh apples and banana bread. 

Westward Vienna Malt is bottled at 45% ABV (90 proof), with a SRP of $100. While it’s initially only available at their Westward Whiskey Club, it can also be found in the aftermarket for considerably more (However, we do suggest signing up for one of the club’s two tiers.) 

Follow Deputy Editor Nicolas Stecher on Instagram at @nickstecher and @boozeoftheday.