Situated along Distillery Row in Portland Oregon, House Spirits Distillery was founded in 2004 by Christian Krogstad. Krogstad began his career in the alcohol industry as a brewer - shortly after graduating from the Siebel Institute of Technology (the Siebel Institute is America's oldest brewing academy), Krogstad began crafting beer at the Orchard Street Brewery in Washington. After Orchard Street, Krogstad worked at a vineyard for a number of years, before finally opening the doors to House Spirits Distillery nearly ten years ago.
Krogstad's distillery, which is situated in a 2,000 square-foot warehouse in Southeast Portland, is one of five independent distilleries along Distillery Row, an area of Portland known for producing craft spirits. Portland's unique location - it has access to an abundance of fresh, raw ingredients along with clean, crisp water from the Bull Run Watershed - have it made it a haven for small-batch distilleries.
After taking an investment from Joe Montana and experimenting with various types of spirits for nearly a decade, Krogstad distilled the first batch of Westward Small Batch Oregon Straight Malt Whiskey. "We have taken something rooted in tradition," says Krogstad, "and created an inventive, new style of whiskey that captures the terroir of the Northwest."
House Spirits Westward Small Batch Oregon Straight Malt Whiskey is made from 100% malted two-row barley grown in the Pacific Northwest. Once the barley has been harvested, it is milled and mashed before being fermented at Krogstad's distillery using an ale yeast known for its exceptional character. "We really focus on the fermentation," says Krogstad. "What has happened a lot in distilling over the last 200 years - since the invention of the column still - is that it helps clean things up. You're able to hide your mistakes with it. But we're not using column stills, but pot stills. So we can't hide our mistakes. It's important for us not to make mistakes in the first place." Once the barley has been fermented it is distilled twice through Krogstad's 400-gallon, copper-pot still.
Following distillation, the whiskey is matured in lightly charred, full-sized American oak barrels (the wood used to craft the barrels is sourced from trees from the Ozarks and is charred with a #2 char) for a minimum of two years. Due to Portland's unique climate - the city enjoys mild summers but suffers from grey, wet winters - the oak and whiskey are able to meld together in order to create a more robust and flavorful whiskey. Once the whiskey has matured, each barrel is brought to proof and bottled behind labels reminiscent of antique medicine bottles.
"Christian and I are whiskey lovers at heart, so it seemed only natural for us to take that passion and turn it into a uniquely flavorful malt whiskey that fellow whiskey lovers will enjoy," says Thomas Mooney, one of Krogstad's partners.
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90 (45% ABV)
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Medium amber color. Aroma of light barley, honey and vanilla. Notes of maple, cinnamon, ginger and dried fruits mingle with hints of oak and woody spice and lead to a lingering, sweet finish.