Sector News

Diageo’s Distill Ventures acquires stake in whiskey brand Westward

September 13, 2018
Food & Drink

Diageo’s drinks accelerator Distill Ventures has expanded in the US single malt whiskey category with the purchase of a minority stake in Westward Whiskey.

Founded by Christian Krogstad at part of House Spirits Distillery, Westward Whiskey is brewed and distilled using Pacific Northwest barley and ale yeast, and mingled in small batches.

On a typical day, the distillery team brews 3,000 gallons of pale ale whiskey wash, which is double-pot distilled to produce enough whiskey to fill five to six new barrels of Westward Whiskey.

The investment by Diageo through Distill Ventures includes both the current distillery in Portland and the Westward American Single Malt brand and inventory.

Enabling capacity expansion of nearly 40% next year, the investment will allow the Westward brand to continue to meet growing demand using only whiskey that is produced from scratch at its Portland facility.

Westward CEO Thomas Mooney said: “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.

“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.”

Distill Ventures North America managing director Gonzalo de la Pezuela said: “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.”

Eugene Khabensky, ventures director at Diageo, added: “As a global spirits leader, we are thrilled when a high-quality brand like Westward joins the Distill Ventures family. As a company built from founder-led brands, we are excited to support two great new entrepreneurs, Thomas Mooney and Christian Krogstad, as they accelerate Westward to the next level. We believe this brand has the potential to thrive in the emerging American single malt whiskey category.”

As is customary with all companies that work with Distill Ventures, the founders and current investors of Westward Whiskey will retain majority ownership and continue to run the business independently.

The remaining spirits that have historically been under the House Spirits Distillery umbrella, including Krogstad aquavit, Volstead vodka, and Casa Magdalena rum, are not part of the investment but will continue to be produced at the Portland distillery and supplied through the existing distributor network.

Other brands which Distill Ventures has invested in include non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip and vermouth producer Belsazar.

By Jules Scully

Source: FoodBev

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