The Details

Rating 94
Style
Whiskey
Produced In Oregon
United States
ABV 43%
Availability Limited
Price $249.95 
Reviewed By
Review Updated 2024-07-02

Westward Whiskey Milestone American Single Malt Review

Oregon’s Westward Whiskey has been in business for nearly two decades, making it one of America’s oldest producers of single malt. In that time, it earned a reputation as one of most dependable distilleries in the space. But as the American Single Malt scene grows, so too does the temptation to differentiate and elevate. A recently nascent category is already getting crowded.

Enter Westward Milestone, the brand’s “first-ever annual luxury release.” This non-age stated single malt is blended with a 21-barrel Solera system and a slow proofing process, meaning water is gradually added to casks on the way to achieving a final bottling proof. Each year, some whiskey will be siphoned off for the annual Milestone release and replaced with other whiskey from Westward’s stocks.

According to master blender Miles Munroe, Westward’s team “integrated some of our oldest whiskeys with a selection of beautiful wine and wood finishes” into the Solera project. (Westward hasn’t released much more specific information regarding these finishes or ages.) Interestingly, this first release is bottled at a fairly low 86 proof. That’s likely to raise some eyebrows, especially given its $250 price tag and the American propensity for higher proof offerings.

There are around 1,500 individually numbered bottles of Milestone in this first release. In conjunction with the bottles, Westward is also launching the Milestone Society, “the company’s invitation-only community of enthusiasts, open exclusively to bottle holders.” Purchasers can join via a QR code that comes with the bottle packaging.

Given the similar release size, unique nature, and annual cadence, it’s easy to compare Westward’s new premium offering with Stranahan’s Snowflake. Whether Westward can build a similar cult following around its bespoke blend starts with what’s in the bottle. Let’s dive in and see how it tastes.

Westward Whiskey Milestone American Single Malt: Stats and Availability

Westward Milestone is intended as an annual limited release starting in late 2023. The first release included about 1,500 bottles, primarily sold through the brand’s website. When it’s gone, it’s gone — at least until next year, which will be a different blend.

With an MSRP of around $250, it’s the most expensive offering in Westward’s current lineup of expressions. Since it’s available exclusively through the company’s website, don’t expect any big retail markups unless things move to the secondary market. It’s unclear whether Westward will keep the annual releases around the 1,500 bottle mark.

Westward Whiskey Milestone American Single Malt: Review

As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.

Nose

A rich medley of fruits opens the nose, coupled with significantly more ethanol than one might expect from the whiskey’s 86 proof. Black and golden raisin, plum wine, fresh apricot, and passion fruit all vie for attention, their aromas pushing but not crowding each other out. Those elements are bolstered by sweet oak, more pronounced here than the majority of American single malts on the market.

Spice also comes out to play — allspice and coriander dancing with the ethanol heat, fruit, and lightly malted quality. The effect is ultimately one of rich, spiced, baking fruits and cobbler.

Additional time in the glass yields more and more possible influences from wine and other spirits. Picking apart the individual scents, I could conceivably imagine sherry, port, rum, and agave represented, in addition to a tiny bit of peat from Islay casks. One wonders exactly which cask finishes went into this solera project — and in which proportions. With the Solera setup, this breakdown will constantly change, even if the brand decides to release more specifics.

Taste

The first sip is complex to the point of tasting busy, with hefty mineral elements that quickly offset the fruit-backed sweetness. But don’t let that stop any drinker from a second sip, where the flavors coalesce to a remarkable degree; it’s almost like drinking a completely different spirit.

Tres leches-esque sweetness quickly dances from the tip through to the midpalate; other pronounced flavors follow thereafter. There’s a return of fruit, in this instance plum and dark, nearly artificial grape, along with candied pear and (once again) passion fruit.

Pecan and various other nut extracts follow with hints of both vanilla bean and nutmeg. The whiskey has a mildly spicy side that hides toward the sides of the palate, meaning it’s a relatively light set of notes that still linger through each additional sip.

For its 86 proof, Westward Milestone has an exceptionally substantive mouthfeel. It’s enough to carry each category of flavor, along with an appropriate amount of ethanol heat. At first, I raised my eyebrow at the thought of a “luxury” 86 proof American Single Malt. Consider my skepticism addressed.

Finish

Westward’s Milestone finishes with a final pop of tropical fruit (guava makes a late appearance). That’s followed by a refreshing tang akin to simultaneously biting mint leaves and fresh baked sourdough bread. Even later comes that spice, loitering under and on the sides of the tongue before ever so slowly making its way down the throat. What a ride!

Westward Whiskey Milestone American Single Malt Rating

94/100

Recap

Westward’s first entry into the luxury whiskey category comes out swinging. Milestone is a delicious and decadent American Single Malt with near-soaring highs and a few tiny flaws. It’s also notably flavorful for an 86 proof whiskey, perhaps beyond what most have seen in its category. I’d hesitate to call this the best — or even most exciting — American Single Malt release in recent memory. But it’s certainly in the conversation.

94
POINTS
Westward Whiskey Milestone American Single Malt
Oregon’s Westward Whiskey has been in business for nearly two decades, making it one of America’s oldest producers of single malt. In that time, it earned a reputation as one of most dependable distilleries in the space. But as the American Single Malt scene grows, so too does the temptation to differentiate and elevate. A recently nascent category is already getting crowded. Enter Westward Milestone, the brand’s “first-ever annual luxury release.” This non-age stated single malt is blended with a 21-barrel Solera system and a slow proofing process, meaning water is gradually added to casks on the way to achieving a final bottling proof. Each year, some whiskey will be siphoned off for the annual Milestone release and replaced with other whiskey from Westward’s stocks. According to master blender Miles Munroe, Westward’s team “integrated some of our oldest whiskeys with a selection of beautiful wine and wood finishes” into the Solera project. (Westward hasn’t released much more specific information regarding these finishes or ages.) Interestingly, this first release is bottled at a fairly low 86 proof. That’s likely to raise some eyebrows, especially given its $250 price tag and the American propensity for higher proof offerings. There are around 1,500 individually numbered bottles of Milestone in this first release. In conjunction with the bottles, Westward is also launching the Milestone Society, “the company’s invitation-only community of enthusiasts, open exclusively to bottle holders.” Purchasers can join via a QR code that comes with the bottle packaging. Given the similar release size, unique nature, and annual cadence, it’s easy to compare Westward’s new premium offering with Stranahan’s Snowflake. Whether Westward can build a similar cult following around its bespoke blend starts with what’s in the bottle. Let’s dive in and see how it tastes.

Westward Whiskey Milestone American Single Malt: Stats and Availability

Westward Milestone is intended as an annual limited release starting in late 2023. The first release included about 1,500 bottles, primarily sold through the brand’s website. When it’s gone, it’s gone — at least until next year, which will be a different blend. With an MSRP of around $250, it’s the most expensive offering in Westward’s current lineup of expressions. Since it’s available exclusively through the company’s website, don’t expect any big retail markups unless things move to the secondary market. It’s unclear whether Westward will keep the annual releases around the 1,500 bottle mark.

Westward Whiskey Milestone American Single Malt: Review

As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.

Nose

A rich medley of fruits opens the nose, coupled with significantly more ethanol than one might expect from the whiskey’s 86 proof. Black and golden raisin, plum wine, fresh apricot, and passion fruit all vie for attention, their aromas pushing but not crowding each other out. Those elements are bolstered by sweet oak, more pronounced here than the majority of American single malts on the market. Spice also comes out to play — allspice and coriander dancing with the ethanol heat, fruit, and lightly malted quality. The effect is ultimately one of rich, spiced, baking fruits and cobbler. Additional time in the glass yields more and more possible influences from wine and other spirits. Picking apart the individual scents, I could conceivably imagine sherry, port, rum, and agave represented, in addition to a tiny bit of peat from Islay casks. One wonders exactly which cask finishes went into this solera project — and in which proportions. With the Solera setup, this breakdown will constantly change, even if the brand decides to release more specifics.

Taste

The first sip is complex to the point of tasting busy, with hefty mineral elements that quickly offset the fruit-backed sweetness. But don’t let that stop any drinker from a second sip, where the flavors coalesce to a remarkable degree; it’s almost like drinking a completely different spirit. Tres leches-esque sweetness quickly dances from the tip through to the midpalate; other pronounced flavors follow thereafter. There’s a return of fruit, in this instance plum and dark, nearly artificial grape, along with candied pear and (once again) passion fruit. Pecan and various other nut extracts follow with hints of both vanilla bean and nutmeg. The whiskey has a mildly spicy side that hides toward the sides of the palate, meaning it’s a relatively light set of notes that still linger through each additional sip. For its 86 proof, Westward Milestone has an exceptionally substantive mouthfeel. It’s enough to carry each category of flavor, along with an appropriate amount of ethanol heat. At first, I raised my eyebrow at the thought of a “luxury” 86 proof American Single Malt. Consider my skepticism addressed.

Finish

Westward’s Milestone finishes with a final pop of tropical fruit (guava makes a late appearance). That’s followed by a refreshing tang akin to simultaneously biting mint leaves and fresh baked sourdough bread. Even later comes that spice, loitering under and on the sides of the tongue before ever so slowly making its way down the throat. What a ride!

Westward Whiskey Milestone American Single Malt Rating

94/100

Recap

Westward’s first entry into the luxury whiskey category comes out swinging. Milestone is a delicious and decadent American Single Malt with near-soaring highs and a few tiny flaws. It’s also notably flavorful for an 86 proof whiskey, perhaps beyond what most have seen in its category. I’d hesitate to call this the best — or even most exciting — American Single Malt release in recent memory. But it’s certainly in the conversation.

Reviewed On: 01-30-2024
94
POINTS
Westward Whiskey Milestone American Single Malt
Oregon’s Westward Whiskey has been in business for nearly two decades, making it one of America’s oldest producers of single malt. In that time, it earned a reputation as one of most dependable distilleries in the space. But as the American Single Malt scene grows, so too does the temptation to differentiate and elevate. A recently nascent category is already getting crowded. Enter Westward Milestone, the brand’s “first-ever annual luxury release.” This non-age stated single malt is blended with a 21-barrel Solera system and a slow proofing process, meaning water is gradually added to casks on the way to achieving a final bottling proof. Each year, some whiskey will be siphoned off for the annual Milestone release and replaced with other whiskey from Westward’s stocks. According to master blender Miles Munroe, Westward’s team “integrated some of our oldest whiskeys with a selection of beautiful wine and wood finishes” into the Solera project. (Westward hasn’t released much more specific information regarding these finishes or ages.) Interestingly, this first release is bottled at a fairly low 86 proof. That’s likely to raise some eyebrows, especially given its $250 price tag and the American propensity for higher proof offerings. There are around 1,500 individually numbered bottles of Milestone in this first release. In conjunction with the bottles, Westward is also launching the Milestone Society, “the company’s invitation-only community of enthusiasts, open exclusively to bottle holders.” Purchasers can join via a QR code that comes with the bottle packaging. Given the similar release size, unique nature, and annual cadence, it’s easy to compare Westward’s new premium offering with Stranahan’s Snowflake. Whether Westward can build a similar cult following around its bespoke blend starts with what’s in the bottle. Let’s dive in and see how it tastes.

Westward Whiskey Milestone American Single Malt: Stats and Availability

Westward Milestone is intended as an annual limited release starting in late 2023. The first release included about 1,500 bottles, primarily sold through the brand’s website. When it’s gone, it’s gone — at least until next year, which will be a different blend. With an MSRP of around $250, it’s the most expensive offering in Westward’s current lineup of expressions. Since it’s available exclusively through the company’s website, don’t expect any big retail markups unless things move to the secondary market. It’s unclear whether Westward will keep the annual releases around the 1,500 bottle mark.

Westward Whiskey Milestone American Single Malt: Review

As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.

Nose

A rich medley of fruits opens the nose, coupled with significantly more ethanol than one might expect from the whiskey’s 86 proof. Black and golden raisin, plum wine, fresh apricot, and passion fruit all vie for attention, their aromas pushing but not crowding each other out. Those elements are bolstered by sweet oak, more pronounced here than the majority of American single malts on the market. Spice also comes out to play — allspice and coriander dancing with the ethanol heat, fruit, and lightly malted quality. The effect is ultimately one of rich, spiced, baking fruits and cobbler. Additional time in the glass yields more and more possible influences from wine and other spirits. Picking apart the individual scents, I could conceivably imagine sherry, port, rum, and agave represented, in addition to a tiny bit of peat from Islay casks. One wonders exactly which cask finishes went into this solera project — and in which proportions. With the Solera setup, this breakdown will constantly change, even if the brand decides to release more specifics.

Taste

The first sip is complex to the point of tasting busy, with hefty mineral elements that quickly offset the fruit-backed sweetness. But don’t let that stop any drinker from a second sip, where the flavors coalesce to a remarkable degree; it’s almost like drinking a completely different spirit. Tres leches-esque sweetness quickly dances from the tip through to the midpalate; other pronounced flavors follow thereafter. There’s a return of fruit, in this instance plum and dark, nearly artificial grape, along with candied pear and (once again) passion fruit. Pecan and various other nut extracts follow with hints of both vanilla bean and nutmeg. The whiskey has a mildly spicy side that hides toward the sides of the palate, meaning it’s a relatively light set of notes that still linger through each additional sip. For its 86 proof, Westward Milestone has an exceptionally substantive mouthfeel. It’s enough to carry each category of flavor, along with an appropriate amount of ethanol heat. At first, I raised my eyebrow at the thought of a “luxury” 86 proof American Single Malt. Consider my skepticism addressed.

Finish

Westward’s Milestone finishes with a final pop of tropical fruit (guava makes a late appearance). That’s followed by a refreshing tang akin to simultaneously biting mint leaves and fresh baked sourdough bread. Even later comes that spice, loitering under and on the sides of the tongue before ever so slowly making its way down the throat. What a ride!

Westward Whiskey Milestone American Single Malt Rating

94/100

Recap

Westward’s first entry into the luxury whiskey category comes out swinging. Milestone is a delicious and decadent American Single Malt with near-soaring highs and a few tiny flaws. It’s also notably flavorful for an 86 proof whiskey, perhaps beyond what most have seen in its category. I’d hesitate to call this the best — or even most exciting — American Single Malt release in recent memory. But it’s certainly in the conversation.

Reviewed On: 01-30-2024