Thanksgiving may look a little different for Americans this year, but the team from Westward Whiskey believes that with a bit of adaptability 9and a good dose of flavour) there is still a lot to be grateful for this year.
We spoke to three representatives of Westward, America’s most awarded Single Malt, about what Thanksgiving meant to them and what tips and trick they had for bringing a little of the North-West into your celebrations, no matter where in the country (or even the world) this Thanksgiving finds you.
When asked what Thanksgiving meant this year, Erin Hayes, Director of Partnerships at Westward, commented that for her, Thanksgiving has always been a time for reflection. “I think it will be especially important this year. Even though it was a year of hardships and sadness for so many, we all have something to be grateful for.”
Micah Anderson, Westward’s Brand Ambassador from Portland, echoed those sentiments, “I am thankful that my family is healthy and that I get to spend another holiday with them even if things are a little different.”
For Leanne Favre, Westward’s New York Brand Ambassador, gathering with the family will be more of a virtual experience than one in real life. “Thanksgiving is definitely going to feel different this year… no large gathers or travelling to see family… but we have more to be thankful for, more now than ever. This year I am staying in Brooklyn, cooking dinner with my partner and FaceTiming my family.”
But no matter where they are, all three will be incorporating Westward into their celebrations. For Favre, that means adding a little sweetness to the mix with her recipe for Spiked Whiskey Balls.
For these, she uses a food processor to grind 1 box vanilla wafers until they are fine, as well as 2 c pecans. To this mix, she adds 2 Tbsp cocoa powder and 1 c powdered sugar. Once these are combined, she recommends 4 Tbsp Karo syrup and 1/2 c Westward American Single Malt Whiskey. Once mixed thoroughly, she shapes them into balls, rolls them in granulated sugar and refrigerates.
Alternatively, Hayes adds a splash of Westward to her Cranberry sauce, as it adds a huge amount of flavour. “My mom makes the most delicious sweet potato dish with a glaze that has maple syrup, fresh orange juice and spices, and we also add a bit of Westward to that for some more complexity!”
For Anderson, who thinks he will probably spend most of the day cooking with his mom over Facetime and adding a little Whiskey to the Turkey glaze, Westward is the perfect option for those looking for an easy cocktail. So as not to take time away from. from his family, he builds a simple old fashioned in the glass with bitters and rich simple syrup.
“I think I might also try to do something like a boulevardier with Westward. Again it would be easy to just build in a glass and go, but it would change up the flavours a bit,” Anderson continued.
Hayes is also looking towards a riff on an OldFashioned for her holiday drink, although hers is a super tasty play on the classic that incorporates apple and spice. “Since I grew up in the Midwest, Fall always reminds me of everything apples! Spiced apple cider on a brisk fall day will forever remind me of childhood memories of Thanksgiving and the surrounding season!”
For her recipe, Hayes uses 2 oz. Westward Whiskey, o.25 oz Spiced Cider Syrup*, 3 dashes Angostura bitters, and an orange twist and grated nutmeg for garnish. To create the Spiced Cider Syrup, Hayes combines 2 cups Organic Apple Cider, 3 cinnamon sticks, 0.5 tsp whole cloves and halved vanilla bean over medium heat. She simmers these for 15-20 minutes, then stirs in 1.5 cups cane sugar until dissolved, before allowing it to cool.
“I love coming up with twists on classic cocktails” she explained, “especially the Old Fashioned. The Old Fashioned really lets the Westward shine and can just add a touch of sweetness. By playing around with what you use as a sweetener, you can create entirely new flavour profiles in such a simple and straightforward drink. I’ve wanted to try a Westward Stout Cask Old Fashioned with Date Syrup and a pinch of salt!
While Thanksgiving may be more difficult this year, as Hayes points out it is more about making the most of wherever you are and the people around you. “This year will be a small gathering of close friends cooking a huge meal together and enjoying some great wines and, of course, delicious whiskey!”