And now for something a little different – Australian whisky from Starward. The Melbourne-based distillery is influenced by the culinary innovations from Australia’s foodie capital. Add to that the vast amount of wineries nearby and climate ripe for quick maturation and you end up with a distillery that’s uniquely Australian. Let’s take a look at two of their expressions.
Starward Nova is a 2-year-old single malt whisky that matured in Australian red wine casks. Because of the continent’s climate, whisky maturation in Australia is more akin to that of Kentucky than Scotland. The wine casks used here were not charred. The brand says they were instead steamed, retaining the penetration of wine into the barrels. Nova is bottled at 41% ABV.
The nose is bright and full of lush red fruit, sweet malt, vanilla, and a hint of caramel. Rich and mouth-coating, Nova is impressive on the palate. Stewed red fruit and wine notes meet creamy vanilla. The influence from the wine cask maturation really comes through. A touch of wood spice on the back palate leads to a clean, medium-length finish with hints of strawberry jam and cardamom.
I love the red wine cask maturation here, and how it does not overly sweeten the whisky. Nova drinks heavier than its low ABV suggests, but maintains a brightness that makes it a great whisky to bust out at a picnic. It’s fruity, malt, and quite tasty.
Two Fold from Starward is also a 2-year-old whisky matured in Australian red wine casks. That’s where the similarities end. Two Fold starts with malted barley and wheat in its mash bill.
The nose is at a delicate balance between fruit and grain, with buttered wheat toast, red berries, vanilla and some spice. Two Fold’s palate is a touch sweeter than Nova. Sweet wheat, red apples and raspberries are met with a soft caramel undertone. Hints of spice and slightly astringent oak lead to a short, fruity finish.
Two Fold is more grain-forward compared to Nova. It feels more rounded in flavor, but tastes younger (think vibrant and sweet, not ‘green’) thanks to the inclusion of wheat. Two Fold might appeal to American whiskey drinkers looking to expand their palates. All in all, Two Fold is a flavorful, fruity whisky that shines a little light on its grain notes.
Good on you, Starward. The unique approach to maturation exudes terroir, as only an Australian distillery can pull this off. I’m truly excited to see where Starward has in store for the future.
Thanks to Starward for the samples. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.