Most of you know that Eddie and I are both wine and whisky fans, so we were thrilled to try a little Shiraz wine along with a lot of Australian whisky (all aged in wine casks) in a Zoom meeting via the Southern California Whisky Club:
We are delighted to welcome David Vitale, the founder (and maker) of Starward Australian whisky, for a virtual Masterclass. Founded in 2004, in an airport hangar in Melbourne’s Essendon Fields, the Starward distillery has built a fine reputation over the years. Inspired by Melbourne’s foodie culture, Starward has developed a world-class, premium whisky that challenges people’s perceptions of what whisky can be. The distillery is focused on 3 things: whisky, culture and flavor. Starward has embraced its Melbourne roots, maturing almost all of their whisky in big, Aussie red wine barrels, and even Apera casks (basically sherry, except they can’t call it that). Although they have a foot firmly in the single malt world, they’re also not afraid to draw outside of traditional constraints.
From Vitale and Sean O’Connell, Starward Whisky Brand Ambassador:
- Vitale said that “single malt is craft beer grown up” and he began his journey into scotch with Johnny Walker Black and Chivas as his “repertoire of whisky.”
- All of their whisky hits their sweet spot at 3 years of age, there are no aging years shown on the bottles.
- Water is added before aging, so they are aging the water, but it makes for a better product Vitale said.
- Bourbon is the number one brown spirit in Australia.
- If you want to know when their whisky is released you can register at their website (below) or check with Wally’s (also below).
The line-up (my tasting notes are in bold)
- Penfold’s Bin 2 Shiraz Mataro (2017, South Australia) – The wine, with 14.5% alcohol was spicy and filled with dark tannic fruit, quite quaffable and a great palate cleanser before tasting all the whisky.
- Starward Two-Fold (wheat + malted barley / red wine barrels) 40% ABV – No burn on the nose, sweet, kernel, buttercream chocolate, Bourbon like.
- Starward Nova (red wine barrels) 41% ABV – Again, no nose burn, pineapple, lemon bar, cream and toast with lots of spice on the palate. This was my favorite, but I really liked all of them.
- Starward Solera (fortified wine barrels) 43% ABV – Aged in Apera (like a Sherry) casks, menthol, pine needles, creamed corn, dried fruit with a lot of spice and cream in the long finish.
- Starward Wally’s Single Barrel Cask #3330 55.6% ABV – Didn’t need to really add water to the previous tastes, this one I definitely did though. (Water opens up flavors and aromas in whisky, also lessens heat.) This was a barrel chosen and carried by Wally’s. Tobacco, sweet cream, florals, huge flavors. This was Eddie’s favorite.
- Starward 10th Anniversary 52% ABV – Lots of cream again, apricot, suede with flavors that included spices, dried fruit and caramel.
+ Violet Crumble bar (Australian honeycomb toffee coated in chocolate) Eddie tried to steal both bars, this stuff was like crack, especially paired with the whisky!
Starward Australian Whisky website [link]
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.