Australia deserves its reputation for fabulous wines and – yes – whisky! So why not combine? While Tasmania dominates, Starward prove you can be in Melbourne and deliver something worthy of attention with distinction – by consistently maturing their whisky in wine barrels.
So when this wee sample showed up as a “bonus” with a larger whisky order, I was delighted to have a chance to check out how this distillery has evolved.
Starward Two-Fold Double Grain 40%
- Colour – Reddish copper, even a bit of sediment
- Nose – Clear influence of the wine casks, rich dried berries, coffee toffee sweets, creamy vanilla
- Palate – Sharp, intense, dark fruits and berries, dark chocolate, tannins
- Finish – Spice, red wine, bitter close, lingers
It was a bit hard to imagine this was only 40%… the flavours were much sharper and more intense. Certainly young but interesting. A definite departure from a classic Scottish dram – a bit edgier and funkier, in a good way.
What do the folks at Starward have to say?
Smooth, tropical, lightly spiced.
An Australian double-grain whisky. For depth, we use malted barley, just like our Nova. For an aromatic, dry flavour, we use Australian wheat.
Lightly charred or steamed barrels. Sourced from Australian wineries that make great shiraz, cabernets and pinot noirs. Often filled fresh when the barrel is still wet with wine. We mature each whisky separately in Melbourne’s wildly varied climate, then deftly combine. Smooth as silk. Spiced vanilla, tropical fruits and cereal characters rounded with red apples and berries.
Here are their official tasting notes:
- Nose / Bright red berries coated in buttery vanilla spice.
- Palate / Imagine a smooth, rich caramel dessert balanced by tropical fruit.
- Finish / Delicate and long. A delicious, dry finish from a faded sweetness.
They go on to add:
We carefully select barrels from vineyards making great Aussie reds like shiraz, cabernet and pinot noir. These give our new make spirit tasty fruit, caramel and spice notes. To keep as much of a fresh red wine flavour profile as possible, we source barrels from just a day’s drive away. We either lightly char or quickly blast barrels with steam. Many are still wet with wine when we fill them. Flavour obsessed as ever, we fill each barrel at a lower alcohol proof than is traditional. This means our whisky draws more lip-smacking red wine fruit characters and tannins.
Then, it’s time for Melbourne’s climate to shine. Or, rather, rain and shine in a wildly unpredictable way. Famed for its ‘four seasons in a day’, Melbourne’s fluctuating climate means Two-Fold extracts more flavour from the barrel in a much shorter time than is traditional. After just three years, both barley and wheat whiskies are ready to be expertly combined.
At approx Eur 40, it isn’t as pricey as some other Starward’s we’ve come across… Here are a few earlier explorations of Starward:
- Starward New World Whisky 43% (~2016) WL
- Starward New World Project Wine Cask 2.25 year (8 Aug 2017) malted barley spirit batch 170721-A 42%
- Starward Nova 41%
- Starward Solera (2018) 43%
- Starward 10th Anniversary 52%
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