Review: Starward Nova Australian Whisky

Review: Starward Nova Australian Whisky

Fans of world whisky should be excited that a new option has recently made its way to our shores: Starward Nova, a single malt that hails from Australia.

Here’s what we know about it:

Starward is an Australian whisky completely made in Melbourne, and what sets it apart from other world whiskies is that it is completely matured in un-charred, Australian red wine barrels.

The first whisky from Starward that will be available in the US is called Starward Nova, which is a single malt whisky aged in Australian red wine barrels for 3 Melbourne years – a term that is reflective of Melbourne’s four seasons in a day climate. (The label says two years. -Ed.)

The barrels are from local wineries producing Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, and they experience minimal intervention and are wet-filled to maximize the flavor of the wine permeated into the oak. Its flavor profile means this is a whisky intended to be enjoyed with food.

In sampling Starward Nova, it’s immediately a curious experience. The nose is slightly unexpected, a malty, grain-heavy character cut with gentle notes of honey and golden syrup. A slight herbal edge — thyme, I think — is evident here, too. On the whole, however, the aroma reminds more more of an Irish single malt than anything else.

The palate diverges to some degree, starting with a slightly gummy texture — something that’s common (though not ubiquitous) in red wine-finished or fully-aged whiskies. Notes of nougat, almonds, and a doughy pretzel character inform the bulk of the flavor profile. There’s minimal fruit here, oddly, with a tannic, old wine character lending the whisky a surprising austerity. The granary character becomes quite heavy over time, ultimately reminding me of a hearty rye bread as the finish develops.

Interesting and unusual? Absolutely — but I’d be much more inclined to gravitate to this whisky if it was a bit less brooding.

Review updated to clarify it is fully matured in red wine casks, not finished.

82 proof.


Starward Nova Australian Whisky




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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