Starward is an Australian malt barley whisky that has been inching its way into the U.S. markets over the past several years. (We reviewed a couple of their releases in 2019 and 2020.) Hailing from foodie-centric Melbourne, Starward sources the grains and supplies from local farms and merchants, along with the wine barrels used for aging from local vineyards. The latest expression is the inaugural American release from the new Starward Projects series. The single malt is aged in barrels from the Yalumba Winery’s luxe The Octavius Shiraz, with no age statement offered.
Let’s take a peek.
The nose is bursting with plum compote and smoked cloves. It is distinctively sweet and spicy, with a slightly peaty undertone. On the palate, leathery dry cinnamon sticks are accented by green apple, nut shells, and cocoa. The bitter, nutty bite lingers longest in the finish, with slightly unripened cherries clinging to to the tongue as the faintly sweet fruit note balances out the profile. This expression tends to lean towards bitter and spicy elements, but it has a dense, fruity character that tricks the mind into thinking it’s sweeter than it is, tempering some of the edginess. The whiskey maintains the sharpness and earthiness of a traditional Scotch, while those dark, fruity notes serve as a complementary layer.
As an introduction to the Starward Projects, the Octave Barrels certainly leaves one piqued to see what they come up with next.