Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Starward. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
I bet when you think of whisky, Australia may not register immediately as being high on your list of places. They had a small but upscale whisky scene when David Vitale started Starward in 2007 with a mission to make more approachable and affordable Australian whisky inspired by the “big red” wines from Southeastern Australia.
Vitale is all about breaking the rules and paving a new whisky path with Starward Nova Single Malt Whisky. Not many distilleries would take a new spirit and put it straight into a wine barrel without re-coopering or re-charring but that’s what Vitale did. Most distilleries that use wine barrels would use them as a finish but not as a start to the aging process. Vitale sought to change things up with his locally sourced red wine barrels of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. He really wanted to capture a distinctly Australian flavor.
Making whisky in Melbourne, Australia also challenges the process with wide temperature swings daily and throughout the whole aging process. It’s not just put into a cellar but gets worked by the heating and cooling of the climate, causing the ABV to go up and not down like a traditional Scotch whisky. This is what Starward has termed “Elemental Maturation” in case you were wondering when you saw it on the label.
Starward Nova Single Malt Whisky may be a relatively young whisky from a lesser known whisky region but it’s definitely challenging the status quo. If someone liked red wine this might be a good way into the whisky world. Starward Nova is their first expression to be sold in the USA.
Tasting Notes: Starward Nova Single Malt Whisky
Vital Stats: 82 proof; single malt Australian whisky; elementally matured for two years in red wine barrels; prices around $55 per 750 ml bottle.
Appearance: Burnt umber
Nose: It’s not a strong smell but there are light hints of caramel and orange. There’s a slight smokiness with earth and wood as well.
Palate: The taste is very buttery and smooth but not strong on flavor. There’s a peppery and burnt orange finish sprinkled with a hint of berries.
Starward Nova Single Malt Whisky is overall very smooth but there’s not a lot of complexity in flavor. It’s sweet and a little bit bitter at first. The finish is a bit more complex with a little pepper and smoke aftertaste. It’s a very sippable whiskey. Starward Nova also makes a great cocktail.
Upon the recommendation that came with the press kit I mixed it with tonic water and a grapefruit garnish. It was very light and refreshing. I would definitely drink that in the summer.
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Melissa D. Jones is a traveler, blogger, photographer, storyteller, foodie, whiskey lover and creative entrepreneur. Living for adventure and new experiences she's photographed her way around all 50 states and 47 countries (still counting!) and wrote her travel knowledge into a book. When she's not traveling you can find her...