Whisky Review: Starward Nova Single Malt Whisky

, | November 1, 2019

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.

Starward Nova Single Malt Whisky

Starward Nova Single Malt Whisky (image via Melissa Jones/The Whiskey Wash)

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.

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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.

The Takeaway


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 Jones

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...