Australian Distiller Starward Launches Red Wine Cask Aged Whisky Stateside

By Katelyn Best / May 9, 2019

Australian distiller Starward has just announced its first expression to be sold in the US, Starward Nova, an Australian single malt aged in red wine barrels.

This expression “draws influence from the vibrancy of ‘big red’ wines from southeastern Australia,” according to the distillery. The Melbourne-based distiller sources barrels from local wineries that once held Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir, and the whisky matures entirely in the wine barrels, rather than merely being finished in them. According to Starward, the long contact with those barrels imparts a “light and fruity” character to the whisky, as well as a “long and spicy finish.”

Starward Nova

Starward Nova (image via Starward)

To Australians, Nova isn’t a new expression; it debuted back in 2016, and won several awards at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, including World’s Best Craft Distilled Whisky.

Melbourne, on Australia’s southeastern coast, has a climate well-suited to aging whisky, with wide daily temperature swings Starward founder David Vitale described as “four seasons in a day” in an interview with the Whiskey Wash several years ago. Vitale is a former business manager at a distillery in Tasmania, which, with its more temperate climate, is Australia’s most established single malt region.

“Starward began with a simple vision: to make a distinctly Australian whisky we could offer the world with pride,” said Vitale in a prepared statement. “I have long dreamed of being able to share our whisky in the U.S. It is a genuinely exciting time for the team as we take the next step on our Starward-bound journey.”

In 2016, Starward received an unspecified sum as part of Diageo’s Distill program, which invests in emerging whisky brands. We most recently saw Diageo do this with Oregon-based Westward Whiskey.

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The official tasting notes for Starward Nova are as follows:

  • Nose: Bright red berries, orchard fruits, soft oak spice
  • Palate: Vanilla and berries balanced with caramel and spice
  • Finish: Long, fruity and slightly tart with hints of baking spices.

It’s bottled at 41% ABV and retailing nationwide at a suggested price of $55.