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Australia’s Starward Whisky Releases New Single Malt Octave Barrels

Australia’s Starward Whisky recently debuted a single malt that celebrates what’s described as whisky craftsmanship and Australian winemaking.

Starward Octave Barrels Single Malt Whisky looks to extend Starward’s red wine barrel maturation practices, and this new expression uses some of what’s described as the world’s oldest Shiraz wine barrels from one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries to create a unique Single Estate Australian Whisky.

Octave Barrels, recently awarded a Double Gold medal at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, speaks to what’s noted as Australia’s wine heritage and the progressive barrel policy used to make all of Starward’s distinct red wine barrel-aged Australian whiskies.

Starward Octave Barrels
Starward Octave Barrels (image via Starward)

With flavors built from Yalumba’s old vine Shiraz, a statement from Starward’s distillers notes that Octave Barrels is an intense, different whisky that pushes the boundaries of whisky making.

The distillery has a relationship with Yalumba that stretches back to its beginnings, with Starward’s first batch of whisky aged almost exclusively in Yalumba wine barrels.

This will be the first release in the U.S. from Starward Projects, a program that encourages Starward’s distillers to experiment with different whiskies and barrels to create flavor-forward and unique expressions.

To be exact, Starward Octave Barrels is matured in 100L octave-sized barrels that previously held Yalumba The Octavius, a Shiraz wine that’s specifically aged in these specialty sized barrels.

Once The Octavius is bottled, freshly emptied barrels are sent to Starward’s Melbourne distillery and filled with Starward’s new-make spirit that will become their signature single malt whisky.

The smaller volume of these barrels, handcrafted from American oak, creates what’s felt to be more wood-to-whisky interaction compared to standard sized wine barrels. This allows the single malt whisky to soak up more of the characteristics of The Octavius Shiraz as it reaches full maturation.

“This is a story of provenance; our first real deep-dive into the world of red wine cask maturation started with Yalumba,” said Starward founder, David Vitale, in a prepared statement. “The generosity of the Yalumba winemakers and coopers to share their knowledge and give us access to these casks back in 2013 allowed me to fulfill my ambition of creating a distinctly Australian whisky that we now offer the world with pride.”

Starward Octave Barrel clocks in at 48% ABV and is now available in limited quantities at select retailers and online in a 700mL bottle for a suggested retail price of $79.99.

Starward Octave Barrels distiller’s notes:

  • Color: Auburn.
  • Nose: Rich, full bodied expression. Red fruit, raisins, ripe peach, caramel and toasty oak.
  • Palate: Viscous and long, dark forest fruits, and a toasted oak backbone.
  • Finish: Toasted marshmallow on the finish.

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