Thanks to /u/georgejessel for sharing this dram with me.
Australia. A land that evokes rugged territory, vast impacts of conservative pants-on-head policies, rampant colonialism, and a smattering of animals that would kill you quickly. It also evokes a rough group of people who seem like they’d be buds with you, assuming you’re white.
So not too different from the USA and Canada, when you think of it. Only difference is who they kill and the average size of animals that kill.
The other thing that comes to mind is an interesting smattering of whisky releases to enjoy. I’m not going to sit here and declare another small, emerging whisky region as “the next best thing”. Why? Because every time that happens the poor place gets picked over like it’s the rise of the British empire all over again.
Enter Starward Malt Whisky, a whisky from Melbourne based “Starward”, which uses Australian barley, source everything from a day’s drive away, and aims to use barrels from nearby wineries. They are hyper ageing the whisky, aiming for at least 3 years in the cask and then bringing it out. We see similarities in neighbouring countries like Taiwan and India.
This is one of the first releases, and since then Starward has changed to single cask releases, their Two-Fold release, and generally growing. But where did it all start? Was this the jewel of a new distillery, or was this sold to help get them off the ground (and thus meant to raise money rather than showcase the future)?
Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $90 AUD
Colour: 2.5Y 6/8
Nose: Oak, pecan, old peach, lime, cloves
Woody, some nuttiness, and then some strong/bit old fruit notes. It’s starting to grow a tad. Reminds me of a younger malt, maybe even a younger American whiskey from a new distillery. Think it needs more time, but I’m not hating it.
Taste: Sand, peach, sunflower, cereal
Okay, some bit of brine and mineral, more stone fruit, and some cereal/seediness. I’m more interested now, because it’s growing beyond oak and simple, straightforward notes. So that’s setting it apart.
That said, not too complex, wish there was a bit more.
Finish: Oak, plantain, gummy bear, black pepper
Fruity, heat, and earthy/starchy flavour. Again, it needs a bit more time to work some of the flavours better, however it has enough difference to it that I dig it a bit more.
Conclusion: A nice sipper with lots of fruity notes. Look, normally a new distillery releases something to open a distillery that’s somewhere between bottom shelf and vodka. You buy it knowing that. Sometimes they throw us a bone and use a wacky cask to give us something close to flavoured vodka. And you pay a premium for it, knowing that it’ll lead to other whiskies.
This? This isn’t that, and that’s a compliment. It’s not in a wacky cask (that I can find or taste, maybe it was in a wine cask because that’s what they enjoy using but I’m assuming not, since I couldn’t find anything online that said that). It’s easy drinking, there’s no glue/rough elements save for a bit of the peach on the nose.
Could you buy something better for the price? Probably. This is a whisky that makes me want to see where the distillery is now, some 9 years later. It’s tasty enough and could be fun as someone who originally enjoyed them. Would I buy it at an auction? Only if I was insanely into the distillery. Let’s see what they are making now.
World Whisky review #435, Australia review #17, Whisky Network review #2244