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The Starward Whisky Story

Creating a legacy by re-writing tradition.
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Ethos

Whisky for a curious, food-obsessed generation.

We're made in Melbourne. Not the outback. Melbourne is the foodie capital of Australia, where we ditch the airs and graces and focus on flavour instead.

That's why we use red wine barrels to mature our whisky. We source all our whisky ingredients from just a day's drive away. Then, in the wildly varied Melbourne weather, our whisky draws out its signature fruity, delicious flavour in just three short years. We call this elemental maturation and it's why we couldn't make our whisky anywhere else.

Our Founder

David Vitale is our founder and he started this mighty adventure with a simple vision; to create a uniquely Australian whisky we can offer the world with pride.

Growing up in Melbourne, in a big Italian family, he's always been food obsessed without ever getting too serious or formal about it. He wanted to make a whisky which feels right at home at those moments spent around the dinner table.

It seems obvious now that all the ingredients for a modern Australian whisky were close by. But, in 2007, when he first started, the idea of an approachable, affordable Australian whisky - served neat or as a cocktail with food - was a big leap of faith. David's early experimentation with Australian red wine and Apera barrels was him literally putting in all his (neutral) spirit into them. That's how something great starts, right?

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OUR HOME MELBOURNE

We make modern, progressive whiskies that speak to the place they're made - Melbourne.

You see, we're borne from the eclectic and innovative Melbourne food and beverage culture - influenced by the multicultural city and embrace the tenacity to always find something better. Our working distillery is in Melbourne's city centre and was named Icons of Whisky Australia Visitor Attraction of the year, 2019. It's home to some of the hardest working barrels in the world, with our full wine barrel maturation for 3 "Melbourne Years" - thanks to Melbourne's highly reactive climate.

If you're ever in Melbourne, come and visit us for a tour, masterclass or whisky tasting at the bar. Expect the whirring, murmuring hum of our stills in action. beside our bar, which is stocked with one-off project whiskies, cask strength tastings and an ever-changing cocktail menu.

Method

Rules aren't our thing usually. But there are a few guiding principles we stick by.

The first is flavour.

We chose Australian malted barley, fermented with brewers' yeast for Nova and Solera because of the tropical fruit character it gives to our whisky. Then for Two-Fold, wheat's dry, aromatic character offered perfect balance.

The next is provenance.

We source every ingredient from just a day's drive away. By working closely with growers, winemakers, farmers, traders and maltsters we keep an eye on new varieties to make sure Starward produce is the best quality produce possible.

Then intervention.

We carefully select barrels from nearby wineries for a minimal intervention approach. As it's a quick turnaround between barrels being disgorged then filled with our whisky, barrels only need a quick cleansing blast of steam or light char before being filled with spirit.

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Maturation

Australian winemakers had the audacity to take on the old world of wine. So why couldn't we do the same with whisky?

Whiskies had used wine barrels as a starter or a finisher before. But no-one had clocked the packs-a-punch flavour you can extract from full wine barrel maturation. We felt it was time to go big, or go home.

We carefully select wine barrels that are soaked in flavour. Think bold, full-bodied Aussie reds like shiraz and cabernet for Two-Fold and Nova. Or rich fortified Apera for our Solera.

Then, Melbourne's weird and wonderful weather takes over. Blasts of arctic breeze from the south and harsh desert winds from the north have given our city a reputation for experiencing 'four seasons in a day'. The weather does incredible things to our whisky, as the fluctuating temperatures means our whisky interacts with the barrel at a much more rapid rate than it would in Scotland. It's also a lot drier here, which increases our whisky's ABV instead of decreasing it. This means the weather would ruin our drop if left for much longer (trust us, we tried).