The mastermind behind Starward, David Vitale’s new approach to whiskey distillation has resulted in a spirit like no other
After working in a prominent Tasmanian distillery, David Vitale set out to create a whisky that brought together his love of food, family and reflected his home town of Melbourne – from its culture to its famed ‘four seasons in a day’ temperature swings. The acclaimed foodie capital became the birthplace of Starward, an Australian whiskey that was born from a drive and determination to capture the essence of Melbourne and its roots in a bottle.
“I wanted to offer the world a distinctly Australian whisky, with an ambition to be on the back wall of every self-respecting bar in the world,” says David. “Just like Australian wine, we want to take our distinctly Australian flavour, attitude and approach to whisky, to the world.”
Starward’s whiskies are created from ingredients that are sourced within a day’s drive of the city, and matured in Australian red wine barrels which deliver rich and complex flavours. The first whisky Starward released, Solera, is a twice distilled single malt whisky that is fully matured in Apera casks, an Australian fortified wine that’s similar to sherry. The second, Nova (initially named ‘Wine Cask’), is a fruity, double distilled single malt made with Australian barley and craft brewers’ yeast and has won multiple awards including being named the ‘World’s Best Craft Whisky 2016’.
Explaining the name change, David says, “We felt it was important to give each of our whiskies a personality that reflects the liquid in the bottle and provide an architecture for the range to grow. We felt it was fitting for the leading Australian whisky, that has received international accolades including Best Craft Distilled Whisky in the world, to have a name that reflects its status as a beacon of Australian whisky – Nova means bright star.”
Adding to the core range, Starward Two-Fold was launched in October 2018 and represented a landmark achievement for the Australian whisky category. The whisky – again entirely matured in Australian wine barrels – is made using Australian wheat and malted barley to create an approachable everyday whisky, making it accessible for both new whisky drinkers and connoisseurs alike.
Continuing to push the boundaries of modern Australian whisky, Starward also has two bottled cocktails, (new) Old Fashioned, an aromatic blend of Starward whisky, orange bitters and wattle seed demerara sugar as well as Red Manhattan, which was released in collaboration with fellow Australian craft spirit producer, Adelaide Hills Distillery, earlier this year.
For Christmas 2019, Starward has launched their first ever whisky pop up in Myer Melbourne’s Giftorium, offering consumers the chance to get their hands on Starward’s limited-edition ‘Personalise Your Own’ whisky, where a bespoke name and message can be added to each bottle creating a once in a lifetime gift. In addition, Starward has released another limited-edition whisky, Starward Tawny. With only 4,000 unique bottlings, this special Christmas whisky is Starward’s biggest limited-edition release to date and with notes of raisin, brown sugar, fig and dried orange, it’s the ultimate whisky for Christmas time.
If you’re ever in Melbourne, be sure to head to their distillery where they offer tours and tastings in addition to masterclasses where you can learn more about Starward and bottle your own whisky, straight from the barrel.