15 moments that made Starward
Birthdays aren’t only a time for celebration, but also reflection – and that’s exactly what we’re doing (whilst pouring a glass of Starward and giving ourselves a well-earned pat on the back). Here, we’re covering the moments on the 15-year journey that led us to where we are today. Of course, we are nothing without you – the whisky-drinking, cocktail-shaking, Starward-sharing friends who’ve come along for the ride. So, thank you. Here’s to 15 more.
Where it all began…
Essendon fields, in an old Qantas aircraft hangar, to be exact. David Vitale, Starward’s founder, converted the space and it became Starward's first ever distillery. It was here that he decided to take a gamble and mature whisky in an Australian red wine barrel. Sure, it was only one barrel of whisky – but one barrel is all you need! Over time, that barrel multiplied and many of the original barrels remain foundational to the whiskies we produce today.
The first drop
Welcome to the world, Solera! Our first-ever whisky! It was love at first sip. Solera takes a cue from traditional whisky making and is matured in decades-old Australian apera barrels which produce rich, sweet and dried fruit notes. We’re not afraid to admit we went a little rogue with this one – we borrowed from tradition, and then started asking questions. Those questions led to something pretty magical, but don’t take our word for it – try it for yourself.
Melbourne weather, we couldn’t have done it without you!
When we think about the ‘moments’ that made us, we would be remiss not to mention a big part of the whisky-making process: Melbourne’s weird and wild weather! 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. And those fluctuating temperatures mean our whisky interacts with the barrel at a much more rapid rate than it would in Scotland.
Nice to meet you, Nova
We have arguably some of the best red wine barrels in the world in our ‘backyard’ (hello, Yarra Valley and Barossa) and with the quality of ingredients and materials available within a day’s drive from Melbourne, we tried something new and never looked back. That’s how Nova came about: our Starward signature single malt, which is fully matured in red wine barrels and deliciously balanced and bold.
Two-Fold is too good not to share
Approachable, easy-to-drink and modern: that’s Two-Fold. 2018 was the year that it hit the market. For Starward, Two-Fold represented the utmost approachability and versatility. Whether it's mixed in a spritz or sipped next to a backyard BBQ, Two-Fold truly shines when it's shared and enjoyed. May we suggest trying it with tonic and a slice of grapefruit? Life changing.
The ultimate dinner guest
Taking inspiration from Melbourne’s foodie culture, David wanted to craft a whisky which would be enjoyed and shared around the dinner table. After all, why should wine have all the fun? The idea to craft a whisky which is versatile, approachable and smooth was what started Starward and what helped shape our red wine barrel program, even our grain selection. This is food-friendly whisky at its best.
Coming out of Left-Field
Our whisky is all about showcasing the best ingredients Australia has to offer. We wanted to see what Starward expression we could put to barrel which would showcase these, plus offer something special for the European palate. Enter Left-Field(UK site ok?). This unique single malt is matured in 100% French oak casks to give a rich and spicy mouthfeel, and to enhance the complex oak characters while maintaining the delicate Australian wine flavours.
Here’s where things got even more experimental! Enter, Fortis. The culmination of years of experience and experimentation both in whisky and wine. As our fourth addition to the core range, Fortis was a whisky filling a gap, one that whisky lovers all around had been asking for. Our first higher-strength release – at 50% alcohol (ABV) – offers a rich intensity and pure expression of Starward’s signature red wine barrel maturation. Go bold or go home, right?
Shoutout to the barrels!
It might sound obvious, but we really couldn’t have gotten to where we are today without barrels to mature the whisky in. You only have to walk down the many aisles of our Port Melbourne Distillery’s barrel hall to appreciate not only their presence but the pivotal role they play in the process. We want our red wine barrel influence to continue to be the star of the show.
Oh hi there, Peated Finish! Nice to meet you. This release from our Project program fuses new world whisky with traditional Islay peated casks. Peated Finish spent around 18 months in heavily saturated, peated casks (after first maturing in our red wine casks) which results in a deep, smoky finish that pays homage to the barrels’ Scottish provenance — all perfectly balanced with Starward’s quintessential bright tropical fruits. Mmhmm!
Starward goes global
The ‘moment’ we started sharing Starward’s Melbourne-made whisky with the world was a day to remember. This year marked our official launch into the U.S.A and we also continued to build our brand globally by sharing the love with Europe through our Left-Field whisky.
At home in Port Melbourne
Bam! Starward becomes the fastest-growing Australian whisky distillery. We moved into our new home in Port Melbourne so we could really stretch our legs and focus on enhancing sustainability through next-gen engineering and equipment (to use less water, power and gas).
Bringing the bar home
In the words of Starward founder David: “Neat pours aren’t everyone’s cup of tea,” which is why we bottled the classics that let you find your own way into whisky. We wanted to bring the magic of everyone's favourite bars into their own homes; these are our ‘new world’ take on some cocktail classics. They’re easy and delicious – and you don’t have to play bartender all night when you crack one open.
We were awarded the Most Awarded Distillery of the Year at 2022 The San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the TASTEMASTER at the 2022 World Whisky Masters. What a moment, what a reason to party. Even though this is at the end of this story, it’s actually just the beginning…
Happy Birthday, to us!
We’ve officially made it to 15, and to celebrate such a momentous occasion we’re releasing Vitalis: a single malt whisky which represents Starward’s journey to date. Named after our founder, David Vitale, it marks 15 years since David took a gamble that totally paid off. We’ll drink to that!