Starward – Tawny Cask

When it comes to the world of whisky, there are many more amazing drams to explore than just those of Scotland, Ireland, and the United States. Japan and Canada are major players in the whisky scene as well and recently we’ve seen countries such as Israel, The Netherlands, England, India, and Taiwan winning award after award. Another one of those countries to keep an eye on (whisky wise) is Australia. In Melbourne the Starward distillery produces a spirit that can rival many a Scotch, and this Starward Tawny Cask makes for an excellent example of exactly that.

When Starward was founded in 2007, David Vitale (the founder) set out to create a whisky that can be enjoyed by anyone. But more specifically, he wanted to create a whisky that would fit at the dinner table. In the company’s own words: “Our whiskies don’t come with airs and graces. Instead, they go well with food.”

In the near vicinity of Melbourne, the company was able to source some of the best wine casks in the world. In fact, all ingredients for Starward single malts are sourced locally. The Melbourne climate provides for a lot of interaction with the casks, which means that they can produce a stellar spirit in just four years.

What makes this Tawny Cask release extra special is that only a limited amount was made for this release. And the previous release was such a success that it sold out in a heartbeat. I personally love a good Port finish on a whisky and the combination with the initial maturation in red wine casks seems to have struck a magic chord for Starward. This dram turned out mouth-wateringly good and I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that I was able to include it in the Explorers Pack.

Tasting Notes: Starward – Tawny Cask

ABV: 50% (100 proof)

Age: 4 years Old

Casks: Matured in Red Wine Casks, finished in Tawny Casks.

Distillery: Starward Distillery

Category: Single Malt Australian Whisky

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes


While I was still letting the whisky rest in the glass for a little while, luscious notes of red fruit already beckoned me towards the glass. Usually, it’s peat that I can already smell at arm’s length, but here it’s strawberry, cherry, and raspberry. With my nose closer to the glass, I start to pick up on dried fruit as well. With soft notes of fig, date, and apricot. There’s a lovely layer of honey in there too. And some lovely spices that prevent it from becoming overly sweet. Cinnamon and especially nutmeg come to mind.


On the palate you can find a wonderful interaction between the sweeter elements of this dram and a fair bit of spiciness from the oak interaction. Cranberries, dried strawberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, and crushed peppercorn are the most noticeable notes. But there’s a bitter note in there as well. Tannins are noticeable on the palate and that’s what gives this dram its bitterness. But because of the sweet and spicy character of the spirit it doesn’t overwhelm. Instead, it adds to the balance and complexity of this whisky. You can also taste the red wine on the palate of this one when you look for it.


The finish starts out quite intense, with liquorice and cherry candy making a clear appearance. Those flavours are very intense at first, but unfortunately, they do fade away rather fast. The tannins linger a fair bit longer, but without the balance of fruit and spice it’s rather unremarkable. Still, that initial burst in the finish is wonderful. But you won’t mind taking a bite of food after a sip all too much. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Pairing whisky with food was Starward’s original plan te begin with after all.


Once again, I’m so thrilled that I was able to include this whisky in my Explorers Pack. This dram is very much my cup of tea. And it’s such a thrill to explore a whisky from a climate so different than that of the “usual suspects” (Read: Scotch). I think the Tawny Port finish worked wonders for this dram. Adding a layer of complexity that goes perfectly with the Starward spirit. This whisky does pack a punch though and its flavours can become a bit intense after a while. A dram that provides a lovely experience, best enjoyed one small glass at a time. (Or as Starward themselves see it: paired with a delicious meal).



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