In September 2021 I was – for the second time – a guest at the whisky festival in sun-drenched Toulouse. One of the booths represented Starward (with a 'd' at the back, not to be confused with my favourite film series, please), the relatively young distillery from Australia – founded in 2007 and run by the sympathetic and I would almost dare say visionary David Vitale. This malt matured in French oak, barrels that had previously raised red wine. A strange idea. Unexpected. Something they describe in Australia as 'left-field', hence the name for this very affordable whisky.
The nose is fruity and sweet. Especially red fruit, but also beautiful tropical notes of papaya, mango and apricot. It’s even a tad candy-like. Think Haribo bears mixed with coke bottles (the candy, again). Underneath is a soft spiciness. Think cloves and a hint of saffron.
The body is a bit on the light side, but the alcohol is well integrated. This is soft, slightly seasoned and above all very sweet. Again red fruit and candy, again cloves and saffron. Midpalate it starts to dry your mouth slowly.
The French oak has clearly left its mark. This is especially reflected in the medium long finish. The mouth remains almost dry.
Nice, very affordable whisky from Down Under. And so I brought a bottle from Toulouse. Although I must confess that I found the Nova – also matured in red wine barrels, but from Australia – just a little rounder and better. By now, it is also available in our neck of the woods. Not even 35 EUR.