Recently a bottle shop that specializes in fine whisky here in Perth posted about a special tasting that was to occur, that in fact occurred last night.
This tasting was going to be 11 whiskies big, featuring 5 whiskies from Bruichladdich, 5 whiskies from Buffalo Trace and a new whisky, coming from a brand new Australian distillery that was releasing it's first bottling.
This would be New World Whisky Distillery, and the release was the Starward Single Malt.
Now I'd been hearing rumors for weeks, if not months now about this little distillery and this little whisky, about how good it was, how this whisky and this distillery just might change the way that distilleries in Australia operated.
Amusing enough I'd been talking to a beer blogger friend and customer of mine who doesn't care for whisky and she was telling me about this little distillery as one of the distillers used to be a brewer from one of her favorite breweries and how she'd just tried this whisky and it was hands down the best Australian whisky that she'd ever tried.
She couldn't remember the name, but after a few seconds I was able to guess and have it confirmed that she was indeed talking about the Starward.
She was amazed and amused when I informed her that I'd get a chance to try it this very night.
As soon as I get off work I grab a taxi and head straight for the tasting venue and get ready to enjoy my reward for a very long hard day.
I join my brother in law and a fellow whisky geek and Connosr friend, WhiskyBaz and there at our places is a series of 9 different whiskies, several empty whisky spots and there, sitting in the dead center of the tasting map, The Starward.
All of us immediately grab that glass and give it a nose.
Enjoyable and delicious! And even more fun an interesting blend of bourbon nose and sherry nose, but back to the tasting!
My beer blogger's distiller friend is introduced to the crowd and starts talking to us about this interesting new little whisky.
He talks abit about how the whisky is aged, barley strains, yeast strains, heaps of good information. He explains about how the majority of Australian whiskies that are produced are very small batch, single barrels, and that while being great whiskies, due to the scale of production and costs, tend to be very expensive and as most all single barrel/small batch expressions, prone to a batch variations between releases. On top of all of these issues that affect a sizable part of the Australian whisky community he mentions the problems with trying to put your hands on the whiskies themselves, the difficulty of trying to find some whiskies in some states and good luck trying to find oh so many Australian whiskies overseas.
He explains to us how he hopes that New World Whisky Distillery hopes to help change that by producing more affordable whiskies with less batch variations, and hopefully a whisky that can be found Australia wide.
Sounds good to me!
He then explains how Melbourne weather is pretty extreme, four seasons in one day, how it forces the whisky to work harder and speeds up the aging process, for those in the crowd who are swayed by age statements and then he informs us of the average age of the Starward single malt.
2.5 to 2.75 years.
Time for a nose and we'll see what we'll see.
Some bourbonish notes along with a hint of the sherry cask on the nose, very sweet with oodles of vanilla, toffee, toasted oak, caramel, bananas, pineapples, pears, raisins, and some slight citrus.
Heaps of fruits on the nose and like I said OODLES of vanilla. It's a youthful nose, but lots of fun.
Time for a taste!
Toasty oak, lots of it, burnt caramel, pepper, slight honey, vanilla, raisins, pears. Yummy!
A decent dry, slightly peppery, toasty oak finish ends the whisky, but faint fruit, pears again, lingers faintly in the background, inviting me to take another drink.
A very enjoyable whisky, one that reminds both my brother in law and myself of some of the entry level Speyside and Highland malt single malts. Glenmorangie is mentioned several times.
If you'd have told me this whisky was less then 3 years old I probably would have called you a liar. It feels much older then it really is and it makes me really eager to try an older expression out of this distillery, maybe a 4 or 5 year old, I think a 10 year old would be WAY too old considering how quickly the whisky matures.
And the best part for me is the price. Most Australian whiskies are too expensive to enjoy on a regular basis. When you're paying $150 to $400 a bottle you will oftentimes have a 3rd or even 4th thought about cracking open the bottle when you get home from work, but at $80 a bottle this is a whisky I wouldn't hesitate to crack open after a long day at work. If you get a chance to try this whisky, it's definitely worth a shot!