STARWARD Distillery is home to a distinctly Australian whisky.
Founder, David Vitale, had always fostered a love of craft beers, but it wasn’t until he visited a distillery in Tasmania that he discovered his true passion – boutique spirits. He spent nine years researching and developing a recipe, experimenting and experiencing all the triumphs and challenges of maturating craft whisky.
Today, with a dedicated team of passionate brewers and ex-winemakers, equipped with an enormous collection of premium Australian wine barrels, STARWARD is producing an award-winning whisky that’s captured the attention of not only Australia but the world. It’s one of the drinks that is leading a community of craft-spirit makers to international renown, a movement driven by passionate producers and a public increasingly willing to try interesting drinking and dining experiences.
A key element that sets the whisky apart is the Australian red wine barrels that come from neighbouring wine regions such as Negambie, Barossa Valley and the Yarra Valley. While spirits leave the still clear – it’s the barrels that alter the whisky’s colour, aroma and flavour profile. By maturing the whisky in rich shiraz, pinot and table-wine barrels from Australia’s renowned viticulture regions, STARWARD’s whisky takes on a rich amber colour and a complex set of flavours and aromas.
This process has created a whisky that is garnering global accolades: STARWARD won Best Craft Distiller Whiskey at the San Francisco Global Spirits Competition, and took out Best Australian Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards in London. Finally, Australian craft spirits are pushing for international glory, just as our wines have done for decades, showing the world unique products that speak of their antipodean origin.
For some, the ‘four seasons in a day’ reputation is a downside to living in this city, but for STARWARD it is what helps set the product apart. Melbourne’s famously unpredictable weather pushes its whisky barrels to extremes. In David’s first distillery location, a former Qantas maintenance hangar in Essendon Fields, the team painted the exterior as dark as possible to exacerbate the effects of the stifling heat and winter chill.
The new site, an old manufacturing warehouse from the 1920s, is clad in dark metal to amplify the city’s temperature changes as well. As the barrels expand and contract, the wood imbues the whisky with unique characteristics.
STARWARD’s new Port Melbourne home is also open to the public. Take a seat at the bar as you look over the cocktails on offer, all designed to showcase STARWARD’s signature whisky. There are the classics including whisky sours and old fashioneds, along with a few unexpected twists. Try a Buck, just like a dark and stormy but with a bit of extra kick, or settle in with a Southside that boasts a touch of added whisky. Of course there’s always the option to keep things simple and enjoy your STARWARD on the rocks or even neat.
With barrels imbued with the history of local wineries and the whisky matured by the temperamental Melbourne weather, STARWARD is a quintessentially Australian product – a whisky to call our own. Made possible by a creative, innovative culture, a hospitality industry proud to support local producers, and demand for high quality drinking and dining, this is an elixir born of the best of Melbourne.