We don’t hear that much about whisky from Australia. The continent is known for excellent wine, and the Aussies seem to be adventurous folk.
Nestled in Melbourne is a distillery called Starward. I’m not a stranger to this distillery, and most of what I’ve experienced has been lovely. It was founded in 2007 by David Vitale, and the distillery is recognized for aging whiskey in red wine casks.
“Our Starward whiskies are a journey into a distinctively Australian spirit and the possibilities for New World whisky. Each whisky has the Starward stamp from our wine barrel maturation, yet each whisky differs and offers something new. From single malt to double grain, American or French oak influences or approachability and complexity. There's a whisky for every drinker.” – Starward
Starward hasn’t introduced a new whisky to the United States since 2019 – until now. Its latest expression is called Octave Barrels. If that piques your curiosity, read on. The whisky itself is Starward’s signature single malt. After distillation, that’s then aged in American oak barrels, which are only 100L, and formerly held its “The Octavius” Shiraz wine from Yalumba. Yalumba is the oldest family-owned winery in Australia, going back six generations. Starward first acquired these barrels in 2013.
Octave Barrels carries no age statement but is said to be about three years old. It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and packaged at 48% ABV (96°). Unlike most whisky bottles you see in the United States, this one is 700ml versus the standard 750ml. Don’t let that get in your way because 50ml is basically one shot. A bottle will set you back about $79.99.
Before I get to my review, I’d like to thank Starward for providing a sample of Octave Barrels in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.
Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this single malt whiskey looked like cinnamon sticks' color. A massive rim generated long, slow tears that fell back to the pool.
Nose: A whiff of seasoned oak was joined by raisin, cherry, plum, and caramel. When I drew that air past my lips, I tasted Bullseye candy and red wine. Those two sound weird, but they worked for whatever reason.
Palate: The texture was creamy and full-bodied. Blueberry, strawberry, and raisin coated the front of my palate, while caramel, marshmallow, and nutmeg took on the middle. The back offered flavors of seasoned oak, cherry, and cinnamon.
Finish: Bullseye candy returned and dominated the long, pleasing finish. It was toned with cherry and cinnamon spice.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The smaller cooperage was not an issue with this whisky. Perhaps it was due to it being vintage rather than new. The seasoned oak was different, I loved the fruity flavors (especially the blueberry), and those Bullseye candies have always been my favorite. Starward Octave Barrels hit all the nails on the head, and I can safely say this is one of the top whiskies I’ve tried in 2022. It steals my Bottle rating. Find it. Buy it. Enjoy it. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.