Starward Unexpeated

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The Story

Starward is a single malt whisky produced in Melbourne, Australia. It was established by David Vitale in 2007. Vitale had a keen interest in craft beer and home brewing. He was inspired by a meeting with Bill Lark and after touring Lark’s distillery he returned home to Melbourne with a vision. Melbourne is surrounded by some of Australia’s finest wine producers and the city home to countless microbreweries but there was no distillery.

Vitale converted an old airport hangar at Essendon Fields and employed local brewers to help him develop a new, modern Australian whisky. The team combined locally sourced brewer’s malt and yeast with wine barrels from local wineries to create unique flavour profiles.

Melbourne’s unusual weather also contributes to the whisky’s character. A mix of cold air from the south and harsh desert winds from the north, make for intense temperature fluctuations that impact the maturing spirit. Interaction between spirit and oak happens much faster than in Scotland, for example. That means whiskies take on more oak influence in a much shorter timeframe.

Thanks to an injection of funding from Diageo’s Distill Ventures in 2015, Vitale was able to expand. A new purpose-built distillery in Melbourne’s Docklands Project was established in 2016. As a result of the investment, Starward has been able to reach new markets, including the UK which it entered in 2018.

You can read previous reviews of Starward whisky at the links below…

The Whisky

Unexpeated is aged in red wine barrels before being finished in a cask that previously held an Islay single malt Scotch whisky.

It’s bottled at 48% and retails for around £80.

*I received this sample as part of a fully paid-up subscription to Whisky Pioneer. For more information visit

Smell: Lots of fruit jam. Raspberry, strawberry, blackcurrant. Plum. There’s also oak and woody spice. There’s ginger and cinnamon. Cloves. A touch of aniseed. Pepper. Liquorice. Dark honey. Only the slightest suggestion of smoke.

Taste: More of that fruit jam character. Jam doughnuts! Plummy red wine. Grape juice. Ginger biscuits. Toffee and caramel. Oak. Touch of smoke on the finish.

Thoughts: It’s very oak-led. In truth, the wine rather swamps the experience. That doesn’t mean it’s an unpleasant dram (it isn’t), it’s perhaps just lacking in a little balance. I enjoyed sipping on it but felt like the Islay cask didn’t bring all that much to the party. A little more peat might have added an interesting counter point to the wine. As it is, the Unexpeated makes for a big, bold fruity dram. A whisky I suspect some people will love and others will hate. I’m probably somewhere in the middle, leaning more towards the love side.

Value for money: Although I enjoyed it, I’m not sure I’m seeing a justification for the £80 price tag. I doubt I’d be tempted into buying at that cost.

If, for some reason, you wish to pick up a bottle of Starward’s Unexpeated Australian Single Malt you can do so by visiting Master of Malt.


*Please be aware that this is an affiliate link and as such I can be paid a small commission on any purchase you make.

**Other retailers are available.

For more information on Starward visit

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