To everyone’s great surprise, Starward Nova is not the name of a new space exploration series on the Syfy Channel, but is in fact a new single malt whisky made entirely in Melbourne and aged for three years in un-charred Australian red wine barrels previously filled with Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir.
In the glass, it pours a mellow bronze with a slightly reddish tint. On the nose, it has strong notes of vanilla and oak, followed by more subtle traces of tannic red wine, wild honey, and white pepper.
From the first sip, the whisky presents itself as being light and mellow, crisp and sweet. Its initial notes are of soft oak, vanilla, and raisins. Toward the middle, a rich flavor of honey and caramel appears, which rolls itself to the back before being cut by cinnamon, white pepper, and lastly a deep note of tannic red wine. There’s no sudden burst of spice at the end, rather, a second line of subdued spice picks up where the cinnamon burst left off, slowly walking to a finish that’s both rewardingly spicy and comfortingly soft.
What struck me most about Starward Nova is the roundness of its character and the presence of its soft honey-caramel note, all while the spirit remains tannic and crisp. Some of that softness has to do with its relatively modest 41% ABV. That factor, along with its red wine characteristics, make it a whisky I could envision sipping at dinnertime and then continuing to enjoy in a leather armchair once the meal has concluded.
— 41% ABV