Starward Whisky has been a favourite around the TWL (virtual) offices as they are pioneers of premium whisky at a more affordable price range, allowing more people to discover the category.
And while the special releases (e.g., Tawny Cask, Ginger Beer Cask), keep us coming back for more, there hasn't been a core range Starward just above entry level, for the more seasoned whisky drink. Until now!
Starward has teased us for the last week with partial descriptions of a new whisky, but today they have announced the full story! Starward Fortis is a single malt whisky aged entirely in American Oak red wine barrels, bottled at 50% abv in 700ml bottles with an RRP of $129. The Fortis will be a batch release with batch 1 of available exclusively through the Starward website starward.com.au, from Monday 3rd August.
FORTIS, meaning ‘brave, bold’, is a Single Malt Australian Whisky which champions Starward’s style and celebrates the Australian ingredients and climate. This whisky is matured in 100% American Oak wine barrels, predominately from the Barossa Valley which is famed for its powerful and bold red wines. Fortis’ distinct attributes come from these freshly emptied red wine barrels and the American oak char. Framed by its rich mouthfeel, enhanced vanillin and toasted oak characteristics whilst balancing the intense wine flavours that have soaked in.
Starward Founder, David Vitale on the release, “Fortis is the culmination of years of experience and experimentation both in whisky and wine. We are the global whisky experts in wine barrel maturation. Having access to amazing barrels on our doorstep and leaning on the talents of the winemakers on our team means we can really celebrate what it means to be an Australian whisky. This full bodied, full flavoured whisky - while quite different to our other releases – still shows all the hallmarks of our core range. Like our other whiskies it delivers on the promise of a distinctly Australian Whisky, one we offer the world with pride. I can’t wait to share each batch’s nuances and variations that bring to life our innovative spirit and the depth of barrels we source from Aussie winemakers.”
We got our greedy hands on a bottle just in time to write this announcement so can share our thoughts on it with you!
Summary Notes: A rich, thick, assertive, fruity vanilla bomb with some subtle spices to balance. Loads of vanilla and oak aromas, like an oaky vanilla syrup. Big fruit flavours with a long chewy vanilla finish.
Body - 7: It lands solid, but is light on its feet and teasing sort of way. The early heaviness, thick in the middle and light in the back, combined light oiliness pleasantly slips away to a chewy finish.
Length - 8: Quite a long finish, especially for a wine cask whisky. Gradually fades with a mouth-watering chewiness at the back of the mouth.
Burn - 8: No unnecessary heat. For 50% ABV it sits relatively softly on the palate, with a solid punch, but not too much to trigger an early departure.
Complexity - 5: More of a fruit and vanilla bomb than a highly-layered spirit. It’s almost quaffable in that there’s not loads going on, but there is just enough complexity to make you want to drink it slowly.
Texture - 8: Quote oily, but light and silky, not a thick and heavy one leaving a light oiliness on the lips. Extremely light tannins on the finish, making it nice and chewy on the finish.
Balance - 8: Very well balanced. No overly domineering flavours, no overly youthful malt or oak. The fruit and vanilla marry very nicely together.
Flaws - 9: Some overly intense gingery spice on the nose. But that’s nit-picking as it’s really difficult to fault this whisky.
Aroma Enjoyment - 7: Could definitely sit and sniff for a while. The fruit and vanilla make it pleasant, fruity whisky that still smells like whisky.
Palate Enjoyment - 7: Loads of vanilla, mouth-coating richness (neat, watered or on ice) and a long, sweet chewy finish. What’s not to like?
Overall Enjoyment - 8: Wine casks are hard to get right. This one does it. It’s new world, but doesn’t forsake what whisky really is. It’s easy to drink, but punchy and full flavour. And as an Australian whisky at 50% ABV in a 700ml bottle for just under $130, its excellent value.
Final Score - 75/100
We hope you enjoyed the info and it has helped you decide whether or not to buy a bottle! A big thanks to the people at Starward for giving us a sneak preview and allowing us to share this with anyone who cares.
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