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Meet David Vitale, founder of Australian whisky Starward

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Unsurprisingly, Vitale faced a sceptical traditional market who were used to associating luxury and scarcity with older whiskies. Vitale shared: “It took a long time for us to convince people that good quality and great tasting whisky can be made in a shorter time frame because one Melbourne year is very, very different from one year in Scotland.” The city’s volatile weather, where cold Antarctic blasts and hot northern desert winds cause the barrels to expand and contract at a much faster rate, infuses the whisky within with distinct red fruit notes and a deep amber-burgundy colour that is often found only in older whiskies.

The brand’s bold and playful approach with a local bent has led to creative products from canned cocktails to small-batch whiskies like the Sticky Toffee Apple finished in American apple brandy barrels. Starward has also partnered Melbourne’s Her Bar to create a 40 per cent ABV whisky infused with floral honey from the Mornington Peninsula and worked with Mr Black, a Melbourne coffee liqueur producer, to create a bottled coffee Old Fashioned.

During a pairing dinner in October, we sampled six Starward whiskies, including the latest release made with Islay’s Lagavulin distillery, one of the oldest on the Scottish island. After the whisky was matured in red wine barrels, it was finished for another 18 months in peated Lagavulin barrels. It was an intriguing smoky and fruit forward spirit with hints of sea brine and a herbal finish – a very apt night cap.



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