[Review] Starward - Solera Reserve 48%

Something from Australia today, and yes, I did say Australia. Not the first country that would spring to mind when you think about whisky but a whisky producer nonetheless. There are actually a few distilleries in Australia, but the two I was aware of are Sullivans Cove and Starward. I never tried anything from Sullivans Cove but managed to to sample some Starward whisky at the Manchester whisky festival last year and remember being very positively surprised by what I tried. Looking for bottles around was not the easiest but I came across a bottle of Solera Reserve released exclusively for Selfridges in the UK. This is a limited release of their standard Solera but bottled at 48% and limited to only 300 bottles.

The label states that this release comes "direct from [their] Solera tank and is a reflection of the depths and complexity in [their] whisky." This allows them to create "a fruity, rich and bold whisky that is a hallmark of both the place it is made and the unique heirloom fortified wine barrels [they] source from some of Australia's oldest wineries." The fortified wine they mention is Apera which is the Australian equivalent of sherry.

There is no age statement on the 50cl bottle so I guess it is not that old. There is also no mention of filtration or colour on the bottle. At 48% abv, I would guess it is unchillfiltered and I feel the colour looks quite natural too (it is sherry cask matured in Australia after all...!)

So what does it actually smell and taste like?

Nose: Boozy, rich, a bit rum-like with caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit, candied fruit, sherry and raisins. There's also some savoury and spicy notes, oak wood, some almond as well as hints of rubber. very engaging!

Palate: Rich again, chewy, sweet and spicy with vanilla, toffee, sherry nuttiness, leather, dried figs, sandalwood, burnt rubber and crème brûlée. Very enjoyable...

Finish: Fruity, nutty with Oloroso notes and oak spice, raisins, black cherries. Lingering for a while with sherried spice notes.

With water: The nose becomes fresher and fruitier, with more fresh fruit sweetness. It is still sherried but not as dark and boozy rich as it is without water. I also get a little more bitterness on the palate, which also ventures into the finish. Still delicious though (even if I think I prefer it without H2O!)

Overall, a great first step into the realm of Australian whisky. It is a rich, dark and boozy experience, it tastes of well-made single malt aged in quality casks. It is definitely a winner in my books! Shame about the smaller bottle size and the 300 bottles limit (of which I own 1%!) but it now makes me want to explore further!


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