Starward is Australian malt whisky produced in Melbourne since 2007. Like their own Starward Solera expression, this single cask release for the 20th Anniversary of The Whisky Exchange was bottled from an Apera cask.
In 2010 the Australian fortified wine which had historically been called sherry underwent a name change to apera. After all Sherry (or the Spanish version Jerez) is a protected designation of origin, which after decades Australia decided to respect in an agreement with the EU. It comes in similar styles, from dry to very sweet, but contrary to sherry it is often seen as a cooking condiment or a cheap aperitif rather than a high-quality wine.
Although they mention second fill, it seems these Apera casks are re-coopered and re-toasted before being used in the Starward solera so they may be punched up a little compared to Scottish second fill casks.
Starward 7 yo 2012 (59%, OB for TWE 20th Anniversary, 2nd fill Apera cask, 220 btl.)
Nose: quite sweet and vanilla-driven, with plenty of custard, toffee, baked apple and cinnamon syrup. Rice pudding with lemon peel. Also baked pineapple, tinned apricots and hints of marshmallows. A kind of French oak fragrant touch as well (akin to potpourri).
Mouth: sweet and fairly rich, with a rummy feel at times. There’s thick banana, creamy pineapple and vanilla ice cream, before a big, warming oaky side comes to the fore (green pepper, leather and quite some caramel). Cinnamon pastry. Stewed apples. Milk chocolate.
Finish: long, with oak spice and sweet banana cake.
This Starward has a style of its own, with hints of Scotch but also the sweetness of American bourbon. It seems the apera cask mostly contributed sweetness. Check it out if you like rich, dessert-style whiskies. Only available from The Whisky Exchange.