Recently, I had the honor of participating in an online launch event for a single malt whisky. However, this was not simply a presentation of a spirit, but the event also offered the opportunity to exchange ideas with David “Dave” Vitale, the founder of the Australian Starward Distillery, about his new product, the Starward Left-Field Single Malt Whisky, and to listen to his thoughts on the product. However, that was not everything. (provided test products)*
Because in addition to Dave’s insights, Darmstadt resident Chris Pepper aka the “whisky chef” also participated, who had created some small accompaniments especially for the Left-Field whisky and sent them chilled the day before. Of course in pandemic times also I am pleased about the possibility to be able to attend such nice events and thus to be able to experience a small ray of hope in the very restricted everyday life. Nevertheless, I wanted to and have of course also made my own picture of the Starward Lieft Field. And even though the accompanying dishes, Dave’s tasting details and also the really very cool drink ideas of Christoph Henkel (the “bar manager” at Kirsch-Whisky, the German distributor of the Starward Left-Field), who created an exciting Old Fashioned twist and a Crusta cocktail with it, left positive impressions on me, I just want to make my personal approach to the subject of the article here.
Starward Left-Field is a single malt with no age statement. What makes it special, however, is its maturation, which took place exclusively in former red wine casks made of French oak. Therefore, it is not a red wine finish, but a fully red wine cask aged whiskey. Fortunately, it is not chill-filtered or colored, so it owes its beautiful color exclusively to the red wine casks. Incidentally, these come from the leading Australian wine regions Barossa Valley and Yarra Valley. Finally, it is bottled at an abv of 40% – for me, this is the only circumstance that I find somewhat regrettable, as I would simply have liked to see a bit more potential aroma strength here. I have also asked Dave about this, whereupon he explained that they have experimented also with different alcohol strengths and in the end still found out that 40% vol. is the best result. Of course, I also suspect one or the other thought about the broad and entry-level market being responsible for that decision, but well, so be it. One thing I can say in advance: I actually liked the Starward Left-Field a lot.
Aroma: very intense, almost perfume-like notes of red berries and pink pepper, plus sweet notes of toasted, caramelized cereal, of honey and apples (but also some pear). Then, in the background, some banana also appears, as well as a fine dark chocolate.
Taste: The berries are also fully present on the palate. They mix with wine notes, cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa. Oak tones from the barrel are also there and again some banana. With time, more subtle hints of vanilla, honey, almost a crème brûlée also show up. Then the apples reappear as well as mint and an idea of cardamom.
Finish: medium long and surprisingly dry with oak notes and associations of wine tannins.
I’d also like to try my hand at something like an Old Fashioned today, as this cocktail category not only appeals to me personally, but it’s generally great for using single malts. And since it’s the beautiful berry notes that I like so much in the Starward Left-Field, I wanted to enhance them a bit. To do this, I used a liqueur from the house of Lantenhammer*, also recently featured here on the blog, which is made from wild blueberries from the forests and mountains of the Carpathian region of southeastern Europe belongside blueberry juice. In addition, I still accented a bit with the very nice Sangue Morlacco from the house of Luxardo. And because liquorice just goes wonderfully with berries, two Dashes of Bob’s Liquorice Bitters round out the picture. By the way, the drink is called Starberry Root, which is simply a combination of the name of the base whiskey, its flavor program and the liquorice root from which liquorice is made. Cheers!
Recipe “Starberry Root”:
6 cl Starward Left-Field Single Malt Whisky
1.5 cl Lantenhammer Blueberry Liqueur
0.5 cl Luxardo Sangue Morlacco
2 dashes Bob’s Liquorice Bitters
Preparation: The drink is built in the glass. Stir all ingredients on solid ice, spray with the oil of a lemon zest and serve.
Garnish: Lemon zest
Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online
*The fact that these products have been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.