Just In 👉 Sipsmith Just Released Its Rarest Gin Dear Low Dy...

News & New Releases

Melbourne's Starward is Biggest Winner of San Francisco World Spirits Competition


We've said this before, we'll say it again. Australian whisky is having a moment at the centre stage of whiskyland. This moment has far from ended.   

One of the many innovative distillers coming from Down Under is David Vitale's Starward Distillery, which pushes the boundaries of what modern whisky can be, and is first to use red wine barrels to fully mature their whiskies.

It may surprise you to know that Starward is the result of a beer geek (David Vitale) who turned to distilling whisky instead. It uses many craft beer-inspired tricks and practices, such as brewer's barley and brewery's yeast. These are responsible for much of the brightness and fruitiness present in Starward’s whisky.



The Starward Nova Single Malt is also special for being the first – and one of the few – Australian whiskies to be entirely matured in Australian red wine casks.



Learn all about Melbourne's rising star distillery here.


Most Awarded Distillery of the Year 2022


(Image Source: Katelyn Tucker, Robb Report)


Just 2 days ago, Starward Distillery had been named Most Awarded Distillery of the Year at one of the most prestigious international spirits competitions: The 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.



This title is given to the one distillery (whether it is a whisky, gin or bourbon distillery) that has taken home the largest number of Gold medals at the competition this year. 

This means that Starward isn't just ranked as the best out of the whisky category, but has also beaten thousands of spirits distillers from around the world across the categories of whisky, brandy, gin, tequila, rum and other spirits.  

To be precise, Starward had won 12 Double Gold medals and 3 Gold medals for various expressions entered into the competition. A Double Gold is a more prestigious award given to bottles that have unanimously received a "Gold" rating from all members of the competition's judging penal.


Starward's Double Gold winners include:

(1) the Nova Single Malt

(2) the Fortis Single Malt (check out our review here)

(3) the Tawny Single Malt

(4) the Ginger Beer Cask #6 Single Malt

(5) the Unexpeated Single Malt

(6) the Octave Barrels Single Malt

(7) the Hungarian Oak Single Malt


Starward has also taken home the Gold award for its Two-Fold Double Grain expression and the Dolce Single Malt. 


Our Take 

It's remarkable that Starward is the first Australian distillery to take this prestigious spot in the competition's 22-year history. Not only is this a signal that Australian whisky's continued emergence in the world stage is here to stay, it is also a huge validation of the unpretentious, beginner-friendly approach taken by David Vitale, and his focus on Australia's most famous resource: red wine barrels.

In a press statement, Vitale said: 

“Fifteen years ago we had an idea to bring an approachable and delicious Melbourne whisky to life and to receive this recognition confirms what we’ve always known, that Australia is home to some of the finest whisky and spirits in the world."

That Starward continues to receive international accolades is unsurprising to us. We have purchased and tasted our fair share of Starward's whiskies and we do find them generally very affordable, flavourful and approachable. But what we like best is its distinctive red wine sweetness that is quite unlike whiskies of any other style – this distinctive profile is quite likely what make Starward stand out from the crowd. 

Here's to exciting times ahead for both Starward and the Australian spirits industry!