Walking into Starward’s Port Melbourne Distillery, the first thing you’ll notice is that sweet smell of whisky as you walk through the door.
After that, you’ll notice the laidback atmosphere, high ceilings and open space, friendly faces and old school tunes.
With World Whisky Day coming up, where better to celebrate than amongst the bubbling copper stills and rows upon rows of award-winning whisky bottles.
We caught up with Starward’s Bar Manager Cameron Bray to chat about the distillery, World Whisky Day and his tips for finding and serving a great whisky.
You don’t have to be a snob to enjoy whisky at Starward.
“There’s a lot of preconceived ideas about how you should enjoy whisky and we really want to show people that you don’t have to be a tweed jacket-wearing, pipe-smoking snob to enjoy whisky. We want to celebrate whisky rather than prescribe certain ways to enjoy it.”
Balance is key but don’t get too caught up in technicalities.
“I think the key word for defining a good whisky is always balance. You want to be able to taste the unique distillery character of the spirit itself and the barrel flavours that are layered on top.”
“People often get caught up in the technical nature of things and forget to just decide whether they like something or not – if it’s yummy, that’s the most important thing!”
Steer clear of heavily peated whiskies if you’re a newbie.
“Firstly, you want to make sure you are purchasing a whisky that isn’t too expensive for your first taste.”
“If you’re not a big fan of mineral, smoky and iodine flavours, avoid those heavily peated whiskies from the west coast of Scotland. These are quite unique, which can be a bit confronting for a first-time whisky-drinker.”
“There are a whole lot of whiskies that are matured in sherry barrels that produce really nice fruity flavours which are a lot more accessible.”
Drinking vs. tasting whisky.
“Drinking whisky is about drinking for the enjoyment, whereas tasting whisky is a bit more mindful and analytical.”
“I like to drink whisky neat or in cocktails like the Brooklyn, the Manhattan… Anything with vermouth and whisky.”
Where better to spend World Whisky Day (Saturday 20 May) than in an active whisky distillery?
“You will be able to fill your own bottle of whisky, chat to the bartenders at our pop-up World Whisky Bar, which will be serving flights to celebrate some of our favourite whiskies from around the world and take a tour of the distillery.”
“There will also be cocktails and food trucks. It will basically be a big party.”
50 Bertie Street