Starward partners with cruise liner to produce ‘well-travelled’ whisky

26 February, 2019 by Tam Allenby

Starward has released a new, extremely limited-edition whisky aged in an oak barrel fixed to the deck of a luxury cruise liner.

The single malt whisky called The Seafarer has experienced temperatures ranging from zero to 32 degrees centigrade as it travelled the world on its 95,000 nautical mile journey, moving with the motion of the ocean and soaking up the salt of the sea air on its journey.

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The Seafarer is the product of a special partnership between Starward and Cunard, designed to celebrate the Queen Elizabeth cruise liner’s inaugural homeporting season in Australia this year.

Initially aged for more than two years in the distillery, the whisky was housed in a 225-litre oak barrel which was secured on Queen Elizabeth’s open aft decks by the ship’s engineers. During its journey, the whisky spent 160 days at sea and a further 187 days visiting more than 90 ports around the globe, including St Petersburg, Helsinki, Lisbon, Venice, Hong Kong, Penang and Cape Town.

Visibly weathered by its journey, the barrel was offloaded in Melbourne on 10 February and taken to Starward’s nearby distillery, where it was compared with a control barrel of the same whisky which had remained in Melbourne.

According to Starward founder David Vitale, the result of the journey is a whisky like no other.

“The maturation environment is crucial to the final flavour of any whisky so this was an amazing opportunity to create something different,” he said. “There’s no doubt The Seafarer’s odyssey on Queen Elizabeth has resulted in a unique whisky, which clearly has a great story to tell through its flavours.

“Even if we put a barrel of the same whisky on another ship for a year, we could never emulate the same weather conditions, so this really is a one-of-a-kind drop.

“While The Seafarer still has Starward’s trademark fruit characters, the oak influences are stronger, our jammy characteristics have developed with time and the dessert cooking spices like vanillin are more identifiable.

“This is a whisky that’s been on an amazing journey so the result is appropriately epic. It’s a special drop so we’re recommending that it should be drunk neat or with a dash of water, so the subtleties of its flavour can be savoured.”

Apart from at Starward’s Port Melbourne distillery, The Seafarer is only available to guests aboard the 2081-guest Queen Elizabeth.