Starward Whisky to expand production

17 December, 2015 by Stefanie Collins

The Melbourne-based New World Whisky Distillery, home of Starward Whisky, has successfully attracted a range of investors in order to expand production at its whisky distillery and take the brand to the international market.

A funding round of more than $10 million Australian dollars has now been completed with new capital coming from a range of local and international investors including new minority stakeholder, and Diageo’s accelerator for new spirits brands, Distill Ventures.

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Starward founder, David Vitale, says that the brand was born from the desire to create a modern Australia whisky and then share it with the world.

“This tops off an incredible year for us, with the successful launch of our Wine Cask edition, and now an investment from a partner who fully supports our vision of making a modern Australian whisky and taking that across Australia and to new markets overseas,” he says. “The team are thrilled that we can keep doing what we do best – innovating in whisky production, and introducing more and more people to what we do.”

According to Frank Lampen, co-founder of Distill Ventures, Starward is exactly the type of entrepreneur-led brand the company loves working with.

“The team’s commitment to innovation stands out, even in the fast-evolving new world whisky category,” he says. “They have developed a truly distinctive whisky with exceptional quality from their wood policy and Melbourne’s constantly changing climate. Their vision for the future is really exciting and this investment will enable increased production of their signature single malts and continued development of their innovation pipeline.”

Having evaluated hundreds of new spirits companies over the past year, Starward was selected for investment due to its outstanding team committed to creating a distinctive modern Australian whisky.

David Gates, Diageo’s global head of premium core spirits, believes that whisky remains such a vibrant category because of constant innovation.

“There are few people in whisky who embody the spirit of innovation as much as David Vitale,” he says. “Australian whisky has rightly been gaining increasing global recognition recently and Starward has developed a uniquely positioned whisky to capture this opportunity.”

Since its launch in 2013 Distill Ventures has invested across multiple categories in Europe and Asia. This is its second recent whisky investment behind Stauning Whisky in Denmark. Vitale points out that the structure of the investment means that the Melbourne distillery will remain independent, increasing production and expanding internationally as Distill Ventures supports them in “realising their vision for growing their businesses, through mentoring and access to expertise”.

“The team are thrilled to keep doing what we do best – innovating in whisky production and introducing more people to our product,” says Vitale.

The deal fits with Diageo’s broader strategy to build a portfolio of whisky brands outside of the traditional whisky heartlands.

“This investment in Starward builds on our recent deal with Stauning Danish whisky to extend our presence in the exciting new world whisky opportunity,” says Gates.