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Distill Ventures invests in Australian malt whisky

Diageo has confirmed the second major investment for Distill Ventures in less than a fortnight after striking a deal with Australian single malt whisky brand Starward.

Distill Ventures plans to expand the brand into new export markets

Following on from its £10 million investment in the Stauning Whisky distillery, Distill Ventures – Diageo’s investment and mentoring business – plans to increase production at Starward’s current facility in Melbourne and expand the brand into new export markets including South East Asia and the US.

Starward whisky is marketed as “combining the best Australia has to offer” in reference to the barley, climate, and Australian red wine barrels that are key to the production process.

David Vitale, founder of Starward, said: “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. 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.”

The brand was set up in 2009 and currently produces Starward New World Malt Whisky in ‘apera cask’ and ‘red wine cask’ editions in a former aircraft maintenance hangar in Melbourne.

The brand was selected for investment due to its “outstanding team” whose “commitment to innovation stands out”.

Frank Lampen, co-founder of Distill Ventures, explained: “The Starward team are exactly the types of entrepreneur we love working with. The team’s commitment to innovation stands out even in the fast-evolving new world whisky category.

“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.”

The deal is part of Diageo’s broader strategy of building on its portfolio of whisky brands as the category develops globally and new distilleries make their mark outside of the traditional whisky regions.

David Gates, Diageo’s global head of premium core spirits, added: “Whisky remains such a vibrant category because of constant innovation – and there are few people in whisky who embody the spirit of innovation as much as David Vitale.

“Australian whisky has rightly been gaining increasing global recognition recently and Starward has developed a uniquely positioned whisky to capture this opportunity.

“Starward has created a truly distinctive whisky with exceptional quality at younger ages from their innovative wood policy and getting positive impact on maturation from Melbourne’s constantly changing climate.”

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