Yeah Starward is amazing for the money. I have taken a few bottles of the Wine Cask overseas for business gifts and they are always very well received, and I get requests for more! The Solera bottling is quite hard to find and reaches into the $200's but if you like the wine cask & standard Sherry bottlings then it's worth finding. I have seen it in multiple whisky bars both locally and in NZ.
I have Black Gate myself, and I think another member has too (maybe run a search). I got a bottle of their BG004 via The Oak Barrel which is quite sweet with some spice, and have tasted the BG021/022 which is deep and rich but not as spicy as the 004. The port casks have a quite different interaction with the spirit and while you can detect distillery character it is quite a different dram. I'd love to get my hands on a 'juiced' port cask maturation of 5-6 years, it would almost be a 'dessert dram'.
Next purchase with be their 620s (ie 6x 20L casks blended) release, and possibly the BG011 for a cask strength. Black Gate is an underrated producer, as is Iniquity. Both are very worthy of your cash.
I will also throw out Baker Williams, which is from my home town. I only know the people in passing, but they are doing 500ml for $130ish. The initial release was a 3-year maturation and they have a few casks still going which I was told they would try to get to 5 years. The temperature delta through the year is very high and everything matures faster out there, Mudgee has had as low as -8 this winter, and a 43 degree day last summer. The spirit expands in and out of the wood far more with this, so 5 years is closer to 12-15 years in Tasmania or Scotland.
Black Gate is currently my favourite Australian whisky producer, I have a bottle of BG020 the Sherry/Rum cask and BG055 the sherry cask peated whisky. If you like Laphroaig whiskies you will like BG055, with regards to BG020 it is smooth and has a rich caramel/rum flavour. I plan to purchase the hybrid cask next. I was lucky enough to visit the distillery in April this year, I highly recommend it, Brian and Genise are great hosts.
I visited Nant distillery in July this year and tasted their range, the Port Cask whisky was my favourite of which I purchased a bottle - very Christmas cakey. On the same trip, I also dropped into the Lark Bar the Classic Cask is what can you say a classic, all about oranges/citrus.
I also have a bottle of the Starward Wine Cask and enjoy it although the finish is quite short. Hellyers Road Pinot finish is also a tasty good value Australia whisky.
Would recommend looking at the Dram full or Australian whisky appreciation society Facebook pages.
In no particular order:
Bellwether is delicious stuff. Smaller but affordable port, peated offerings for the most part. Steve Ryan is a true gentleman, passionate about his craft and very small batch.
Heartwood is definitely North of $200 but for sheer oomph, depth and intensity of cask strength offerings are consistently highly rated and sought after.
Starward. Affordable. Quaffable. Sometimes I go wow but they sell out quickly. The vanilla stuff is vanilla. I’ve tasted most of their offerings either through local meets, friends in hospitality or shows.
Inquity depends on batch but isn’t bad.
Fleurieu product good juice. Again slightly north of 200...
Carwyn Cellars had a few independent Australian releases also last I checked.
Limeburners Solera (infinity) cask from Dan Murphy’s is drinkable. Young and somewhat lacking in complexity but below 200. That muscat cask directors cut though. ... and the peated port. They were a cut above.
That’ll do. Given that the price of some Australian bottling date North of my Timeless titanium handle and head... YMMV
Nathan who runs many whisky and scotch events (including the annual Dram Full charity dinner) organises Whisky Freedom. It is different to Whisky Live which showcases more readily available products. Whisky Freedom is all about freedom of expression and to that end, there are independent bottlers, all sorts of once-off and stuff you may or may not have tried before. Ticket price includes all tastings and light meal within RSA requirements.
I have no affiliation with Whisky Freedom in any way other than being a friend of the organiser.
Thought I'd post this here for the WA people interested.