The James Sedgwick Distillery
Officially founded in 1886 the James Sedgwick Distillery ( which is the only commercial whisky distillery on the continent of Africa ) has only been producing whisky since 1990 and is well known for the Three Ships brands that are also produced at this versatile distillery.
This Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is inspired by the Cape Mountains where the name for this whisky is derived from and by a man named Andrew Geddes Bain who built the Bainskloof Pass that connects the town of Wellington to the interior of the country..
With a large amount of expansion the distillery is now equipped with one stillhouse with two columns for its grain whisky production and two pot stills for producing malt whisky, a further still with six columns is used for the production of neutral spirit. Combine this with the two mash tuns, sixteen washbacks, seven warehouses that have a combined capacity to hold +/- 150,000 casks the distillery is growing into a real force in today’s markets.
Bains Single Grain Whisky
Distillery.. James Sedgwick Distillery
Region.. Western Cape, South Africa
Age.. NAS – approx 5 – 6 years old
Cask.. Two sets of First Fill Bourbon barrels
Abv.. 43% local production and 40% EU Export
Style.. Single Grain ( 100% South African yellow maize )
This single grain has a double maturation, firstly the grain ( Corn ) spirit is matured in First fill American ex Bourbon casks for 3 years before what is now whisky receives a second maturation period of 18 to 30 months in a second set of First fill American oak.. We then have to remember that due to the climate in South Africa this whisky will mature at a faster rate than a Scottish equivalent due to the accelerated interaction between the atmosphere, spirit / whisky and the oak.. Along with this, the angels share is also relatively higher at around 4.5 – 5% per year..
Nose.. Candy shop aromas rise with emphasis on vanilla, butterscotch and rich chewy toffees, cornbread and sugar coated shortbread lead into subtle spices that come in the form of nutmeg and cinnamon which gives you a real invitation to dive into the palate..
Palate.. Vanilla and corn flavours lead into a soft fruitiness with natural syrup sweetness.. Poached pear candied orange and a real delicate peach note leads into subtle hints of ginger biscuits and custard creams..
Finish.. A touch of oak leads into soft spices..
Thoughts.. This is an extremely easy drinking single grain whisky that is quite reminiscent of Bourbon flavours and aromas but in a more delicate way..
After chatting with Andy Watts who is now the Head of Whisky for Distell and the person who brought whisky to the distillery back in 1990. Andy Watts was only the 6thManager of the Distillery since 1886 and the second longest serving with 25 years in the job. He was awarded at the World Whisky Awards 2018 the title of Global Icon for Master Distiller / Master Blender of the Year.. Andy mentioned about the initial concept behind the creation of this Bain’s single grain whisky was back in 1999 and it took another 10 years before the initial release was achieved in 2009..
The idea behind giving this grain whisky its double maturation in first fill ex bourbon casks is to impart as much flavour into the whisky in order to make this a grain whisky that is perfectly at home being drunk alone without the need of a mixer…but I would guess this could make a great base for a cocktail or long drink without upsetting too many people..
The make up for this grain whisky is 100% South African yellow maize or corn (sweetcorn) as is the more common name here in the UK.
It is so refreshing these days to see grain whisky that is intended to be drunk as a whisky on its own with plenty of flavour and a good maturation programme instead of it just been a cheap blend filler that has been matured in old used up casks in order to impart as little flavour as possible.. We all know just how good old grain whisky can be but this is a fantastic advertisement for younger grain whisky that can be a perfect substitute for the ever increasing price tag connected to malt whisky side..
There is also a 15 year old version which is at the moment is exclusively available at Travel Retail Duty Free in South Africa and at the distillery for people who take the full tour. Andy is on his way to the UK to hold talks with our local and European Global Travel retail to try to convince them of the quality of the whisky and to stock it in our own airports..
I will hopefully be able to bring you a review of that soon as I expect that might be rather good too !!