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 and Bains single grain whisky that are both produced at this versatile distillery.
After a large amount of expansion the distillery is now equipped with one stillhouse that houses two column stills 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 market.
The Three Ships whisky releases are well known around the world although mostly by name rather than by taste, this isn’t because it is not great but rather its just that hard to find. Here in the Uk we have been rather impaired by the scarcity of releases with only a few making it to these shores. The first opportunity i had to try whisky hailing from the James Sedgwick Distillery under the Three Ships banner was released independently by That Boutiquey Whisky Company and only cemented the need to try more. I have been very lucky to try the grain whisky hailing from the distillery under the Bains banner with a very good well priced Nas expression that we know to be around the five and a half year mark but the 15 year old is something to be on the look out for..
12 year old Three Ships
Distillery.. James Sedgwick
Region.. Wellington, South Africa
Age.. 12 years
Casks.. Ex Bourbon casks
Uk and EU exclusive..
Nose.. The soft smoke wraps itself around digestive biscuits, plums, vanilla custard, fudge and a little ginger biscuit note. There is a distinctive softness that allows some soft fruits to showcase themselves although subtly, dried hay and a little freshly cut straw round this off very nicely.
Palate.. Spices lead the way all the time being given a big hug from the smoke.. Some fruit gets through with the sweetness coming by the way of natural fruit syrup and a dash of wild honey..
Finish.. Smoke and spice
Thoughts.. This South African single malt whisky is so interesting and makes the rarity of releases over here even harder to put up with.. As you sit with it the smoke seems to intensify but it never gets over powering but rather just manages to always allow some other notes to leave that intriguing element.
A very good and must buy whisky from the South African distillery..