Three Ships Andy Watts and Jeannette WentzelLast week we published part 1 on our visit to the James Sedgwick Distillery, makers of Three Ships and Bain’s Cape Mountain whisky.  You can read the blog post here.  The experience was amazing but  the most important part of this experience was yet to come – the tasting.  We were spoilt by Andy Watts the Master Distillery with a private tasting session of all 5 the whiskies in the James Sedgwick Distillery range in their beautiful tasting room.

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky:

First up was the award-winning Bain’s Cape Mountain whisky.  Named after the pioneering pass builder, Andrew Geddes Bain who constructed the awe-inspiring Bain’s Pass just outside of Wellington.  Launched in 2009, Bain’s is a double matured grain whisky. Bain’s have won numerous prizes.  These prized include the World’s Best Grain Whisky at the 2013 World Whiskies Award and more recently a 2014 Gold medal at the China Wine and Spirits competition.  It is a smooth whisky with hints of spice, softened by the sweet undertones of oak.  And interesting to note, it pairs well with spicy food and wasabi cashew nuts.

Three Ships Select

Next up was the Three Ships Select, the entry whisky for the brand.  Launched in 1977, it’s a high-quality, smooth-tasting blend of grain and malt whiskies that have been left to age in specially selected oak casks for a minimum of three years. This whisky has also won several prizes through the years.  Most recently Double Gold at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.  This well-balanced whisky has hints of oak with a clean finish.

Three Ships 5 yo Premium Select

The next whisky we tasted was the Three Ships 5 yo Premium Select.  Launched in 1991, this whisky is an artful blend of specifically selected grain and malt whiskies that have been aged for a minimum of five years.  Among other awards, this whisky was awarded the World’s Best Blended Whisky in 2012 at the World Whiskies Award and was awarded a Gold at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Three Ships 10 yo Limited Edition Single Malt

Back in 2003, JSD released the first South African single malt whisky in the form of Three Ships 10 Year Old. This limited-release earned a gold medal at the 2007 International Wine and Spirits Competition.  It showed the world that South Africa and Three Ships were serious about their whisky. Launched in 2010, the current Three Ships 10 yo Limited Edition Single Malt has various competition medals under its belt.  Jim Murray rated this whisky a 91 in his Whisky Bible.  The whisky has notes of peat, sweet fried fruit and fudge.  It is a full-bodied and round whisky and one of our favourite JSD expressions.

Three Ships Bourbon Cask finish

Last but not least was the Three Ship Bourbon Cask finish. Released in 2005, this premium whisky is a 100% South African blended whisky.  Distilled and maturedin SA, this blended whisky consists of malt and grain components. After its first three year maturation period, the whisky is placed in first-fill American Bourbon Casks for a further six month period. Most recently this whisky won Double Gold at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Gold at the China Wine and Spirits competition.  The softly honeyed whisky has notes of vanilla, pepper and spice with a slightly sweeter finish.

The future of Three Ships

James Sedgewick Three Ships whisky distillery barrelsThere are also a few really interesting casks in the warehouse that has been maturing for a bit longer.  And a few really interesting projects on the horizon for the James Sedgwick Distillery.

We will be waiting patiently (with a glass of Three Ships) for more whisky to be released.  I suspect that the wait will be worth it.  This proudly South African distillery is making a product that we can be proud of.  During the end of 2015, Three Ships released the Three Ships PX Cask.  It was the first whisky we tasted in 2016.