Three Ships

Three Ships 10 Years Old Single Malt Whisky ~ 43% (The James Sedgwick Distillery)

Three Ships 10 Years Old Single Malt Whisky (Official Bottling)

43% ABV, £40 for 70cl

Score: 86/100

What they say:

Back in 2003, the first South African single malt whisky was released in the form of Three Ships 10 Year Old. This limited-release earned a gold medal at the 2007 International Wine and Spirits Competition and showed the world that South Africa and Three Ships were serious about their whisky. We launched another edition of this collector’s item in 2010 and will be releasing another two limited edition 10 Year Old Single Malt Whiskies over the next two years. The three tin collection will be the ideal keepsake for whisky lovers.

TASTING NOTES:

This limited edition South African single malt whisky has been produced and matured at The James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington.

Colour: Warm copper.

Nose: Hint of peat, but not smoky. Estery notes with a slight sweet fragrance alluding to dried fruit and fudge.

Palate: Full bodied and round whisky with a long warm finish.

What I say:

For 2013 I was attempting to tour all of Scotland’s distilleries in vitro (as we scientists like to call it – meaning ‘in glass’) with the aim of trying whisky from each of the more than 100operational distilleries plus a few drams from recently silent distilleries too when/where available. Sadly a few have still evaded us and a small number have been sampled but are still awaiting me getting my finger out and publishing their review.

For 2014 my target was to perform an in vitro ‘World Tour of Whisky’. To kick-start this campaign I plumped for a virtual 6334 mile hop to the James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington in the Western Cape, South Africa as I sampled the Three Ships 10 Year Old single malt whisky.

Colour:

Gold

Nose:

Slightly peaty, sweet heather honey, floral, golden syrup, cereal oats, lemon sponge cake

Taste:

Salty and waxy with a little smokey peat, cinnamon and nutmeg spices which build in intensity, golden syrup and malted barley a little like a flapjack (oats again?)

Finish:

Smooth, sweet and mellow

Would I buy it again:

Absolutely, I was very impressed with my first tasting of South African whisky and not least due to the added surprise of peat. We were left wondering if this was from Scottish peated barley or if peat was available in South Africa. I have since found out that the master distiller at James Sedgwick Distillery; Andy Watts spent some time working with Morrison Bowmore Distillers including time at their Bowmore Distillery on Islay where he gained an appreciation of Islay malts. I suspect that the peated element in this 10 Year Old expression has its roots back in peat-dried malted barley from Islay (either Bowmore’s own maltings or the Port Ellen maltings perhaps?). Regardless of its origin the peated element is incorporated beautifully into this expressions that somehow consists of a combination of Speyside and Maritime-like malt than a true Islay or (Scottish) Highland style.

At 10 Years Old this is reasonably complex and drinkable with that distinct peaty element it reminds me both of Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich expressions – so it rates amongst distinguished company. I would be keen to explore how the Three Ships distillate ages. There was plenty of room in this dram for a little more wood and body to introduce a little more complexity, lets hope a 12, 15 or even an 18 year old sails across our horizon sometime soon.

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