South Africa

Bain’s 15 Years Old Founders Collection (52.5%, OB, 3600 Bottles 2019)

Bain’s 15 Years Old Founders Collection

Whisky Review

  • ABV: 52.5%
  • Age: 15 Years Old
  • Bottling: OB, Founders Collection, Global Travel Retail
  • Category: South African single grain whisky
  • Cost: $50
  • Origin: James Sedgwick Distillery
  • Vintage: undeclared

Bains-15-YO-Grain-Whisky

What they say

This first in the Founder’s Collection series pays tribute to Andrew Geddes Bain who built the Bain’s Kloof Pass, one of his most spectacular mountain passes constructed across South Africa.  Completed in 1853, the pass winds through the Limietberg Nature Reserve with sharp hairpin bends and to this day remains one of the most picturesque routes in the Cape.

The tribute to Bain will continue over the next few years when the Founder’s Collection will see a number of limited release single grain whiskies launched, featuring the magnificent passes he built.

The 15-Year-Old single grain whisky started its life off as Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky and spent an additional 10 years maturing in older American oak to reveal new depths and layers of flavour and smoothness.

“It took me 10 years to perfect Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky and it was during this time that I realised that it has the potential to age much further than originally anticipated due to the flavour profile being upfront and complex. But in the world of whisky nothing is immediate or guaranteed and so I went about on an exploration, hoping that my experiment would not disappoint my vision.”

“And my curiosity certainly paid off! I re-vatted the Bain’s into 3rd and 4th fill American Oak and for 10 years regularly tasted the whisky to track its progress. At 15 years, the whisky was at its most optimum. Bottled at a strength of 52.5% Alcohol by Volume, the whisky’s complexity and flavour driven profile shines through.”

Andy Watts – Head Distiller The James Sedgwick Distillery

Official tasting notes:

  • Colour: Dark Amber
  • Nose: Soft floral notes intertwining with spice, tropical fruits, banana and teak aromas open-up on the nose.
  • Palate: Sweet butterscotch, raisins and banana loaf flavours coats the mouth with a complex, smooth and delicately lingering taste.
  • Finish: The finish is warm and spicy with an incredibly smooth and silky mouthfeel.

What I say

A Limited edition 15 Year Old expression of Andy’s famous Bain’s Cape Mountain single grain whisky. I had the pleasure a few years back to sit with Andy and go through the components and story of how he constructed the standard single grain whisky expression with double maturation in ex-bourbon barrels featuring as a component. A little further experimental maturation in this expression (10 years to be exact) semes to have resulted in something rather special and worthy of selection as a limited edition bottling.

Thanks to both Andy Watts and also Tom Thomson of Toms Whisky Reviews (link opens Toms review of Bains 15yo) for this sample.

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Dark golden brown (14/20), slow-forming fine teas and ultra-fine legs.
  • Nose: Rich and sweet, vanilla pods, maple syrup, dried fig jam, honey, woody and slightly polished or newly painted, nutty almond, muskovado sugar, mashed ripe banana and green kiwi fruits.
  • Taste: Light-medium bodied, creamy highland toffee, butterscotch, toffee-coated popcorn (butterkist), some gentle baking spices, banana milkshake and cinnamon buns
  • Finish: Long, sweet and spicy, cinnamon, ginger, woody oak and vanilla.

Overall

A touch spicy, unsurprising due to the hot climate and cask activity in South Africa, and light-bodied and slightly spirity in character driven by the core grain spirit, though these are small prices to pay in what tastes and feels a lot older than its 15 years. Huge cask maturation influence in here would convince you this is twice its age!

Score 87/100

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