SOUTH Africa’s Three Ships Whisky once again proved why it stands tall among the best whisky producers in the world– when it was singled out among strong competition to take the Best Whisky title at this year’s Old Mutual Spirits Trophy Show, for its 9-Year-Old Fino Cask Finish. This limited release, the fourth in Three Ships Whisky Master Distiller Andy Watts’ celebrated Master’s Collection – of which only 2 940 bottles were produced – also took the trophy for the show’s Best Blended Whisky.
Watts also created the Bain’s Founder’s Collection 18 Year Old Oloroso Cask Finish Special Release Single Grain Whisky, which won the trophy for the Best Grain Whisky. Both are produced at the James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington, Cape Town – the continent’s only commercial whisky distillery – where Watts has produced the globally awarded South African Three Ships Whisky and Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky ranges for the past 35 years.
‘’This award is especially important to us,’’ says Watts. ‘’Over the years it’s been our mission to change the way local whisky is perceived, and we believe this is starting to happen now. The 9-Year-Old Fino Cask Finish is a fine example of how South African whisky ingenuity is revolutionizing the whisky category – and it’s a singular honour to have this whisky acknowledged as the best whisky in the country by our own countrymen.’’
‘’The fact that South Africa secured the lion’s share of the gold medals and trophies across most major classes this year, is a grand acknowledgement that our own country’s contribution to the evolution of whisky is something to be wholly proud of. I’d like to tip my hat to my team at the distillery, for their tenacity and dedication to excellence,’’ he adds.
Now in its second year, the Old Mutual Spirits Trophy Show is the first of its kind in the country, and is open to all South African producers and importers. The awards platform seeks to identify the top spirits and liqueurs available in the South African market and make this information available to the country’s consumers, in an effort to recognize excellence as well as assist in growing the local spirits market.
Watts explains why this year’s Best Whisky is so special. ‘’ The limited edition Fino offers collectors a beautiful blend of the finest grain and malt whiskies with lovely expressions of Fino Sherry coming through. Coupled with this, in the palate, the whisky opens up with peat, treacle syrup, tobacco, spice and a playful nuttiness. “On the nose you will also get prominent smoke and peat, interlaced with figs, pineapple, orange peel, pepper and spice.”
“To achieve the exceptional cask finish that is the mark of the Three Ships Whisky Master’s Collection, we first matured the whisky for five years in older American oak, and then released it into seasoned Fino Sherry casks for a further maturation period of four years. This was coupled by visits at regular intervals. During the crafting stage, I witnessed the unravelling of extraction from the wood over four years and carefully selected four casks which I deemed to offer the optimal flavour composition.” he says. The whisky is un-chill filtered and natural in colour, presented in its natural form at a strength of 48, 6% ABV.
This annual limited edition collection reflects the pursuit of the exceptional that this whisky brand has become synonymous with. It exemplifies the Three Ships Whisky portfolio’s ‘Made Exceptional, Made Here’ range of premium blended and single malt South African whiskies, and has become a must-have for collectors who keenly anticipate getting involved in a completely new way of online purchasing.
The fifth limited edition Master’s Collection release – an 11-Year-Old Single Malt Shiraz Cask Finish – was released on 20 October this year at the exclusive online sale where just 400 bottles were made available for purchase – with most selling out within the first 10 minutes. This is a superb collector’s whisky to add to the festive season gift basket.