Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The pioneering spirit

Recently we had the pleasure to meet Andy Watts from The James Sedgwick Distillery in South Africa. He is master distiller and only the sixth distillery manager at distillery since it was established in 1886.

Their story started in 1850 with a single pioneer. Captain James Sedgwick sailed to the Cape on the clipper Undine, and nine years later established J. Sedgwick & Co., purveyor of quality liquor, tobacco and cigars. In 1886, the distillery in Wellington was purchased situated on the banks of the unspoiled Berg River in Wellington for its original function to distill brandy.

In 2000 the merger between SFW and Distillers Corporation became official. The company now operates under the name, Distell Group Limited and in 2003 the distillery was renamed The James Sedgwick Distillery.

The James Sedgwick Distillery is situated at the foot of the Limietberg Mountains in Wellington. They produce both malt and grain whiskies on the same site. They have 70,000 casks of whisky in maturation any given time and the distillery handles the entire whisky making process - from raw material stage through blending.

Have a look at this nice commercial of Bain's or have a little look inside the process and distillery? Then have a look here or here for more on this... Andy brought us some samples to try, you can find some notes on them below.

Three Ship - Select
"It's a high-quality, smooth-tasting blend of fine grain and malt South African and Scotch whiskies that have been left to age in specially selected oak casks for a minimum of three years. With the exception of Three Ships 10 Year Old Single Malt, the fleet of whiskies produced at The James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington are blended whiskies made from a combination of finished malt and grain whiskies. Both the malt and the grain are distilled separately and then, only after a minimum period of three years in wood, do we combine the fruits of our labour to form a blended whisky. Our internationally acclaimed fleet of whiskies is a testament to a heritage of pioneering craftsmanship that has resulted in South Africa's first whisky brand, the first blend of South African and Scotch whiskies, SA's first single malt whisky and SA's first 100% South African blended whisky."
Three Ships - 10 year old
Thomas' notes - Ansgar's notes
"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."

Three Ships - 5 year old Premium Select
"Launched in 1991, Three Ships 5 Year Old Premium Select whisky is an artful blend of specifically selected South African and Scotch grain and malt whiskies that have been aged for a minimum of five years. This bold and unpretentious member of our fleet of whiskies has been awarded the World's Best Blended Whisky by the Whisky Magazine's 2012 World Whiskies Awards. This South African and Scotch blended whisky was previously named as the best whisky outside of Scotland aged 12 years and younger in the 2009 Whisky Magazine's Worldwide Whisky Awards! Three Ships 5 Year Old Premium Select was also a gold medal and class winner at the 2010 IWSC in London."

Three Ships - Bourbon Cask Finish
Thomas' notes - Ansgar's notes 
"This is a pioneer in its own right. Released in 2005, this premium whisky is a first of its kind, a 100% South African blended whisky and is enjoyed by pioneers looking for something unique. This blended whisky consists of malt and grain components that are distilled and matured here in South Africa. After its initial three year maturation period, the blended whisky is placed in first-fill American Bourbon Casks for a further six month marrying period. The casks are imported from America and give this premium whisky a slightly sweeter finish with hints of vanilla and spice"

Bain's Cape Mountain Whisky
"A pioneer in its own right, Bain's Cape Mountain Whisky is South Africa's first Single Grain whisky. Named after the pioneering pass builder, Andrew Geddes Bain, Bain's Cape Mountain Whisky is crafted at the foot of hisawe-inspiring Bainskloof Pass."

A huge thanks to Andy for letting us explore the South African range of expressions coming from this distillery. We hope to travel there someday and see the place and surroundings for ourselves. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog post. It is an stunning distillery and the Wellington area is beautiful. And Andy is an amazing guy. He is doing South Africa proud. Hope you get to visit our beautiful country soon. :)