Thanks to the Alexander Bar for pointing out to Uncorked that yesterday was World Whisky Day. To celebrate, a press release with the news that Three Ships Premium Select 5 year old, a blend of Scotch and local whiskies, was voted World’s Best Blended Whisky at the annual Whisky Magazine World Whisky Awards 2012. This was the UK-based Whisky Magazine and not the local version, brainchild of Ray Edwards, former liquor executive at Spar, which confusingly rejoices in the same name.
Tasting notes on site confusingly reveal that it does not blow the doors off the magazine’s in-house tasters Martine Nouet who score it 75/100 and Dave Broom, a tad more enthusiastic at 77/100. Martine’s notes:
Nose: Buttery but with a butyric edge. Herbal, aniseed. Shortbread. Dry hay.
Palate: Fresh, clean, sweet. Malty and minty.
Finish: Medium, some spices (paprika, ginger). A bit grippy. An earthy touch.
Comment: A decent dram, a little heavy on the palate though. You need to like oaky aftertaste to fully appreciate it.
Nose: Light smoke? Salami, pulpy fruits, crisp oak, gentle malt, some resin, toasted.
Palate: Oxidised and fruity. Old pears, slightly chewy. Wood smoke from the middle. Slightly green, seems young.
Finish: Fruity then spiced.
Comment: Has some varied character. Good.
But Tam o’Shanter’s off to master distiller Andy Watts in Wellington who noted “for the Three Ships Premium Select 5 year old to be named as the World’s Best Blended Whisky was by far the biggest achievement to date by any South African whisky. We have always believed that the whiskies produced here in South Africa were of a quality that placed them among the best, and the large number of awards we have garnered during the last few years have justified our confidence. And now it has been confirmed: South Africa doesn’t have to stand back when it comes to the production of exceptional whiskies. By consistently giving attention to our quality and taste profile, we can now celebrate the dedication and passion of the team at the distillery with a world title. This is both a humbling and incredibly rewarding achievement.”
But a bad day for the home of Scotch with the magazine lauding the Yamazaki 25 year old from Japan as the world’s best single malt with scores of 70/100 from Martine and just 60/100 from Dave. Looks like these two in-house gurus may shortly be looking for alternative employment, so out of touch are they with the decision of the “independent panel of judges that included some of the foremost whisky palates internationally.” Oops!
Congrats to Andy and his team! Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, seems more in tune with Whisky Mag’s international panel and scores the TS 5 Yr Old at 93/100.
Also well worth trying from the James Sedgwick distillery are (Whisky Bible scores in ) the Three Ships Bourbon Cask  (the first ever blend with 100% SA whiskies), Three Ships 10 Year Old Single Malt  (released in occassional batches and will hopefully become a regular feature in their range from 2014) and Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky [85.5] (a smooth grain whisky – also a first in SA).
All are great value for money as they seem to be priced to compete with local brandies rather than international whiskies.