Earlier this year I interviewed Andy Watts of the James Sedgwick Distillery, makers of the Three Ships Single Malt. In that interview he said: “The return of the Three Ships 10 year Old Single Malt within the next few months is also an exciting project. The 10 year old malts will be released by vintage which again is another first for our South African whisky industry.”
Well, that 10 year old whisky is now here – a sample arrived from South Africa recently, much to my delight. The Three Ships brand, as Andy mentioned in the interview, ranges from light floral blends to peated single malts. So it’s reasonably uncommon to come across an African whisky, let alone a peated African whisky. For more about the Wellington-based James Sedgewick Distillery and South African whisky, I wrote a more detailed introduction in this review of the Three Ships Aged 10 Years PX Finish (a very good whisky).
Three Ships 10 Years Old was distilled in July 2005 (two years after the distillery launched its first single malt), matured in American oak and is bottled at 44.6% ABV without colouring or chill-filtration. Bottles are available for around £50, depending on where you shop.
Three Ships 10 Years Old
Colour: pale gold.
On the nose: feels like a clear American oak influence, with lashings of vanilla, honey, citrus and quite a fresh barley core. Then there are more fruit subtleties over time: pears, mangos, pineapple. Over time there’s a rich sponge and custard note, which is rather nice.
In the mouth: grapefruit juice. Quite dry in the mouth. Peppers and cloves, which is perhaps just a fraction too woody in places. Very warming, with pleasant light, ashy peat tones. The vanilla and toffee notes come to the fore again. A last hurrah of intense honey. A very nice light, slightly silky texture for this, and a long, spicy finish.
Rather pugnacious for a 10 year old, nice and oily, full of flavour, and very well priced at £50. I like it. A good whisky that’s not a million miles away from the occasional Caol Ila, though veering towards the light, ashier end of the scale. Very much in the Scotch style. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the PX finish, which was an excellent whisky, but I think this is definitely worth picking up to try – and sneak it into a blind tasting.