If you haven't heard the latest news from the Three Ships stable yet, then we're fortunate to inform you that the second release in the annual Three Ships Master's Collection is being launched this week! This year's whisky is a 15yo blend, with both the malt and grain components having spent time maturing in Pinotage casks. If you are not a wine drinker (like us), then it's worth noting that Pinotage is a uniquely South African wine cultivar; which then makes perfect sense as to why Andy Watts, whisky-maker extraordinaire at the James Sedgwick Distillery (home of Three Ships and Bains), would choose to use casks that once held this type of wine to finish/mature his whisky in.
This release is comprised of only 4,000 bottles, with 3,500 available for sale (the remaining 500 have been allocated to marketing activities, should you be wondering). The first 500 bottles will be sold via the Three Ships Master's Collection website tomorrow, 4 October, and thereafter, the release is scheduled to be available this Saturday, which is designated as International Pinotage Day. (Yes, there is such a thing! ;p ).
The grain and malt components of the whisky were first matured separately in American oak, ex-bourbon casks before being finish for different periods (~5 years for the malt and ~2 years for the grain), in eight European oak casks previously used for Pinotage. The blend has a healthy malt ratio of ~35%, unchillfiltered, naturally coloured with a beautiful pink/red hue imparted from the Pinotage casks, and bottled at 46.2%. The retail price is R1,500ea.
We have been allocated 240 bottles (we unfortunately couldn't get more), which we are expecting to be available for purchase, both in our store and online, first thing Saturday morning, 8 October, should everything go according to plan! We'll post an update to this article, as well as our social media accounts, to update you on the progress. (Update: Our stock has arrived and is now available!)
We were fortunate enough to try this whisky at an official launch event last week, and we were honestly blown away. Andy has done an incredible job creating a rich, elegant and balanced blend using a wine finish/part-maturation, which is no easy task. The grain is detectable, but only as a canvas to allow the malt and Pinotage influence to shine through with gorgeous notes of cherries, plums and tropical fruits. There is no doubt this is one of the best whisky releases this year- and that's considering all international whisky releases, and not just locally. This is sure to sell out fast and will undoubtedly achieve cult whisky status in just a few weeks. Bravo Andy and team; once again you have outdone yourself, made SA whisky-drinkers very happy and South Africa proud!