Spicy ginger pencil shavings. Take note.
There’s something quite exciting about world whisky. It seems everyone is at it and, along with some really interesting packaging designed to appeal to a home crowd, the flavours of the whisky are equally tailored to palates that have grown up being exposed to different flavours. It would appear that South African whisky is no different in having a particular and noticeably different take on what whisky can takes like. This is from 3 Ships, a Distel (now Heineken) stablemate to Deanston and Bunnahabhain and the other’s I can never remember. This is their home boy (till they went Dutch). And like the other malts in the portfolio, it is remarkably different to its brethren and all the better for it. This is its own man. It’s not about fitting in. It’s about standing out (in a good way).
For lack of putting a ship in a bottle, it’s instead, time to put 3 up my nose. Drumroll please.
Mmmmmm. Nice. It smells like it’s come from somewhere hot. Like with Kavalan and Paul John , there something about the nose that says hot weather, it’s dense and concentrated and spicy with a little peat. There’s a lot of light fruit syrop though too. And ginger prickles and bourbon wood sourness that I get from Deanston (which I love). But it’s hotter and drier? It’s really quite sweet initially with hot dusty custard, too. Salty. Peat. Some old wine gums. Spicy apple crumble comes to mind, a little banana in there? It’s not overly complicated but it feels very active. Like it wants to climb out of the glass and get things going. I like it. Spritely. Feels younger in the nose that the 12 years would suggest.
In the mouth and the arrival is sweeeeeeet and quite light and thin with a light peat smoke but it attacks the tongue and as the sweetness envelopes the prickly ginger erupts with lovely lemon posset and a solid oatiness and digestive biscuits and it’s then underpinned with some lovely oaky, woodiness and pencil shavings. Not drying or austere but woody and solid and unmissable. It spicy wood, tasty and toasty. Some creaminess slides in and out but really this is all about sweetness and wood and a good malty base. The big take away is the wood spice.
And then it’s over. Eh? Wow. No idea how some reviews get a long finish of this. Pretty short. Just like that, the heat bundles onto the three ships and buggers off leaving a flag planted in your tongue saying ‘we woz ere’. There’s whisper of ginger and smoke and wood and a little caramel and the pencil shavings, but it passes so quickly. It’s weird. The finish is just clean and really makes you want another sip to got through the sweet ginger woody prickle as soon as possible.
It’s a pity. If only the finish was more, well, more. If it was it would be grand. It feels like there’s the last page of a story missing here. One where they get into their ships and sail off into the sunset for more adventures. Maybe one day they’ll write that missing page. It’s still early days.