Tag Archive: South Africa

That Boutique-y Whisky Company: Three Ships: Batch 1 (South African Single Malt Whisky: 6 Years: 53.7% ABV)

Visual: Deep, rich gold. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Thick. Stewed dark fruit. Waxy leaves. Partially melted brown sugar. Slightly oily and slight smoke. Waxy in general. Banana skins. Water brings out cake sponge. Toffee and light peppercorn.

Body: Thick and oily. Kind of oily peat. Stewed apricot. Golden syrup. Shortbread. Brown bread. Charcoal touch. Water adds fudge. Charred oak. More waxy,

Finish: Stewed apricot. Milky chocolate. Slight banana. Charcoal and charred oak. American bread. Water adds noticeable alcohol. Slight apples. Treacle. Golden syrup. More milky chocolate.

Conclusion: Wow, this is thick and chewy, but despite that and a high abv this comes across far smoother than the low number of years ageing would indicate. As mentioned in the background, I’m guessing this is at least partly due to ageing in high temperatures. This has such a smooth mouthfeel, especially considering the over 50% abv, but you can really get your teeth into it.

Flavour-wise it is very different to most whiskies I have encountered out there. It feels like it hints at a waxier take on a sweet and big Highland whisky at the base, but far chewier, and even has what tastes like a decent amount of oily smoke underneath it (I have no idea if this is peated at all, but something definitely gives an oily peat like character in there – the whole thing is a bit outside my standard set of reference points, so I’m working without a net here).

It is a very gripping, kind of waxed leaves feel and even hints of flavour, and that grip means that all the other flavours stick around as well. The highland like impressions come across as a heavy, weighty sweetness – burnt brown sugar, fudge and what tastes like a relatively restrained sweetness version of golden syrup. These become especially evident with water – the alcohol is never burning, and never really obscures, but it does open up brilliantly with just a few drops, and can cope with a lot more.

Its unique character is that waxy greenery, an element I don’t recognise from any other whisky and adds a real savoury weight to this, mixing well with the oily, charred notes to make for a dark, savoury undertone.

A lovely mix – Highland meets a dash of Islay, meets elements I have only previously encountered in Indian whisky and makes for something really rewarding, multifaceted, recognisable as whisky but different. Well worth trying.

Background: This caught my eye a while back at The Hideout. I’d not tried any whisky from South Africa before, and I wondered what it would be like. So after an amazing Paul John whisky tasting held there I grabbed myself a measure. Was very impressed so went back later to do notes on it. This has been aged in American Oak and PX sherry casks (or so a quick google tells me). Six years is not old for a whisky, but I’m guessing that similar to ageing whisky in India (as the Paul Johns guide told us) the higher heat means a much higher loss to the angel share, and a much more rapid ageing. Three Ships is one of the brands of whisky from the James Sedgwick Distillery that also does the Bain’s single grain whisky. Again, so google tells me.


Collective Sao Gabriel Touro Tripel
Collective Sao Gabriel: Touro Tripel Blonde (South Africa: Abbey Style Tripel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Apricot, good sized white bubbled head.

Nose: Peach syrup. Black liquorice. Cane sugar. Cheesecake. Dried apricot. Stewed fruit. Slightly musty.

Body: Cream. Some bitterness. Banana. Liquorice. Cloves. Apricot. Slightly yeastie.

Finish: Cake sponge. Liquorice. Cane sugar. Lemon curd. Quite clean.

Conclusion: A creamy, fruity Tripel with liquorice notes. You had me up until that last one, now you are going to have to work really hard to sell me on it.

The base tripel is really clean and slightly dry with very little residual cane sugar. There is some sweetness but in general if feels more attenuated that a lot of the sugar sweet tripels going around. The sweetness instead mainly comes from the fruity character that would not actually be out of place on the less bitter end of the American IPA spectrum, there is even a similar creaminess of character.

Then, there is the liquorice, which seems to be a side affect of the dryness I think. It does have a use – tamping down the residual sugars that still exist to stop them building up too much. It goes a bit far though and can become a cloying and long lasting presence, far after the other flavours, and that really isn’t my preference.

It is a sign of the quality of the rest of the beer that I still enjoyed it despite that -while mostly a clean feel there is a bit of yeastiness there – small, but present and it gives it an interesting character. Based on this I would say there is a lot of room in the market for less sweet tripels, it is just this one needs a few more tweaks to work.

So a very fruity and dry tripel. It is at the almost working level, but not quite. However, if you have more of a tolerance for liquorice than I, this might be right up your street.

Background: Ok, where to list this as being from? Had to do a bit of googling for this one – the beers are listed as being brewed in Belgium according to the bottle, but Collective Sao Gabriel appear to be contract brewers a la Mikkeller, but based in South Africa. I’ve followed the Mikkeller route and listed where I think they are based. So South Africa it is. I didn’t just do that so I get an unusual entry on the beer map – honest. Anyway, I mainly grabbed this as it has awesome art on it which caught my eye. yep, sometimes I am that shallow. Ratebeer is listed in this as a Belgian strong ale, but I’ve decided to do my usual and list it based on what the brewer calls it as long as it is the right ballpark. Drunk while listening to New Model Army’s live album. Note: despite what I say above I actually quite like liquorice by itself, it just often doesn’t work in beer. Grabbed from Independent Spirit.

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