Tasting 3 Ships Bourbon Finish – South African whisky

South Africa is currently hosting the 2010 world cup football competition, which frankly is rather boring for me. I am not a big football fan, and most games are not that thrilling. Except one or two matches which were brilliant, the rest are just OK at best, or quite boring otherwise.

But, South Africa is a great nation and has a lot to offer besides football. They have some great vineyards and wines, food, culture. and apparently : whisky. Who would have thought?

As it happens, South Africa is one world’s  biggest whisky markets and it’s not very surprising they also produce local whiskies which are supposed to be quite good. The 3 ships line is produced by the James Sedgwick Distillery located in the heart of the Cape wine lands.

The 3 ships core expressions consist of the 5 year old blended whisky (blend of SA, and Scotch whisky) which has a peaty nose, and the 3 Ships Bourbon cask, which is also a blended whisky but is 100% South African.

Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish is relatively a new addition to the core line. The special release Bourbon Cask Finish was launched in 2005 and is South Africa’s very first 100% blended whisky with both the malt and grain components being distilled and matured here in South Africa. After its initial maturation period the blend is put back for a further “Marriage” period in first fill American Bourbon Cask and ‘finished’ there.

Three ships bourbon finish, 43% ABV

Color: Gold.


Nose: Erm… Bourbon nose… sweet, vanilla , oak spice, wee floral. It’s pretty young and not unpleasant, but not very complex.

Palate: again the usual bourbon “deal”. Very thin body, watery i might add. at 43% this feels like  lot less ABV.  I was not impressed. could be a nice summer drink, possibly with some ice (yea, ice.)  Very drinkable, but not distinct. I am sad to day that this “Bourbon finish” , pretty much transformed it into Bourbon.

Finish: medium, oaky , floral, light finish.

Bottom line:

I was expecting much more from this whisky, But this one didn’t deliver. The ‘Bourbon Finish’ actually imparted so much bourbony qualities that it had become a Bourbon. A good thing, if you are into Bourbon, but this is supposed to be a SA whisky , and not a Bourbon…  As I wrote, this is very drinkable, and could be a nice party drink for summary days, with friends, just for fun. Nothing fancy, but solid.

I do hope the rest of the SA 3 ships line are more persuasive…

Thanks to MP for providing me this sample.


End note : In about 12 hours time Spain and the Netherlands are about to play for the world championship.

May the best team Win!

3 thoughts on “Tasting 3 Ships Bourbon Finish – South African whisky

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