James Sedgwick Distillery

Gosh, it certainly takes a lot of effort to run over 5,000 miles. The Proclaimers only walked over 1,000 (or at least they said they would), I wonder it took them about a fifth of the time it took me! Yes, it’s been a couple of weeks, but my Around the World in 80 Drams journey has resumed as I arrive in South Africa after rather long trip from Madrid, Spain. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the first single grain whisky from South Africa – Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky, which is produced at the James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington, situated at the foot of the Bainskloof Pass.

Not only an astoundingly beautiful location (Google Image search ‘Bainskloof Pass’ and you’ll know what I mean – looks absolutely gorgeous, it does), it’s also about 40 miles away from Cape Town. I had a friend who went there and said it was one of the coolest places he’d ever been, and you can trust my friend. He’s my friend, he’d never lie to you. Plus, Cape Town is the home of Mostert’s Mill, the oldest surviving, complete windmill in South Africa. Yes, I get to be a windmill nerd again!

Mostert's Mill

Maybe one of my favourite windmills I’ve seen in a while.

The James Sedgwick Distillery was founded back in 1886, named after Captain James Sedgwick. Currently, Andy Watts is the distillery manager. Interestingly, the distillery was upgraded recently (well, relatively recently, when we’re talking about a distillery that dates back to 1886) and is now home to a pair of copper pot stills built by Forsyth’s of Scotland, similar to the ones used by Bowmore!

James Sedgwick Distillery

The very pretty James Sedgwick Distillery

Bain’s Cape isn’t the only whisky produced at the James Sedgwick Distillery – you’ll also find the rather excellent Three Ships range produced under that very handsome roof. But today we’re looking at the first single grain whisky to be produced in South Africa! And that’s not the only thing they can boast about – it was also named the World’s Best Grain Whisky at the 2013 World Whiskies Awards! Lofty praise indeed.

It was launched in 2009 and made using a selection of South African grains, and after distillation the whisky it allowed to mature in first-fill bourbon casks for three years before being re-vatted and put back into more first-fill bourbon casks for a further two years. Let’s have a little taste, yes?

Bain's Cape Mountain Whisky

11. Wellington, South Africa – Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky

Nose: Grapefruit peels, custard creams and icing sugar. Soon followed by almost-bourbon-like-buttered corn notes and a floral hint of bluebells giving it a lightness throughout.

Palate: Soft and well-rounded with continued vanilla cream. Fresh pear and fizzy apple laces give it a fruity edge. Cardamom builds as does the warming, oaky warmth.

Finish: The sweet citrus peels return, along with a little bit of meadowsweet.

An excellent single grain whisky, that is. Very fresh and summer-y but not in a ‘bucket full of fresh fruit and hay’ kind of way. One of a small number of whiskies that I reckon would go really well when served at a summer party of sorts. And so, on to the next distillery. After such a long trek from Spain to South Africa, I think a shorter journey is on order – we’ll only be travelling about 25 miles! I’ll be travelling by ocelot, and it’ll only take 39 minutes – so I (hopefully) won’t miss two weeks this time…