Whisky IS NEVER ENOUGH
Iwrite this with the slight thud of whiteoak wooden casks at the back of my head. But this isn’t your typical bentover-the-toilet bowl, wretching and heaving kind of hangover; this soft thumping comes only from a little too much smooth, smoky, one-swig-at-a-time sippin’. This is whisky.
Bain’s, Three Ships and Scottish Leader whiskies recently held a Whisky Journey to discover their “distinctive sense of place, taste profile, splendour and intrigue”.
Held at the Rand Club in Johannesburg, the event brought together South Africa and Scotland at a venue that reminds one of times long gone. Its high-arch openings, sweeping staircases, rich patterns, damask carpeting and lively rooftop silhouettes whisper softly of men in top hats, carrying walking canes.
The event officially started almost an hour after it was meant to – thankfully the alcohol flowed abundantly and guests were spoilt for choice at the lively reception area that had me longing for a cigarette holder and dainty summer gloves.
Our Whisky Journey began with a haunting bagpipe melody that ushered us into the Bain’s room. Bain’s is a sweet-tasting whisky that’s eager to please. Easy-drinking, but still mature enough for one to savour, it carries notes of caramel and honey when sipped straight. A dash of water brings out a hint of banana and quietens its exuberance. The only whisky in the world made from South African maize is single malt, double matured and it took master distiller Andy Watts 10 years to perfect. I had mine paired with a lamb croquette.
Next up was Three Ships Whisky, which took us on a journey beyond the seas. Smoky and intense, Three Ships commands one to slow down and take note. Watts spoke of “shoving a few casks away in 2000” in the hope of creating a product that would always remind him of the new millennium.
I was glad to have had Three Ships second because it’s a commanding, layered drink that could easily put off a first-time whisky drinker. Past the kilted man and his sombre bag- pipes was the home of Scottish Leader, “a blended Scottish whisky that lives up to its name”.
The first sip had me imagining rough-andtumble Scottish men in a dark bar, looking sideways at anyone who had their whisky with anything other than more whisky. Scottish Leader is husky and holds none of its secrets back. It kicked me in the gut and burnt my chest, leaving me convinced that after a freezing day I’d want to sip on a finger or two.
The industry uses great amounts of water to produce whisky and has had to look for ways to reduce and reuse the resource, especially at a time when South Africa is experiencing drought.
So the next time you hit the alcohol aisle, don’t curve the “old-man’s drink”. This girl tried it and thoroughly loved her Whisky Journey.
THREE TIMES A LADY Zenzelwe Mthembu, Jessica Johmann and Thobeka Mthembu at the whisky tasting