CityPress - - News - CLAU­DIA SIBUTHA clau­dia.sibutha@city­press.co.za

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

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