At ScotchBlog we often focus on the higher priced whiskies that move us to write about them for good or ill. In so doing we often seem to pass by what one can call "daily drams" because they fail to give us pause to think since we comparatively spend so much less of our money on them. Encountering Three Ships for the first time I was intrigued by its origins in South Africa and its use of Scotch whiskies blended with its own to yield a finished product. Upon opening it, that intrigue morphed into genuine interest in how a $35 whisky could deliver all that it does.
Coming from the James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington, South Africa (just under an hour's drive from Cape Town), this particular blend features malt and grain whiskies both from its own stills and from unnamed Scottish distillers as well. It would be wrong of me to speculate on the exact provenance of the whiskies in this bottle, so rather than speculating, please join me as we explore it.
Nose: Initially soft and sweet with just a hint of peat smoke, it quickly develops an enjoyable resinous twinge that reveals leather and tea. Below this a light nuttiness is woven tightly with oranges, herbal tones, and a salt air note while while something evoking thoughts of saw dust and polished hardwood hangs in the background.
Palate: Exceptionally easy to drink, the soft mouthfeel delivers a burst of grain whisky sweetness akin to caramelized white sugar that is wrapped up with a pithy combination of grapefruit and Seville orange. Of the key notes from the nose, the peat quickly fades away while the tea and leather remain, albeit muted, alongside a more defined hint of toasted almonds.
Finish: The sweetness dissipates into a dry, tart sensation while a quick flash of semi-sweet baker's chocolate appears. Meanwhile the peat notes reappear briefly but with little more than a friendly wave. While the finish may be fairly short, that only serves to bring me back to the glass again and again.
Overall: A very enjoyable winter warmer that displays excellent value for its $35 price point. Well constructed from beginning to end, this is an excellent gateway whisky with a gently peated character that is as easy to get into as it is on the wallet, thus cementing its status as a daily dram.