Duration : 17 minutes
When whisky meets rugby! Olly and I took sides in the Bottle Bunker ahead of the first RWC15 semi-final. He is shouting for South Africa with Three Ships and I am backing the All Blacks with a New Zealand Doublewood.
Wellington, SA, home to the James Sedgwick Distillery who produce The Three Ships, is convergent with Paarl, a town near Stellenbosch in the Winelands, and home to some of the most amazing restaurants in South Africa. We tasted the 10yo Three Ships which we both found to have a similar flavour profile to a Northern Isles Scotch - think Highland Park or Scapa and you get the idea of this intriguing golden whisky. Hints of smoke, a sweet, depth of flavour and a great ability to go with my mackerel paté and, indeed, most fish, poultry and pork dishes.
The New Zealand Doublewood, also sometimes called The Dunedin after the town where it is made, is matured first in American oak and then in French, but in barrels that have been used for New Zealand red wines, either Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon. The difference that makes over the more usual dried fruit flavours from ex-sherry barrels is remarkable and, with 9 years in the wine barrels after 6 in American oak, this was the best example of wine cask finishing that I have tasted to date. I am intrigued by it. Olly would love to know how it would taste if the total maturation time had been in the ex wine casks. Has there ever been a whisky matured in that way? Do let us know if you are aware of one please.
We have no winner at this stage, Saturday’s match will reveal that. But we did taste two cracking New World whiskies which follow in the tracks of the wines of their countries in offering a serious challenge to the old worlds of whisky production. Good luck to all for Saturday.