Glen Grant 50 – It’s time to go shopping!

Well now whisky lovers, here’s an idea…how about going to Makro to buy a whisky or two and enter a competition to win one of the greatest whiskies I’ve ever tasted. At 50 years old, It’s one of the few remaining whiskies that is older than me…by a couple of years. Roundabout this time last year I was at the distillery with Dennis Malcolm and a merry mob of whisky lovers from South Africa. Take it from me, the 50 year old is a magnificent work of art. So when I got this press release a few days ago, I thought…do I share it, or do I keep it to myself and try buy out all the Makro stock. Sanity prevailed, and I don’t think my whisky budget extends to all the Glen Grant stock at Makro. So here it is. Go now, go shopping.

And good luck.

To the eventual winner…please, whisky is best enjoyed when shared with friends. Old and new. Like me.


Glen Grant Single Malt Scotch whisky is running a promotional campaign in partnership with Makro that gives consumers a chance to win a bottle of the Glen Grant 50 Year Old, worth R200 000.

Only 150 bottles of the special edition 50 Year Old have been made available for sale around the world and only 10 of these bottles are available in South Africa.

In October 1963, a young Dennis Malcolm started working on the special edition when he hand filled a cask, without being aware that this liquid gold would shape his destiny. It would slowly mature for 50 years until it reached its zenith; ready to be presented to the world.

“I have protected and cared for this barrel for 50 years, letting it breathe and patiently waiting for the magic and interaction of whisky and wood,” says Master Distiller, Dennis Malcom.

This liquid gold is presented in a hand-blown crystal glass decanter – unique and handcrafted in every sense. Each piece is hand engraved, hand numbered and finished with the number 50 in 18-carat gold lettering. It is housed in a handmade copper-lined Scottish oak box, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity that is signed by Dennis Malcolm and every craftsman involved.

Whisky enthusiasts are able to win a bottle of the limited edition Glen Grant 50 year old between 15 July and 15 September, when purchasing a Glen Grant product in one of Makro’s 19 stores. The entry mechanism is simple:
· Purchase one bottle of Glen Grant Major Reserve for R219,95 – receive 1 entry
· Purchase one bottle of Glen Grant 10YO for R389,95– receive 2 entries
· Purchase one bottle of Glen Grant 16YO for R759,95 – receive 3 entries

Make sure that you swipe your Makro Access card to be entered into the competition.

Twitter: @GlenGrantSA”

An adventurous lunch, Madagascar style, with @threeshipswhisky @jsdistillery @riaanmanser

There is a little island off the west coast of Scotland, called Islay. There is a much larger island off the east coast of Africa, called Madagascar. In whisky circles, Islay is renowned for producing whiskies with a smoky aroma, the result of peat being used in the production process. Madagascar, well, is quite beautiful and is doesn’t produce any whisky. What it does is provide a place for nature lovers and adventurers to explore. What’s all this got to do with whisky, you may ask? The occasion was the launch of a Three Ships competition where the winner gets the opportunity to kayak around Madagascar with Riaan Manser and Andy Watts.

Who are these two? Riaan is an adventurer who sat on a rock in Newlands Forest. He swapped the rock and corporate life for a bicycle seat and cycled around Africa. Yes, in simple terms he hopped on his bicycle and starting in Cape Town cycled around Africa along the coast back to Cape Town. He has also gone around one of the islands off Madagascar by kayak, so his been there, done that and now wants to take you with him. Andy is the man who makes Three Ships whisky, we know of many awards, including best blended whisky in the world and in his former life, was pretty handy with a cricket bat.

The venue for the launch was upstairs at Truth Coffee in Buitenkant Street Cape Town. The Distell team took over the top section of the venue, installed a superb chef, and invited an assortment of foodies, bloggers and whisky folk to attend the launch. The theme was Madagascar and on arrival guests were treated to a whisky cocktail made with Three Ships and vanilla. Riaan entertained us with stories of his cycle around Africa, his trip to New York via the whole of the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, he decided to hop in a rowing boat and row from Cape Town to New York with his girlfriend. Andy told us some of the stories about Three Ships, the next release of the 10 year old Single Malt (watch this space) and the care and dedication that goes into the spirit while the chef, who doubles up as a stand up comedian explained how he brought the flavours of Madagascar into the meal. Here’s where things got quite weird, if they hadn’t got weird before. One of the quirks about Madagascar cuisine is that as it is a very poor country, they use absolutely everything including, it seems, the burnt rice at the bottom of the pot. To this they add water and there is a soup called burnt rice soup. It’s not something that us living here at the tip of Africa would be used to. Thankfully the menu for the day was more extensive and much more palatable, one of the more successful whisky pairings I’ve attended. Kudos to Johnny Hamman, who achieved fame through Kokkedoor, and can quite easily embark on a second career as a stand up comedian if he ever needs to!

Andy took us through the whiskies for each course, perfectly paired, my favourite combination being the Three Ships bourbon cask finish with the dessert. Here’s a bit of inside info: the bourbon cask with anything that involves honey, cream or ice cream is superb. It is one of the best whiskies to enjoy with dessert.

The newest release of the ten-year-old single malt is expected round about November this year. I had a sneak preview of that expression when it was featured at a private tasting in Johannesburg last year. It’s a whisky that is going to make the rest of the whisky making and drinking world sit up and take notice as it is unlike any of the previous releases and something with a flavour that seasoned whisky drinkers will enjoy.

Photos to follow…


And part two of the Grant’s Whisky instalment of the day….


From May 2015, South African whisky enthusiasts can further explore the Grant’s rich history of stories and craftsmanship, with the exciting debut of the brand’s premium blend, the Grant’s Select Reserve.

Grant’s Select Reserve is a stand out blend with an unmistakable sweet yet rich and peaty flavour. Like no other in its class. Hand-picked whiskies that create a delicious multi-layered whisky with hints of fresh fruits, subtle spices and light peat smoke all enveloped in a vanilla sweetness. The finish is long lasting with a lingering smoky sweetness.

Lauren Kuhlmey, Grant’s SA Marketing Manager, comments: “This is truly an exciting period for us as we introduce this unique blend in the Grant’s Family. We believe that Grant’s Select Reserve is a premium, yet accessible offering in the blended whisky category and we hope that this new variant will set a high benchmark in the South African market. “

Grant’s Select Reserve is produced by the award-winning independent family-owned distiller William Grant & Sons, who produce a range of cask finished and aged blended scotch whiskies. The range of whiskies include Grant’s Family Reserve, the world’s oldest and most popular family owned scotch whisky, Grant’s Cask Editions, created by ‘finishing’ Grant’s Family Reserve in either ale or sherry casks before bottling and Grant’s 12 Year Old is the only blended whisky to spend an extra finishing period in American oak casks, producing a full bodied scotch of exceptional richness.

The Grant’s Select Reserve will be available to the South African Market from end MAY 2015, retailing at approximately R279.95 nationwide.”


6 in the morning is, I suppose, as good a time as any to catch up on whisky posts. Later this evening, the Whisky Live festival starts in Cape Town, at its new home – The Lookout, Granger Bay, V & A Waterfront. As I write this, it’s dark outside, quite chilly inside and I’m thinking about that great Scottish addition to breakfast oats – whisky!

And to start off the day, let’s have a large and loud slàinte mhath to Grant’s whisky, which won several awards in London.  Have a look at this press release from ButterKnife PR.

See you later at the show.


Grant’s, the famous blended Scotch whisky, dominated in this year’s Global Scotch Whisky Masters, held at London’s Spice Market, with every variant winning a medal in their respected categories. The family owned William Grant & Son’s distillery received top honours in various categories which include the Blended Whiskies, where Grant’s Signature took Gold and Grant’s Family Reserve, Grant’s Ale Cask and Grant’s Sherry received Silver. In addition, it has received a gold medal for its Grant’s 25 Year Old, a unique blend, containing twenty-five of the world’s most highly-prized distinctive malt and grain whiskies as well as the Grant’s 18 Year Old in the category of whiskies aged up to 18 years.

In the No Age Statement category, Grant’s continued to excel with the unique stand out blend the Select Reserve which was awarded with the Gold Medal.

Also awarded silver medals were Grant’s 8 Year Old and the Grant’s 12 Year Old, a blend of only the finest single malt and grain whiskies, each matured in oak casks for a minimum of 12 years.

The latest win reaffirms Grant’s worldwide credentials as one of the whisky industry’s most revered blended Scotch whiskies and adds a new chapter to the Grant’s story. The win also celebrates the family’s innovative spirit as its story continues to evolve, and started when the distillery produced its first golden drop of spirit in 1887. Today, Grant’s is the oldest family owned blend in Scotland, built on five generations of heritage, expertise and passion for whisky-making.

The Scotch Whisky Masters, launched in 2008, has become one of the most respected and high profile blind tasting spirits competitions in the world. It is the only competition that uses entirely independent judges and as such, attracts vast numbers of entries every year.”

“Grant’s, the famous blended Scotch whisky, dominated in this year’s Global Scotch Whisky Masters, held at London’s Spice Market, with every variant winning a medal in their respected categories. The family owned William Grant & Son’s distillery received top honours in various categories which include the Blended Whiskies, where Grant’s Signature took Gold and Grant’s Family Reserve, Grant’s Ale Cask and Grant’s Sherry received Silver. In addition, it has received a gold medal for its Grant’s 25 Year Old, a unique blend, containing twenty-five of the world’s most highly-prized distinctive malt and grain whiskies as well as the Grant’s 18 Year Old in the category of whiskies aged up to 18 years.

In the No Age Statement category, Grant’s continued to excel with the unique stand out blend the Select Reserve which was awarded with the Gold Medal. The Grant’s Select Reserve recently launched in South Africa, which makes this an even special accomplishment.”

The Spirit Business, which stages the competition, recognises the finest brands on the world stage. Patience Gould, editor of The Spirits Business, is joined by a panel of leading spirits and on-trade specialists, to judge The Scotch Whisky Masters and award excellence in categories including region, age, design and packaging.

Andy Watts should go back to England and take his Three Ships Whisky with him. @JSDistillery @ThreeShipsSA @bainswhisky

I’d love to see the back of Andy Watts, wearing a Three Ships shirt, walking towards an aircraft, carrying Three Ships branded luggage, heading out of South Africa. I’d be so happy to see him leave I’d drive him to the airport and have a party the night he left.

Why stop at England? He can go to America, Canada, Israel or The Netherlands. He can go to any country where they have a whisky festival. And I’d have a bigger party when he returns, having shared South Africa’s best spirit with the whisky-loving world.

But he’d better move quickly. England’s Midlands Whisky Festival is in September. Three Ships isn’t featured at WhiskyFest New York (September), San Francisco (October) or Chicago, in 2016. Is it too late to see Andy Watts presenting a Master Class at the Maltstock weekend in The Netherlands at the end of September? I hope not.

But Andy seems stuck here in South Africa. Sure, he goes overseas when Three Ships and Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky are nominated for and win various awards. This makes for good adverts and smiles back home in Wellington (the Cape version, not the one in New Zealand) but it doesn’t really help the whisky world.

What whisky lovers want is to drink the great whiskies in the world and, where possible, talk with the people behind the spirits. The master blenders, the distiller managers, the many souls involved in producing the spirit, all who can share some of their passion and knowledge about the whisky they produce.

In South Africa Andy Watts is the whisky guru. The man behind Three Ships and Bains tells a whisky story in South Africa, and that story needs to travel. He arrived here from England as a professional cricketer and is now a professional whisky maker. And in that capacity, we should send him back. Send him round the world, with his whisky, with his team, to as many festivals and shows as they can manage. It makes no sense keeping Andy and his whisky to us. Whisky lovers share – our drinks and our thoughts. For a long time our conversations have turned to whisky festivals round the world and the sad absence of Three Ships and Bain’s. We chat with our whisky brothers and sisters across the globe and hope that one day they can enjoy your whiskies, freely, instead of from 50 ml sample bottles we send over to them. We hope they can attend one of Andy’s Master Classes, plotting the journey of the single malts from new make spirit to the ten year old.  They want him in their own countries, even if it’s just for the shows. They want to hear the story of South African whisky.

So Andy, if it seems that the whisky fellowship in South Africa have become more vocal about our plans for you, we have. We would very much like you and your whiskies to travel to the rest of the world and show them just how well we do things in South Africa.

I hope the day is soon when the Three Ships and South African flags wave high and strong at a whisky festival outside South Africa. Then, we can sit here as proud South Africans, watching another great African sunset with a world class golden spirit made in South Africa in our glasses.


Bernard Gutman

Cape Town, South Africa



Joburg – your turn now for @wadebales @bunnahabhainSA Whisky & Wine

Last week I had the pleasure of talking whisky for a couple of nights at the Wade Bales Wine & Malt Whisky affair at the superb 15 on Orange hotel in Cape Town. It’s a great event with special wines and of course, whisky…malt only! I like the intimacy of the Wade Bales events and chatting with my fellow presenters, some of whom have been in the business almost as long as I’ve been around. One of the true legends is Pierre Mentjes, the genial giant who is the face of Bunnahabhain Whisky in South Africa.  The marketing folk coined the phrase “the gentle taste of Islay” to describe Bunnahabhain. It makes sense as Bunnahabhain doesn’t have the peat reek whisky folk know from the rest of the Islay malts. It also makes sense as Pierre is one of the true gentlemen of whisky and it’s a real treat to have him pour you a dram and chat about whisky. Go visit – it is a great event, with great people and great drinks.


Whisky enthusiasts will have an opportunity to sample Bunnahabhain’s sought-after Islay single malts at this year’s Wade Bales Wine & Malt Whisky Affairs in May in Johannesburg.

Award-winning* Bunnahabhain will be represented at the events by Mr Whisky himself, Pierre Meintjes. Considered not only a leading whisky authority in South Africa, but internationally, he is one of just 159 Masters of the Quaich worldwide, an honour bestowed by the Scottish whisky industry. He is the only South African to hold the title, in recognition of his contribution to the category.

Meintjes will present the 12-, 18- and 25-year-old expressions of Bunnahabhain, made by master distiller Ian MacMillan.

Bunnahabhain has developed something of a cult following amongst aficionados, for the relative rarity of its whiskies and their singular flavour that is quite unlike the peaty, smoky single malts traditionally associated with Islay.

The distillery is the only one on the island to use a natural spring water source and unpeated barley. Without the influence of the local peaty moors, the malts are far lighter on the palate than their Islay counterparts.

They are also un-chillfiltered in a return to a very traditional technique that gives rise to a rich depth of colour, aroma and flavour – as natural as when they come out of the cask.

The experiences are curated by Wade Bales, an influential tastemaker in connoisseur circles, who has chosen the brand for his exclusive line-up of luxury wine and whiskies. He has deliberately restricted the number of drinks on exhibition to ensure guests a focused, intimate experience, enhanced by a dedicated food area.

He has also launched a new app to let consumers learn more about the wines and whiskies on show and to rate, share and buy those they enjoy.

Johannesburg: Thursday, May 28, 18:00 to 21:00, The Firs, Rosebank
Friday, May 29, 18:00 to 21:00, The Firs, Rosebank

For more information, call 021 794 2151, or to buy tickets, go to”;


Whisky, burgers, chilled out evenings and World Whisky Day @jsdistillery @craftburgerbar1

There’s a little restaurant at the Bantry Bay end of Sea Point called Craft Burger Bar. I think they serve the best burgers around and it has my type of vibe. When I’m in the area and feel like a coffee, glass of wine, whisky or a meal, I go there. Yesterday evening I finished a long, long day and needed a pick-me-up. So…I called ahead to Russell, the host and asked him to make sure he had a wee dram ready for me. As it happens, the whisky of choice at Craft Burger Bar is the Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish. I enjoyed it tremendously. Now where am I going with this…yes. Whisky. World Whisky Day is coming up soon and guess what arrived in my inbox today – a press release about Three Ships!

I could say that I predicted the future when I ordered this whisky last night…or perhaps I just wanted a great whisky with a great burger…you decide.


World Whisky Day on 16 May marks a special day for anyone who appreciates the dedication, craftsmanship and passion it takes to create a premium whisky. Celebrate this global event with a proudly South African and internationally award-winning whisky.

Three Ships was launched in 1977 as South Africa’s first whisky brand and the whiskies have come a long way since those early days. Over the years master distiller Andy Watts has established a unique style of whisky-making for each of the Three Ships Select, Premium Select 5 Year Old, Bourbon Cask Finish and 10 Year Old Single Malt crafted at The James Sedgwicks Distillery in Wellington.

Using only the finest raw ingredients and innovation through experience the whiskies each spend a minimum of three years maturing in carefully selected oak casks. The whiskies offer a diverse spectrum of flavours and choice for whisky enthusiasts ranging from soft and sweet to smoky and aromatic.

The world has applauded these whiskies with a World’s Best, double gold and gold at all the major international whisky competitions where all the best whiskies from around the world compete for these prestigious accolades.

The Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish is the first South African whisky where both the malt and grain components are distilled and matured in SA. After an initial maturation of three years the final blend is matured for a further six months in bourbon casks. The result is a soft and warm whisky with delicate honeyed biscuits, vanilla and ripe fruit seamlessly blending into toasted Brazil nuts and mocha coffee with mild spice.

So enjoy this World Whisky Day with a proudly South African whisky, celebrating the extraordinary journey embarked on more than three decades ago.

The range of Three Ships whiskies is available nation-wide from leading liquor outlets and the Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish retails for about R180.

Three Ships Bourbon Cask with tin pack shot  (LR)

Whisky round the world viewed from Cape Town


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