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.
Cape Town, South Africa