An image of a three ships bottle with a ship sailing away in the background

Review: Three Ships Single Malt

September is approaching fast and with it come several whisky festivals that I’ll be visiting. While looking forward to those events I remembered I still owe you guys a couple of reviews from the last festival I visited: Whisky in Leiden.

So, to kick this series of tasting notes off, I will start with the first dram I had when I walked into the festival. At one of the first stands I passed by, the Three Ships immediately caught my eye. I love trying whisky’s from new places after all, and I heard a lot of good things about this South African dram.

I saw my chance and took the dram to the test, and while doing so I took the following tasting notes:

Tasting Notes: Three Ships Single Malt – 12 years old


ABV: 46,3% (92,6 proof)

Age: 12 years old

Distillery: James Sedgwick Distillery

Owned by: Distell Group

Category: World Whisky (South Africa) – Single Malt

Awards:  SFWSC Silver (2021)

Chill Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes


This 12 year old offering from Three Ships has a very light nose. The first thing I pick up is sandalwood, but there’s some fruitiness here as well. Especially apple seems to come forward. There are also light hints of oak, but only faintly and never overwhelming like oak sometimes can be.


On the palate I’m immediately struck by loads of pepper, black pepper to be more precise. The oak is more clearly on the palate than on the nose as well and there’s plenty of smoke and peat to be found. But not in a way that it takes over, like with some known Islay offerings. For that matter it sits closer to a peated highland.


The pepper lasts well into the finish and lingers for quite a while. The combination of oak and peat smoke slowly turns into burnt wood. And to my surprise I find some charred meat as well. It reminded me of spending long nights behind a charcoal barbecue, grilling for a party. Not a finish I mind savouring, though it only has a medium length finish.


This was a very pleasant dram to start the festival with and it sits right up my alley with its flavour profile. That having been said, I must add that the whisky never really becomes complex or particularly bold. That’s not always a bad thing ofcourse, but if I were to put this in the category of a nice sipping whisky the price tag does start to play a role. For around 50 euro’s I do think there’s better value out there. But then again, world whiskies are often harder to come by and priced less competitively. And this does have a respectable age statement and great stats.

All in all, not a whisky I’d mind having on the shelve but also not something I’ll be seeking out per se. I’m glad I got to try it though, and if you’re looking to try a South African whisky I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this particular Three Ships offering.





Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes and how I determine rating and value.

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