Maker: James Sedgewick Distillery, Wellington, Cape Winelands, Western Cape, South Africa
Style: Single grain whisky (100% maize)
Age: NAS (4-5 y/o)
Michigan State Minimum: $30
Appearance: Medium gold with medium, evenly spaced legs.
Nose: Roasted sweet corn, corn syrup, sweet hay, cardamom.
Palate: Full bodied and sweet. Caramel, amaretto, then burn. Opens up and gets fruity with water. Wild cherry, candy fruit slices.
Finish: Bubblegum, plum, then burn the rest of the way. A little less fruity and hot with water but otherwise the same.
Parting words: “World whisky”, i.e. whisky made outside of the five traditional whisky-making countries (Scotland, Ireland, Canada, US, Japan), is getting a lot of attention. New distilleries in Sweden, Australia, Taiwan, India and elsewhere are launching their products in the US and getting written about. James Sedgewick distillery is getting attention too, but it’s hardly new. It was founded in 1886 in the heart of South African wine country. Their Three Ships line is what they are best known for, but Bain’s appears to be their only product available for sale in the US.
It was a surprise to me. Before opening, I had expected it to taste like a Scotch grain whiskey or an Irish blend but it didn’t resemble either of those. The nose was very similar to a Canadian whisky but the palate was closer to a high rye bourbon with its bubble gum and caramel flavors. I bought it as a novelty but I could see Bain’s easily entering my regular rotation. It mixes OK, but I like it too much neat to use it for cocktails too much. Unlike many other world whiskies entering the US, Bain’s is very affordable at $30. All that adds up to a big recommendation.