Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is distilled and matured in one of South Africa’s most picturesque regions and is the only whisky to be made entirely from South African maize (yellow corn) setting it apart from any other whisky produced in the world.
With this in mind I have created a journey of tastes for you to unravel in appreciating this World’s Best Grain Whisky.
Bain’s Cape Mountain whisky
Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky represents a break from tradition and was conceived with our country and its diverse population in mind. The whisky driven by its style of maturation rather than its age, pioneering a new path in a well established whisky market. It is a whisky which like all of us is proudly South African.
THE STORY OF BAIN’S CAPE MOUNTAIN WHISKY
WORLD’S BEST GRAIN WHISKY
A first for South Africa
Launched in 2009, Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky has become one of the most talked about whiskies in the world, having been awarded as the World’s Best Grain Whisky at the 2013 World Whisky Awards and receiving gold and double gold at all the major international whisky competitions from London to New York to China.
Its latest achievement, just two weeks ago, at the 2016 International Spirits Competition (ISC) held in London it was one of only three World whiskies awarded a World Whisky Trophy…the highest honour which can be bestowed on a whisky. The other two whiskies were the Hibiki 21yr Old from Japan and the Kavalan Soloist Single Cask from Taiwan.
Portraying the quintessential elegance of single grain whiskies, Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky reflects the unique location of where it’s crafted near the foot of the Bain’s Kloof Pass in the Western Cape. The whisky is inspired by the natural beauty of the Cape Mountains, is the only whisky made solely from South African yellow maize (corn) and double matured to lead the innovation of whisky making around the globe.
SA’S 1ST SINGLE GRAIN WHISKY
Originating from one distillery
“Single” refers to the fact that Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky originates from one particular distillery, the James Sedgwick Distillery. It is here that Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky, South Africa’s first single grain whisky, is distilled and matured. As the only grain whisky made from 100% South African maize the whisky is unique and distinctive in its flavour profile.
South African grain is world-renowned in the distilling industry for its superior quality. Until the mid-1980s, Scotland used to import grain from South Africa for its own whiskies. It was only natural for us to make use of our own outstanding raw materials to produce Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky.
To appreciate the elegant style of a single grain one needs to take note of the three types of whiskies namely malt, grain and blended whisky (a combination of malt and grain whiskies). Malt whisky is made from malted barley whilst grain whisky is made from wheat or maize. Grain whiskies, such as Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky, are generally much lighter in style than the malts.
The new wave of single grain whiskies have sparked an interest in what was once the humble component for the production of a blended whisky to where it is today leading whisky enthusiasts quest for a lighter and smoother style.
Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is driven by its style of maturation rather than its age.
The whisky is aged for three years in medium-charred American oak casks used initially to mature bourbon. It is then transferred to a fresh batch of barrels, also previously used for bourbon, and aged for an additional 18 to 30 months maturation. This innovative double maturation ensures maximum extraction of flavours from the oak with a finish of vanilla, tropical fruits, spice and toffee.
In addition, the warmer climate in South Africa is much higher than in the traditional northern hemisphere whisky countries. So too the percentage lost known as the ‘angel’s share’ (the fraction of alcohol and volume lost during the maturation process). We lose approximately 5% per annum compared to our Scottish colleagues 1% to 2% per year. But this warm climate accelerates maturation and the speed of flavour extraction from the carefully selected oak casks. As a result Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is exceptionally smooth, a characteristic of generally older whiskies matured in a cooler climate.
THE HOME OF BAIN’S
The James Sedgwick Distillery
At the foothills of the Bain’s Kloof Pass, one of the most spectacular of the mountain passes built by Andrew Geddes Bain, the legacy of this pioneering Scotsman is carried forward. It is here where South Africa’s ground-breaking grain whisky finds its home.
The James Sedgwick Distillery, the only commercial whisky distillery in Africa, is the culmination of visionaries that paved the way for the South African whisky industry.
In 1850 Captain James Sedgwick, the master of the clipper “Undine”, sailed into Table Bay and made the Cape his home where he established J. Sedgwick & Co, purveyor of quality liquor, tobacco and cigars . In 1886 his sons, who took over the business after his death, purchased a brandy distillery in Wellington. The business changed hands over the years and in the late 90s brandy made way for whisky production. In 2003 the distillery was renamed the James Sedgwick Distillery to honour one of the great pioneers of the South African liquor industry.
One of the most beautiful grain whisky distilleries in the world, it was awarded as Best Brand Innovator in Whisky Magazines’ 2011 Icons of Whisky competition and Best International Whisky Distillery at the 2015 New York International Spirits Competition for the innovative whiskies produced at this state-of-the-art distillery. The distillery was also awarded the Rest of the World Whisky Distiller award at the 2015 Whisky Icons award.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
Andrew Geddes Bain
Nestling at the foot of the Hawequa Mountain range, the historic farming town of Wellington lies in a picturesque valley in the heart of the Boland. It is here that the Scotsman Andrew Geddes Bain built the Bain’s Kloof Pass which winds across the Limietberg, connecting the town Wellington to the interior.
The pass was completed in 1853 and is one of the most picturesque routes in the Cape. Bain’s Kloof Pass, today a National Monument, blends in perfectly with its natural surroundings.
At its base the road cuts into the mountain slope with sharp hairpin bends towards the summit, which tops out at 595 m above sea level. It skirts pine forests before entering areas rich in fynbos with many Protea species, sparkling, clear mountain pools and breathtaking scenic views.
Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is named after this extraordinary man and like Bain, who despite having no vocational education became one of the leading road builders in South Africa between 1832 and 1864 with eight mountain passes in all, Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is determined to extend its influence around the globe.
The leopards on the crest represent the Cape mountain leopard which roamed the area of Bain’s Kloof Pass since time. Regal and agile, these reclusive predators keep to the steep, inaccessible slopes of the rugged mountains. Today, the numbers of these endangered cats have been dramatically reduced but rare sightings are reported from time to time.
Our master distiller
Vision is one of the most notable characteristics of a true master distiller. And Andy Watts has not only transformed, but shaped the South African whisky industry with his passion, innovation and insight.
Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky was one such vision. It took Andy 10 years to create a whisky he knew the world was seeking. Long before single grain whisky became a new trend around the globe, Andy distilled South African grain, and laid them to rest in casks for what became the country’s first single grain whisky.
Andy sources only the finest local grain and whisky yeast and has a meticulous barrel selection to ensure the complimentary flavours extracted from the casks. He tracks the progress of the elegant spirit from mashing to distillation in column stills to its maturation in American oak casks previously used for Bourbon until it’s time to blend and bottle this exceptionally smooth whisky.
Only the sixth manager in the distillery’s 130-year history, Andy is originally from the United Kingdom, and he fell in love with South Africa long before he discovered his gift for creating whisky of incomparable quality.
Andy, at this year’s 2016 World Icons of Whisky Awards was awarded the title of “Best Rest of the World Master Distiller / Blender”.
To truly capture the very essence and inspiration of our single grain, simply add a dash of still mineral water to reveal its wonderful bouquet of flavours.
Delicious combination of floral, banana, honey, toasted hazelnuts and toffee aromas unravel with wood, vanilla and spice. Beautifully balanced vanilla, cocoa butter and light spices from the oak casks lead to a warm mouth-feel and long, smooth finish.
However the whisky has a versatility which allows it to be the perfect base for many cocktails and is a bartenders dream for the innovation and craft.
The whisky is superb when served with spicy curries, smoked meats and salmon as well as sweet-chili cashew nuts, all enhancing the delicate sweetness and spice. But the perfect serve is in the moment of reflection, the celebration of momentous achievements and the crossing of new frontiers. That moment is Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky.
– The whisky pays tribute to Andrew Geddes Bain, a Scotsman who built the Bain’s Kloof Pass connecting the town of Wellington to the interior. The pass was completed in 1853 and is one of Bain’s greatest work
– The whisky is crafted at The James Sedgwick Distillery near the foot of the Bain’s Kloof Pass in the Western Cape.
– The whisky’s only ingredients are water, yeast and grain with the exceptional flavour profile and rich amber colour derived from its double maturation in carefully selected American Oak casks previously used for bourbon.
– It took Andy Watts 10 years to perfect a whisky that he knew the world was seeking, long before single grain whisky became a new trend or South Africa was noted as world contender in the making of premium whisky.
– Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is named after this extraordinary man and like Bain, who despite having no vocational education became one of the leading road builders in South Africa between 1832 and 1864 with eight mountain passes in all, Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is determined to extend its influence around the globe.
– Similar to the landscape that surrounds the distillery, Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is a unique whisky and offers a taste experience that is unmatched
– The choice of only one grain offers a light style of whisky whilst the double maturation brings a superior smooth taste with notes of vanilla, spice and toasted hazelnuts
– Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is consistently awarded at all the major international whisky competitions with the most notable, being awarded as the World’s Best Grain Whisky at the 2013 World Whisky Awards
Although Bain’s is a grain whisky and matured in barrels previously used for bourbon it is very different from what one knows as a typical bourbon whisky.
– Whisky spelt in South Africa, as it is in Scotland and rest of the world, is without the ‘e’. Those from America and Ireland mostly carry the spelling “whiskey”
– Bourbon whiskey must be made from a mash bill which is at least 51% corn (grain)
– Bourbon can only be labelled as such if it was made in the United States.
– The spirit must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol (160% proof) and be no more than 62.5% when put into casks for aging in new charred oak barrels. Bain’s is distilled at 94.3% alcohol (188% proof) and broken down with demineralised water to around 68% before being aged in barrels once used for bourbon.
– The higher distillation strength allows certain congeners to be removed resulting a clean, light and sweeter spirit.
– Bourbon can only be matured in new wood and once the whiskey has been removed from the barrel it cannot be used again for the production of bourbon
– Finally bourbon has no minimum aging period, but to be acknowledged as straight bourbon it must be aged for no less than two years. In South Africa as in Scotland, the spirit needs to spend a minimum of three years in barrels before being able to be called whisky. Bain’s is double matured with a second period of between 18 to 30 months in a fresh set of casks previously used once for bourbon
– When tasting, bourbon reveals its signature upfront, powerful vanilla, spice and caramel notes which are extracted from the American Oak. Once the bourbon has been removed and the cask is used to fill the grain spirit for Bain’s, the extraction of flavour, although still lingering, is less pronounced resulting in a softer array of similar aromas.