Wellington Whisky

“Wellington must be the only wine route in the world with a whisky distiller as a member” said the big man and chair of the M&F Wellington Wine Route Schalk Burger at the Quest for the Best awards lunch at the Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel yesterday. Here he hands over a certificate for best spirit to distiller Andy Watts who credits the stellar performance of his brands Three Ships and Bain’s to Johan Venter, primary production director at Distell, who listened to his pleas for decent wood.

IMG 0883 300x168 Wellington Whisky

In the past, Andy had to make do with hand-me-down brandy and wine casks while this year urban legend insists he’s bought 45,000 barrels. While not confirming a French forest in the Boland, he does note “we’ve built two new warehouses which each have a capacity of 27,000 barrels and there’s not much empty space. A lot of the barrels are Bourbon casks for Bain’s.” Distell architects had better sharpen their pencils and design even more warehouses as domestic demand is such, production is under pressure again after the latest expansion of the distillery.

Sources say profits from recent 100% acquisition Burn Stewart, purveyors of Scotch, were a welcome boost to the bottom line which is bleeding heavily from the collapse of brandy and lacklustre wine sales. Which is a national tragedy, as brandy quality has never been better while Distell brands are on a quality roll dominating blind tastings. Doubters should try the 2012 Two Oceans Pinot Noir and the Uitkyk Carlonet 2009 with an open mind and empty glass. The rise and rise of whisky is music to the ears of Richard Rushton, soon to take over the Stellenbosch La-Z-Boy recliner of Distell MD Jan Scannell. With a former life in SA Breweries, RR is moving from beer into a more profitable packaging: whisky.