The drink is believed to be the world’s first whisky finished in a cask previously used for the maturation of Pinotage.
Three Ships 15 Year Old Pinotage Cask Finish is the oldest whisky to date launched in South African history. There will be only 3,500 bottles of the 4,000 bottles available for purchase by the public.
Master distiller Andy Watts said: “Whisky finishes are nothing new, but never before has a Pinotage cask ever been used. The idea first came to me in the early 2000s but back then our industry was still very young and the world wasn’t quite ready to accept such innovation from South Africa.
“But I had never let go of my dream so some years later I had laid grain and malt whisky to rest in American casks for the purpose of finishing the blend in Pinotage casks. That was 15 years ago. Seems like half a lifetime has passed since then! This moment of being able to stand with the finished product in my hand is, in 25 years as a master distiller, truly the pinnacle of my career. I’m literally on cloud nine!”
The grain and malt components of the whisky were first matured separately in American casks before being finished for different periods in eight casks previously used for Pinotage.
The wine casks imparted the typical Pinotage varietal character of red berry and a slight earthiness to the whisky, which softens the malt component and complements the sweetness of the grain.
The whisky is the second release in the Master’s Collection series, which, over the next few years, will see a limited edition launched each year under the Three Ships brand.