Bringing together whisky and good friends

Three Ships 5 Year Old Crowned As World’s Best Blended Whisky

Three Ships 5 year old Premium Select South Africans are lucky people. Not only do we live in a beautiful country with a brilliant climate, we are also home to the World’s Best Blended Whisky!

Every year Whisky Magazine holds their annual World Whisky Awards which aims to select, award and promote the ‘World’s Best Whiskies’ to both consumers and the trade industry. The judging panel, chaired by Rob Allanson (Editor of Whisky Magazine) is comprised of drinks retailers, journalists, whisky writers, brand ambassadors, master blenders and distillers from the world over. The World Whisky Awards were held in London on 22 March and the Three Ships 5 Year Old Premium Select whisky walked away with not one, but TWO awards!

Three Ships master distiller and distillery manager, Andy Watts, can proudly add the titles of Best New World Blended Whisky and World’s Best Blended Whisky to the trophy cabinet at the James Sedgwick Distillery for his outstanding Three Ships 5 Year Old.

Upon hearing the good news I immediately got in touch with Andy to congratulate him and his team and put some questions to him regarding the Three Ships 5 Year Old and the win.

Andy Watts, Three Ships Master Distiller

WTF: Well done Andy, what are your thoughts on the win?

AW: This award of having the Three Ships Premium Select 5yr named as the World’s Best Blended Whisky is by far our greatest achievement to date. To come through 3 rounds of tastings against some phenomenal whiskies and emerge as the Overall winner is both a humbling and amazing achievement. We have always believed in our whiskies and the awards we have achieved over the last few years have obviously shown us that we are on the right path!

WTF: Can you give my readers a bit of background on the 5yo?

AW: The 5 year old was launched in 1991 as a blend of Scotch and South African whiskies. It’s origin was crafted after a technical visit I made to Morrison Bowmore Distillers in 1988. During that visit I was fortunate to spend time on the Island of Islay. A small Island off the West Coast of Scotland which is known worldwide for its incredible peated malt whiskies. I fell in love with the Island, its people and more importantly its whiskies. On my return to South Africa the idea of a peated blend was discussed and as they say the rest is history.

In the beginning it was a difficult journey because as you know peat is something you have to understand to appreciate in your whisky. We therefore knew it would be a long voyage and one which would need the whisky drinking consumer to be educated. With the help of tasting campaigns and the inception of Whisky Live we have seen the education levels of the consumer improve quickly and now the majority of Three Ships 5yo’s increasing consumer base know what they are going to find in this whisky. It is a whisky which Jim Murray in his 2012 Whisky Bible scored at 93 which on his scale rates “Brilliant” and he says “is the silkiest delivery South of the equator”. Maybe he was one step ahead? However this award bestowed by the Whisky Magazine includes the Northern hemisphere too… very satisfying!

Over the years the development of our own malt distillation program and the availability of more matured local stock has enabled us to slowly replace some of the Scottish component so that the blend is now very much proudly South African. Year on year we continue to face the challenges which working with peated barley and whiskies throws at you! I think what people still have to understand is that the addition of peat into the whisky making process and the blending of the matured whiskies is not an exact science. It is an art which can vary slightly so with each blend we work incredibly hard to ensure consistency.

WTF: How did your team take the news of the win Andy?

AW: This award will only fuel the dedication and passion which the team here at the James Sedgwick Distillery already have for their work.

Three Ships Whisky Cask There you have it. You won’t find the Three Ships production team resting on their laurels, they’re going to continue producing world class whisky.

It’s always a pleasure talking to Andy – as busy as he is running the show at Distell’s James Sedgwick Distillery he always finds some time to answer my questions. Thanks for your time and input Andy! (Now get back to work ;))

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Three Ships range of whiskies – you just need to have a look at the posts on my blog – and I trust that this award will boost Three Ships into the international limelight. I just hope Andy and his team have the capacity to handle the increased production volumes as whisky lovers the world over set their sights on this brilliant New World whisky.

If you want to find out more about this whisky, drop me a line, or visit the Three Ships Whisky website.

And for the South Africans who haven’t tried the Three Ships range yet, what are you waiting for? Priced perfectly for the local market there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a bottle or two or three at home. And remember, next time you’re pouring a dram of the 5yo, you’re drinking the best blend in the world.



  1. joe Clarke joe Clarke
    March 27, 2012    

    Lovely whisky & has been way under rated in SA, have thoroughly enjoyed it (since being strongly advised by a friend to try it), much to the sometimes peculiar looks from the more ‘aloof’ whisky fellows. Great marketing too! Special was right

    • Mark Mark
      March 27, 2012    

      Totally agree with you Joe! I’m an unofficial, self-appointed Three Ships brand ambassador, spreading the word wherever I go 🙂

  2. March 27, 2012    

    Congrats Andy and team!! I’m nursing a tot or two of the TS 5 yr right now. It is delicious and it’s great that they have received this recognition (on top of all the awards already accumulated)!

    • Mark Mark
      March 27, 2012    

      I’ve been having a dram or two of it all week Paul and am torn between which I prefer more – the Three Ships 10yo single malt or the 5yo blend.

      I guess I’ll just have to keep on enjoying them both 😉

  3. Brendan Brendan
    October 21, 2012    

    Well I am pleased my whisky journey has ended at home. As beer was turning my six pack into a keg, I moved to whisky to keep the boep at bay. Battling into it, I soon found favourites and went through the different whiskies seeking more. From the weak Glen Grant to the smoke in your mouth Laphroaig I searched for a decently priced whisky. I loved Old Pultenay, Glen Fiddich, Singleton etc but their price range meant it was a once in a while treat. I bought the Three Ships 10 year old single malt and was impressed that South Africa could produce a top whisky. But as it’s price fell in the treat myself range I kept searching. This week I ventured out and bought Three Ships Bourbon cask as I had decided to move my search into bourbon’s with Hog 3 being by daily drink. Well marketing does work as the blurb on the Three Ships packaging got me to try the 5 yo. So a trip around the whisk(e)y world has lead me home and I am proud to say a local brand is my international favourite. I’ll still treat myself to a Old Pulteney 17 yo, but I’ve converted my daily drink to Three Ships. Well done guys, it is a great whisky.

    • Mark Mark
      October 22, 2012    

      Great to hear your story Brendan. Yes, Andy Watts and his team produce some great whiskies. My introduction to the Three Ships brand was through the Bourbon Cask and now my cabinet is never without a bottle of the 5yo, 10yo and Bourbon Cask.

      • Brendan Brendan
        October 22, 2012    

        I enjoy their Bains as well. It is very “clean” when you just want a break from the “ruggedness” of whisky. I am sorry I doubted our local produce, and have already set about righting my wrongs by preaching the gospel. I compare Three Ships 5yo to a perfected Johnny Walker Green Label. Both start off sweetish then the smoke kicks in. Only difference is Green Label fights your taste buds too much, whereas Three Ships 5yo just works.

  4. Alex Alex
    November 9, 2012    

    I must also confess my guilt. Never bothered to try three ships. Bought Johnny Walker, Black Bottle, Jack Daniels and so on. Recently bought a bottle of Bain’s out of curiosity. Needless to say, I was blown away. Read about Three Ships 5yo having so many awards. Now that means it must be good. Bought a bottle of 5yo today… LOVE IT! The finish lasts forever.

    • Mark Mark
      November 12, 2012    

      The 5yo is great Alex. I also enjoy their 10yo and Bourbon Cask finish one too. Andy Watts and his team really know how to make good whisky. Keep spreading the word!

  5. potjie potjie
    July 3, 2015    

    Well done Andy, tasted your TS5 .Smoky smooth whisky, soft smoke blend.This is the only whisky I have after Johnnie walker Double black which kills other blends…Try having this duo, comparing qualities in whisky quality blending…go SA

  6. potjie potjie
    July 3, 2015, didn’t know SA could blend such perfection.Johnnie Green, watch out, this is on your heels blending. SA’s getting better and better!

  7. Shane Maistry Shane Maistry
    January 15, 2018    

    Wasted a lot of money on whiskies I just couldn’t enjoy. Since I tried Three Ships for the past 6yrs I havent drank any other brands. I just love the smell and taste of the 5yr. Superbly matured and very pleasant taste to the pallet. Excellently smooth on da rocks or ur favourite mix. Never have I woken up to a headache since having three ships. Excellent guys keep me happy and I’m urs for life.

    • Mark H Mark H
      January 16, 2018    

      Thanks for sharing your story Shane! The 5yo is an excellent all-rounder of a whisky and superb value for money.

  8. Pieter Goosen Pieter Goosen
    July 10, 2020    

    Definitely the best whisky under R200 a bottle, period, and it maybe even beter than some whiskies twice the price.

    I really do enjoy the peat smoke, something I was very afraid of to try. This really surpriced me.

    I must say, the flavors developed in only 5 years is astonishing, tastes much more older that 5 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *