Noble Savage (he said):
I haven’t really ever heard of Bain’s Whisky before; I’ve seen it at the local Makro, but as I’m not much of a whisky drinker, I never really paid attention to it. I think that, as an irregular whisky drinker, I’m so brainwashed by the “regular” Scotch’s and Bourbon’s that I don’t really notice other brands. So I was quite excited to try something new.
The event was hosted at The Baron in Sandown. The idea was that the event not be the “traditional” event, where we would sit around a long table making polite conversation while sampling foods that paired with whatever drink was on offer. This one was a lot more informal, and I for one really enjoyed this approach. There were a few Bain’s-based cocktails on offer, whisky (obvs!), and really lovely finger foods. This could be enjoyed around their little round tables, which allowed for mingling with the other guests.
The highlight of the evening was the chat with master-distiller Andy Watts. He developed Bain’s in response to changes in the whisky market, particularly post-1994. The market opened up to different tastes, and suddenly there was a younger demographic demanding something different to the above-mentioned “traditional” whiskies. Andy saw this gap, and started developing Bain’s.
Bain’s whisky is named for Andrew Geddes Bain, a geologist, road engineer, and explorer. The Bainskloof pass is named in his honour, and Andy used Bain’s engineering feat with this road as the inspiration for his whisky’s name. The pass lies between Ceres and Wellington, where the distillery is based. The pass was completed in roughly four years; almost as long as it takes to create a bottle of Bain’s.
To quote the website,” Bain’s Single Grain Whisky is a double matured whisky produced from 100% South African Yellow Maize, you may call this corn. We first mature it in specially selected first-fill bourbon casks for a period of three years; we then transfer it to a second set of first-fill bourbon casks for a further 18 to 30 months to extract a full rich flavour like no other.”
This process results in a whisky with a slightly sweeter taste than scotch, and a little less smoky than traditional bourbon. The cocktails on offer worked well with Bain’s (so I’m told – not really a cocktail fan), and it was very pleasant on the rocks as well. The food was great, too!
In my opinion, the highlight of the evening was the interactions with Andy. He is such an approachable guy, and patiently listened and answered all our stupid questions. It’s clear that he wants to draw a different crowd towards whisky; younger, dynamic, and disruptive. There’s nothing wrong with tradition, but tradition should still be dynamic enough to be inclusive and accommodating of “outsiders” showing an interest.
BoozyFoodie (she said):
I don’t want to repeat any info because Noble Savage gave you most of the details already. Teamwork yay! (NS – did you see I refrained from using any emoticons?).
So without trying to repeat too much info, I agree that this was a casual and intimate experience – especially because of the time we got to spend with Andy.
I thoroughly enjoyed the cocktails on offer, and I actually have a favourite! The Trailblazer was just the best – great balance of tastes and flavours, enhancing the subtle smoothness and slight sweetness of the whisky, instead of overpowering it.
A great South African whisky, worthy of all the allocades given – and the passion of the Whiskymaker is coming through on so many levels.
Cheers Andy! Thanks for having us, #BainsBoardroom was a fun and educational experience.