Whisky tasting

Winter whisky paring at The Grill Room

What could be better than a three course dinner and whisky pairing on a rainy night? Not much!

On the 25th July, we went to experience the first-ever three-course dinner with whisky pairing at The Grillroom at Val du Charron. This was an evening full of good food, fine whisky, laughter and surprises with the award-winning whisky taking centre stage.

whisky cocktail

We were greeted with a smooth whisky cocktail pre-drink as we took our seats in the welcoming Grill Room. This will always be a favourite spot to visit. Not only is it cosy on a rainy day but the food is really delicious with unique flavours.

Before we started on our meal we were given a little bit of history of The James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington, which was really interesting and made me proud to live here. 

Some fun facts

Andy Watts is the master whisky maker who learned the art of whisky-making in Scotland. He was appointed as the only sixth Master Distiller of The James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington since it opened in 1886. 

The James Sedgwick Distillery is the only commercial distillery on our continent.  In 2000, our distillery was named the winner of Wellington Tourist Board’s trophy for the most attractive industrial site. 

With more than 150 000 casks of whisky in maturation any given time, the distillery handles the entire whisky-making process.  From milling the raw ingredients through to maturation and blending. 

You can book a tour to experience the distillery first hand. It is definitely on our bucket list.
For more info on the tour click here.

On to the food!


For our first course, we had the bobotie spring rolls with the Bains Whisky. They complimented each other perfectly. Now I am not normally a whisky drinker, I leave that to my husband. But on Thursday night I drank every single drop. 

bobotie spring rolls

The Bains whisky is a smooth whisky with a warm amber colour. It has toffee, floral and vanilla aromas with a hint of spice and oaky undertones.

Bains whisky is made only from 100% South African grain and is double matured in first-filled bourbon casks. Bain’s innovative double maturation ensures maximum extraction of flavours from the oak cask. The result is an exceptionally smooth whisky with a rich, warm amber colour, a combination of toffee, floral notes and vanilla aromas and a hint of spice and oaky undertones that deliver an extended mouthfeel.

Bains is the perfect entry-level whisky for anybody wanting to start drinking the liquid of the gods.


The main course consisted of a rump/sirloin steak, grilled to perfection which came blue cheese sauce and side meal. I had the sweet potato mash as my side and my husband had the skinny fries. I have never in my 30 years alive tasted a more perfectly cooked steak and I don’t know what spices they put in the sweet potato mash but I cleaned every morsel on my plate. 

Rump steak with blue cheese sauce

Paired with the meal we had the 5 year Three Ships Whisky. In 2012 it won the world’s best-blended whisky. If that is not perfection, I don’t know what is. It is beautifully balanced with a blend of the finest malt and grain whiskies. Distilled in both pot and column still and left to mature for a minimum of 5 years. It has a full peaty character and smooth finish. The peaty character is combined with fruit and ends with a warm spice when taking a sip. 

adjective, peat·i·er, peat·i·est.
of, pertaining to, resembling, or containing the substance peat.

a highly organic material found in marshy or damp regions, composed of partially decayed vegetable matter: it is cut and dried for use as fuel.

such vegetable matter used as fertilizer or fuel.


For the decadent dessert, we had the scrumptious chocolate pudding paired with the 10-year-old Single Malt Three Ships Whisky. It has a rich and complex character which is uniquely peaty. On the nose, you get peat, leather, dried fruit, banana and pineapple with the perfect fruitcake taste once you take a sip.

By this time I was happy, content and sleepy, as this whole experience does take some time. In between each course, the manager and whisky maker of The James Sedgwick Distillery gave us an explanation of each whisky, a little bit of history, awards won and asked some questions. The people that answered first and correctly got some whisky to take home!

Now the desert was just heavenly! I could barely finish it, but finish I did. Overall this was a night in a lifetime. I am glad we went for the whisky pairing. We did not feel like the odd couple out and was treated like royalty. If the Grill Room hosts another whisky pairing I would encourage any whisky lover to go. After this great experience, we really want to go do the Whisky Tour at The James Sedgwick Distillery. So watch this space for that review. 

Bain’s Whisky –
Three Ships Whisky –
Photos by
Drikus Koegelenberg

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