Whisky Magazine Issue 114
This article is 19 months old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.
Copyright Whisky Magazine © 1999-2015. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.
Like many a Yorkshire lad Andy Watts grew up in the 1960s and 70s dreaming of becoming a professional cricketer. He had the talent as a batsman and medium-pace bowler to make those dreams a reality, playing first-class cricket with Derbyshire County Cricket Club. Watts then moved to South Africa to play for a team based in the Cape winelands, eventually settling down and raising a family.
Thirty years later the 53-year-old Englishman is still pretty handy with the willow, but is better known as the master distiller at Wellington's James Sedgwick Distillery, and a passionate advocate of South African whisky.
Q: Andy, once you were living in South Africa how did you end up working at the James Sedgwick Distillery and becoming master distiller?
A: This is a book on its own! The shortened version is that I was in the right place at the right time on more than one occasion.
It was cricket, which originally brought me to South Africa. I coached at schools throughout the Boland region and then also played for Wellington and Boland. At that stage of my life I had already fulfilled my dream of being a professional sportsman. I just had no idea of what was lying ahead for me.
The journey to the James Sedgwick Distillery began in 1986 when at a social gathering I met the directors of Morisson Bowmore, which was doing business with Stellenbosch Farmers' Winery (SFW) where I was working.
This meeting resulted in a technical exchange being set up whereby I would go to Scotland and wo...