Origin: Antrim (Northern Ireland)
Type: Irish Single Malt Whiskey
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry Oloroso
Added coloring: Yes
Owner: Casa Cuervo
Average price: € 40.00
Official website: bushmills.com
I have in my hands a great classic of Irish whiskey, one of those labels that have resisted strenuously through the many periods of crisis for the island’s distilleries.
The business was officially established in 1784, but the label mentions another year, the 1608, when the licence to distil was granted to a local landowner, Thomas Phillips, so that it could boast the title of the oldest distillery in the world.
The Bushmills Old Distillery Company was founded in 1784 by Hugh Anderson, and went through years of great difficulty with several closures, until in 1860 it was bought by Jame McColgan and Patrick Corrigan, from Belfast, who twenty years later found themselves facing a fire that razed the distillery to the ground.
The facility was rebuilt in record time and was quickly back in business, operating its own ship, the Bushmills SS, which carried their whiskey to the US and the East.
As with much of Irish whiskey production, the United States was an important point of reference, and prohibitionism hit the distilleries hard: Bushmills, thanks also to the farsightedness of Wilson Boyd, then company director, continued production, building up stocks in anticipation of the return to normality.
Bushmills continued to flourish, ending up, like all Irish distilleries, under the control of Irish Distillers in 1972, before passing to the giant Diageo in 2005, which later sold it to the current owners in 2014 in exchange for co-ownership of the Don Julio tequila brand.
The distillery’s core portfolio includes two NAS (Original and Black Bush) and three declared ages, the present 10 years, a 16 years and a 21 years, divided between single malts and blends of various grains.
Produced from 1987 onwards, triple distilled as is customary in Ireland and matured mainly in ex-Bourbon casks, this is Master Distiller Colum Egan’s preferred version: it shouldn’t be bad, after all…
Very fresh and fruity nose, where tropical impressions (pineapple, mango) intertwine with more local ones (melon, peach, citrus) with lemon zest. Vanilla, caramel, nuts, slightly metallic background. Light and a little static.
The sherried component is more present on the palate, with a sprinkle of chilli pepper at the mouth, declined in red fruits, anise and sultanas combined with honey, caramel, coconut and more lemon. Floral and herbaceous hints, with persistent wood in the background. More consistent than on the nose, but still rather subtle.
The finish is quite brief and metallic, of coconut, dried fruit, wood and cereals.
The low alcohol content has extinguished a whiskey that could otherwise have been more interesting and complex, while in its state it is a little anonymous and mechanical, not very involving. A little task brought home with little effort, with that metallic note that I would gladly have done without.
The Whiskey Jug