Bushmills has the oldest distillery license in the world and dates back to 1608. The distillery is named after the town of Bushmills and is located close to the northern County Antrim coast in Northern Ireland, just two miles from the famous Giant’s Causeway. It is currently owned by drinks giant Diageo. In addition to being the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland and the world, Bushmills also has the longest continually used logo. In 1784, the pot still logo was introduced in order to celebrate the formal registering of the distillery and this is still in use today, 225 years later.
Bushmills’ whiskies are all triple distilled in the traditional Irish way and the core range is a mixture of single malts and blends - this 10 years old is a single malt, with the 'Original' and 'Black Bush' being blends. These are occasionally joined by special limited releases. Sales of the Bushmills range had plummeted before Diageo took over in 2005 but now sales are constantly growing, following a sustained promotional campaign. The distillery is once again running at full capacity (approximately three million litres per year) to meet current demand.
The colour is golden with a slight amber tint. The nose is clean and fresh with a combination of interesting aromas - a lot of vanilla and cereal grains mixed with a distinct nuttiness (think of almonds and coconuts especially), some grassiness (imagine dried grasses or hay) and a hint of dried fruits and spice (think of sultanas and nutmeg). On the palate, this is smooth, clean and delicate with a creamy, almost soapy feeling in the mouth. It is very malty (those cereal grains again) and full of lovely vanilla and the almond/coconut nuttiness from the nose. This is in addition to another sweet element (think of toffee or butterscotch) and this is balanced with a herbal note (that dried grass again) and some woody spice (imagine nutmeg and cinnamon). The finish is of reasonable length, soft and bittersweet. It begins sweetly with vanilla and a hint of sherry cask influenced dried fruits (especially sultanas and candied lemon peel) before turning drier with the oaky woodiness and herbal grassiness prominent.
This 10 years old single malt is a lovely dram that combines its delicate nature with depth and complexity. It would be a great choice as an introduction to Irish whiskey. This Bushmills is becoming more widely available and can be found in larger supermarkets and specialist spirits retailers in the UK for between £25-30 a bottle.