Anyone who reads a bottle of Bushmills will likely be drawn to the year “1608″ on the top of the label. In fact, next year, they are going to celebrate the “400th anniversary of the 1608 license to distill”.
What’s that you say? Is the phrase “400th anniversary of the 1608 license to distill” is a little clumsy off the tongue? Why don’t they just say “Bushmill’s 400th Anninversary”?
The answer is that 399 years ago, Bushmills did not exist. Heck, Bushmills distillery wasn’t officially registered until 1784, 176 years after the year listed on their bottle. Bushmill’s is playing a little loose with the history of Irish Whiskey and their own legacy.
The 1608 year has to deal with the license granted to Sir Thomas Phillips by the Lord Deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester. This license granted its bearer the “right” to determine who could or could not distill in the area of Rowte in county Antrim. Of course, if one wanted to distill, they would have to hand over a nominal fee to the holder of this license.
So what Bushmill’s is celebrating is not the age of the company that distills Bushmills whiskey, but rather the age of the license that permitted distilling in the area in which Bushmills exists – which, as luck would have it, is also called Bushmills.