Whiskey Tasting Notes: Bushmills

So here we go! My first published whiskey tasting. Can’t y’all feel the anticipation settling in the air?

The reason I chose Bushmills for the first tasting is based on two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to do tastings of Irish Whiskey first, because, although it’s questionable as to whether Whiskey was discovered in Ireland, it is pretty well established that it was their Whiskey that first found an export market beyond their own borders. So I’ll give them the first tastes.

And as for Bushmills? Mostly it’s due to pure marketing. I’ve explained before that the 1608 date on their bottles mean absolutely nothing in regard to the Bushmills company. But the fact remains is that out of the remaining distilleries in Ireland, the Bushmills distillery is the oldest.

Bushmills is currently owned by the multi-national company Diageo, but the distillery itself is based in Northern Ireland, in Antrim County. This is one of the places where my friend Krysta and I are planning on visiting whilst on the Emerald Isle.

My favorite Television show, The Wire, referenced Bushmills in Season 3, when the detective Jimmy McNulty is offered a Bushmills at a social function. His response: “What? A Protestant whiskey?” Then he proceeded to ask for a Jameson.

There is some evidence indicating that some folks base their whiskey choices in Ireland based off of the Protestant/Catholic divide. Bushmills is considered Protestant, while Jameson is considered Catholic. However, most of this division is based on nothing more than the location of the distilleries (Jamesons is based in Dublin, several hours away from North Ireland). The Jameson family, based on my readings, were also of the Protestant faith.

About the whiskey itself…It’s a blend. That means that several whiskeys are combined to give it a specific taste that the company is looking for. They also are likely shooting for a level of consistency from one year to the next. So it’s likely that the recipe for this label may change, even if only a bit, from year to year.

They also say that the whiskey is triple distilled, which means exactly what it sounds like…the whiskey goes through the distillation process three times before being put into barrels and aged. Bourbon and Scotch, as a point of reference, typically distill their product only twice. The purpose of this is to take the harsh edge off of the taste of the whiskey. As to whether this works or not probably depends on whether you’re a fan of Irish Whiskey or not.

Anyway, on to the tasting!

Eyes: Although I could find little evidence supporting my claim, I believe that Bushmills is artificially colored, as it is a blend, and so consistency in both taste and color would be desirable. So for this drink, color means little.

Nose: A little bit floral, a little bit medicinal.

Mouthfeel: A little oily, more viscous than one would expect, but quite pleasant.

Taste: It starts a bit hot, probably my fault. But a nice vanilla taste hits the back of the roof of the mouth. The finish starts a little musty, as odd as that sounds, but then reverts to a somewhat sweet ending.

Overall: You know what? It’s not bad for a mainstream brand. The sweetness of the finish was nice, and it’s not overwhelming in any of the senses. If I were to have a complaint, it would be that it could be a little bolder.

Would I purchase again? I can’t answer that yet, as there are so many other whiskeys to compare it against. But I wouldn’t turn one down if offered to me.