Time for a new blog post and as the prices seems to be constantly going up I thought that I would again focus on some serious budget whiskey from Northern Ireland. The Bushmills distillery is one of the oldest if not the oldest active distillery located in the village of Bushmills quite close to the north cost of Northern Ireland. They say that they got their license to distill already in 1608 which would make it over 400 years ago. But that license was actually granted to a local landowner and the Bushmills distillery was built and licensed in 1784. But that is normal marketing fluff and putting 1608 on the bottles looks cool I guess..
Bushmills makes both Blended Irish Whiskey and Single Malt Irish Whiskey. The core range consists of the Bushmills Blended Irish Whiskey (White Label), Bushmills 10 years old Single Malt Whiskey, 16 years old Single Malt Whiskey and the 21 year old Single Malt. Then there is the Red Bush, Black Bush, Rum Finish and Bourbon Finish as latecomers.
Today I will focus on five of the most basic ones in the Bushmills range and also the ones that are most affordable. There is the Original or White Bush, Caribbean Rum Finish, Red Bush, Black Bush and 10 year old Single Malt Whiskey. I will also note the prices I paid for the bottles as reference.
White Bush – 18€
Caribbean Rum Finish – 23€
Red Bush – 21€
Black Bush – 20€
10 Year Old – 31€
Bushmills Original (White Label) Blended Irish Whiskey 40%
Nose: light metallic smell, vanilla, fruity, light spicy notes
Taste: vanilla, light spice, fruity, pear, honey
Finish: vanilla but rather short
Verdict: Light, easy, quite unoffensive. Earlier I did not like this at all as it had a very metallic tone in the taste also but that seems to have dissipated when the bottle has been open for a while. Nice! I was ready to pour hellfire over the bottling but I have to tone down the rhetoric to a very basic whiskey. No tingling feelings or anything else. Very forgettable. Information I found on the interwebs claims that the mix of the blend would be 55% single malt and 45% grain whiskey.
Bushmills Caribbean Rum Cask Finish 40%
Nose: vanilla, cocoa, tropical fruits, the same metallic note as in the white label
Taste: sweet rum, vanilla, toffee, demerara, light butterscotch, light spices
Finish: sweet and toffeelike
Verdict: There is definitely more robust and the rum cask finish definitely brings a distinct sweetness and more fruity notes. Still a rather light and delicate whiskey but quite impressive for the price range. The rum casks really work well with Irish Whiskey. (Sidenote, the Tullamore DEW XO rum cask finish is even better…)
Bushmills Red Bush Blended Irish Whiskey 40%
Nose: oak, toffee, cinnamon, fruity, vanilla
Taste: sweet malt, vanilla, toffee, honey, ripe fruit, light spices
Finish: sweet with light spices
Verdict: Nice! This one is a surprise. The malt content is higher than the white label and also it uses more first fill bourbon barrels to bring more vanilla notes. Very impressive I would say. Again, well worth the money spent on the bottle.
Bushmills Black Bush Blended Irish Whiskey 40%
Nose: toffee, berries, dark fruit, vanilla, chocolate
Taste: vanilla, honey, light spice, toffee, butterscotch, ripe fruit, chocolate
Finish: light chocolate and vanilla
Verdict: Again another cask mix. Approximately 80% single malt and 20% grain whiskey and the cask ratio is approximately 70% sherry casks and 30% bourbon casks. And you can feel the sherry influence in the whiskey. Lovely chocolate notes and this already lingers in the mouth much longer. This one is a winner definitely.
Bushmills 10 years old single malt 40%
Nose: fresh fruit, vanilla, honey, light spice, marzipan
Taste: fresh fruit, vanilla, toffee, honey, pear, apple
Finish: sweet fruits
Verdict: A very nice single malt but I am not sure if it is worth the extra money compared to the Black Bush. You feel the difference as the taste lingers in the mouth so much longer but feels that the cask ratio is more bourbon than sherry and that makes it more mellow and fruity. Again not too shabby compared to the cost but I have a bit of mixed feelings here compared to the earlier ones…
Final comment. As budget whiskies go Bushmills produce quality stuff for less dinero. And the Black Bush is a definite value for money winner in this set. But the 10 years old, Red Bush and Rum Cask Finish are very close behind. The White one I would avoid as the price difference is so small.