Old Bushmills Distillery
|Headquarters||Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland|
The Old Bushmills Distillery is an alcohol (primarily Irish whiskey) distillery in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, owned by Casa Cuervo. Bushmills Distillery uses water drawn from Saint Columb's Rill, which is a tributary of the River Bush. The distillery is a popular tourist attraction, with around 120,000 visitors per year.
The company that originally built the distillery was formed in 1784, although the date 1608 is printed on the label of the brand – referring to an earlier date when a royal licence was granted to a local landowner to distil whiskey in the area. After various periods of closure in its subsequent history, the distillery has been in continuous operation since it was rebuilt after a fire in 1885.
The area has a long tradition with distillation. According to one story, as far back as 1276, an early settler called Sir Robert Savage of Ards, before defeating the Irish in battle, fortified his troops with "a mighty drop of acqua vitae". In 1608, a licence was granted to Sir Thomas Phillips by King James I to distil whiskey.
for the next seven years, within the countie of Colrane, otherwise called O Cahanes countrey, or within the territorie called Rowte, in Co. Antrim, by himselfe or his servauntes, to make, drawe, and distil such and soe great quantities of aquavite, usquabagh and aqua composita, as he or his assignes shall thinke fitt; and the same to sell, vent, and dispose of to any persons, yeeldinge yerelie the somme 13s 4d ...
The Bushmills Old Distillery Company itself was not established until 1784 by Hugh Anderson. Bushmills suffered many lean years with numerous periods of closure with no record of the distillery being in operation in the official records both in 1802 and in 1822. In 1860 a Belfast spirit merchant named Jame McColgan and Patrick Corrigan bought the distillery; in 1880 they formed a limited company. In 1885, the original Bushmills buildings were destroyed by fire but the distillery was swiftly rebuilt. In 1890, a steamship owned and operated by the distillery, SS Bushmills, made its maiden voyage across the Atlantic to deliver Bushmills whiskey to America. It called at Philadelphia and New York City before heading on to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Yokohama.
In the early 20th century, the U.S. was a very important market for Bushmills (and other Irish Whiskey producers). American Prohibition in 1920 came as a large blow to the Irish Whiskey industry, but Bushmills managed to survive. Wilson Boyd, Bushmills' director at the time, predicted the end of prohibition and had large stores of whiskey ready to export. After the Second World War, the distillery was bought by Isaac Wolfson, and, in 1972, it was taken over by Irish Distillers, meaning that Irish Distillers controlled the production of all Irish whiskey at the time. In June 1988, Irish Distillers was bought by French liquor group Pernod Ricard.
In June 2005, the distillery was bought by Diageo for £200 million. Diageo have also announced a large advertising campaign in order to regain a market share for Bushmills.
In May 2008, the Bank of Ireland issued a new series of sterling banknotes in Northern Ireland which all feature an illustration of the Old Bushmills Distillery on the obverse side, replacing the previous notes series which depicted Queen's University of Belfast.
Current whiskey range
- Bushmills Original – Irish whiskey blend sometimes called White Bush or Bushmills White Label. The grain whiskey is matured in American oak casks.
- Black Bush – A blend with a significantly greater proportion of malt whiskey than the white label. It features malt whiskey aged in casks previously used for Spanish Oloroso sherry.
- Red Bush – Like the Black Bush, this is a blend with a higher proportion of malt whiskey than the standard bottling, but in contrast the malt whiskey has been matured in ex-bourbon casks.
- Bushmills 10 year single malt – Combines malt whiskeys aged at least 10 years in American bourbon or Oloroso sherry casks.
- Bushmills Distillery Reserve 12 year single malt – exclusively available at the Old Bushmills Distillery, this 12 year aged single malt is matured in oak casks for a rich, complex flavour with notes of sherry, dark chocolate and spices.
- Bushmills 16 year single malt – Malt whiskeys aged at least 16 years in American bourbon barrels or Spanish Oloroso sherry butts are mixed together before finishing in Port pipes for a few months.
- Bushmills 21 year single malt – A limited number of 21 year bottles are made each year. After 19 years, bourbon-barrel-aged and sherry-cask-aged malt whiskeys are combined, which is followed by two years of finishing in Madeira drums.
- Bushmills 1608: Originally released as a special 400th Anniversary whiskey; since 2009 it will be available only in the Whiskey Shop at the distillery and at duty-free shops.
Bushmills Millennium Malt 1975-1999 Collectors item
350 Individual casks of 1975 vintage Single Malt Whiskey were crafted using Bushmills triple distilled traditional methods. The whiskey matured in American Oak Barrels at the Old Bushmills Distillery, Antrim. Whole casks were sold as Private Casks. If you were on a tour of the distillery pre last quarter of 1999 they were very proudly displayed with the names of their often famous owners inscribed on the barell end. Some casks were sold to local or US businesses, Hotels and Bars, clubs and society's or just lucky individuals. Each year the Master Distiller, would sample and send a report to the cask owner on how their cask was progressing.
Delivered bottled and individually numbered with cask and bottle number. Cask owners could personalize each bottle with "Selected For" if they chose. The age is not listed on the distinctive blue bottle labels but they were all 24 years old in 1999. Number of bottles per cask could vary due to evaporation: however Old Bushmills Distillery guaranteed a minimum of 228 bottles x700ml Anything above this was labelled "The Angels Share". The whiskey was straight from the cask pure and unfiltered. The only addition was water from St Columb's Rill and delivered at 43% vol. 3% higher than the Bushmills younger malts.
Many thousands of bottles were given away as PR gifts for the Millennium. Many were savored during the celebrations and for the following 21 years. In 2022 we still occasionally they pop up for auction. Some of the famous Whiskey Bars in Dublin still have stock for a very special dram. They were at the time the oldest malt Old Bushmills had produced in all its history.
Bushmills Millennium Malt 1982-1999 Collectors Item
A green label, this time a public offering, sold in a wooden presentation box.
Some Bushmills offerings have performed well at international Spirit ratings competitions. In particular, its Black Bush Finest Blended Whiskey received double gold medals at the 2007 and 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competitions. It also received a well-above-average score of 93 from the Beverage Testing Institute in 2008 and 2011.
In popular culture
This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2021)
- Before attaining relative sobriety in the early 2000s, Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen was a heavy drinker of Bushmills, consuming as much as two full bottles per day.
- The band NOFX mentions Bushmills in the song "Theme from a NOFX Album" on the 2000 release Pump Up the Valuum.
- Tom Waits mentions 'Old Bushmills' in the song "Tom Traubert's Blues" (which was also covered by Rod Stewart).
- In the third-season episode of The Wire, Back Burners, Jimmy McNulty refers to Bushmills as "Protestant whiskey" when he is offered it after being told Jameson is unavailable.
- Burt Reynolds plays a police lieutenant in the 1975 film Hustle whose favourite drink is Bushmills.
- Todd Rundgren cites "a half a pint of Bushmills" as a poor substitute for love in his song "Hungry for Love" from the 1973 album A Wizard, a True Star.
- Paul Freeman's character Colin orders two Bushmills at a Belfast pub in the 1980 film The Long Good Friday.
- In the 1982 film The Verdict, the Paul Newman character Frank Galvin orders Bushmills and water at his neighbourhood pub.
- In Rescue Me[which?] the series, seasons 1–7, Bushmills is the common whiskey shared and favorited among the entire Irish Gavin Family and referred to in at least ten episodes.
- In Jackie Brown, a bottle of Bushmills is visible in scenes in Max's office and is referenced in the script.
- In Independence Day, Jeff Goldblum's character is seen drinking a bottle of Bushmills, lamenting the end of the world.
- In Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 6 "Piñata", Howard suggests to Chuck McGill to join him in his office, where a Mr. Bushmills is waiting for him - an apparently workplace correct reference to celebrate a recent lawsuit win in a difficult case by Chuck for the law firm.
- In The Eagle Has Landed, the character of Liam Devlin expresses a fondness for Bushmills whiskey.
- List of whiskey brands § Irish whiskey
- List of historic whiskey distilleries
- Master blender
- Old Bushmills History (official website)
- Alternative Whisky Academy
- Foley, Ray (2006). The Best Irish Drinks. Sourcebooks, Inc. p. 2. ISBN 978-1-4022-0678-8.
- Hill, George (1877). An historical account of the plantation in Ulster at the commencement of the seventeenth century, 1608-1620. M'Caw, Stevenson & Orr. p. 393. ISBN 9785876338280.
- "Bank of Ireland to feature Old Bushmills Distillery on new Northern Ireland note issue". Bank of Ireland. 11 February 2008. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- "Bank raises glass to famous drink". BBC News. 23 April 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2008.
- Rankin, Jennifer (3 November 2014). "Diageo Swaps Bushmills Whiskey for Don Julio Tequila". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
- Bushmills kick-starts 400th anniversary campaign
- Product Review of Bushmills Black Bush Finest Irish Blended Whiskey
- Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, p. 142.
- McCreary, Alf (1983). Spirit of the Age: The Story of "Old Bushmills". Bushmills, Antrim, Northern Ireland: The "Old Bushmills" Distillery Company Ltd. ISBN 0950908304.
- Jourgensen, Al; Wiederhorn, Jon (9 July 2013). Ministry: The Lost Gospels According To Al Jourgensen. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press. ISBN 9780306822186. OCLC 811206550 – via the Internet Archive.
- Mulryan, Peter (2008). Bushmills: 400 Years in the Making. Belfast: Appletree Press. ISBN 9781847580689.