Tag Archive: 25 Year

Bushmills: Millennium Malt (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 25 Years:  43% ABV)

Visual: A pale clear gold.

Viscosity: Extremely slow puckering trails for the most part.

Nose: Heather. Pungent passion fruit and musky perfume. Vanilla custard slice. Delicate sugar and toffee yet comes with a nose tingling touch of the alcohol.  Just the hint of rum and raisin ice cream. A drop of water does little but mask the more subtle flavours, though it does add under ripe fruit like bananas and apples.

Body: Very smooth and initially quite understated, Toffee syrup with an oaken back. Sugar dusting. Milk chocolate. Cookie dough. Orange peel. Water makes custard filled, spotted dick. Strangely water makes more robust rather than less and adds light apple to the mix.

Finish: Light bitter chocolate, raisins. Slight charring and kiwi fruit. Milky malted drinks that really last. Chocolate chip cookies. Water adds apple again, aniseed and liquorice.

Conclusion: So, the 500th tasting, the big event. For this we bring out a whiskey of delicate craft. The nose first entices with a formidable range, if not presence, it calls to a perfumed and sweet place that would seem almost cliché if not for the rum and raisin aroma that wafts over it. All elements are light and delicate in their sweet finery.

The body initially seems unassertive, a bad sign as it gave way all too soon to the malt chocolate finish, which to its credit seems to hold on indefinitely.  The character did improve with time, but it was the adding of a few drops of water that made for the shock change.  Instead of the expected lightening, it instead seemed to fortify the body somehow adding to the texture and adding a slight custard sweetness and give the flavour enough traction to grip .I’m not quite sure how this worked but it made all the difference.

It is still delicate in all its seemingly bourbon influenced finery (note: research says its aged in American white oak, which I take to mean Bourbon casks, though new oak is not impossible), without all the slightly more punchy notes of its 21 year madeira influenced cousin. This is then a purer representation of the base spirit, in all its cookie dough and chocolate chip glory and highly expressive it is.  An elaborate testament to how the heavier sherried offerings are not always the best way for a spirit to age.

To me, the 21 year may take my preference for its slightly more assertive character, but this however is a wonderful love letter to the spirit of Bushmills.

Background: My  500th tasting, and a whisky bottle I have been saving for a while for this special occasion.  From what I hear the casks were laid down for the millennium and sold by cask to private collectors. Thankfully it sounds like a good number of casks were made, so enough trickled out to the resale market that I could get my hands on a bottle.  (Frankly I have no idea how rare or common this is now, ten years down the line) . Notably apparently two casks were done at cask strength (unfortunately not mine, but hey).

While I am generally more of Scottish than Irish whisky drinker I have a fondness for the Bushmills distillery Single Malts and they generally do not let me down.

Ardmore 25 Year (Scotland: Speyside Single Malt: 51.4% ABV)

Disclaimer: tasted at a whisky show, this was a comparatively short measure so the tasting note is similarly reduced as I did not get time to contemplate the full range. However I still felt it worth sharing my thoughts on these whiskys I would otherwise have been unable to experience.

Visual: Light straw

Viscosity: Slow puckering, then the trail takes a long time to form.

Nose: Light straw, some peat, but overall a very light nose.

Body: Light golden syrup initially then the heavy peat growls though. Smoke, heather and honeycomb. An unusual and exciting combination of flavours.

Finish: Light grain and peat, alcohol punch and then a final trail of salt.

Conclusion: A formidable but light whisky, no salt until the end and without any of the medicinal qualities that often come with peated malts. Surprising and exciting. This is a worthy alternative for a peat head, or a brilliant taste for someone who normally is put off by the harsh elements. Expect to see some of the younger (and more in my price range) expressions being tasting noted later.

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