Tag Archive: Bushmills

Bushmills: Steamship Collection: #3 Char Bourbon Cask (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to grain. Clear. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Quite strong alcohol. Lime. Pumpkin. Toasted teacakes. White chocolate. Crumpets. Burnt sugar. Butter. Light charring. Water adds an aniseed touch.

Body: Creamy. Alcohol warmth. Vanilla toffee. White chocolate. Buttery. Toasted teacakes. Water adds fudge. Light pepper. Very smooth. Creamy lime.

Finish: Toasted teacakes. Butterscotch. Buttery. Creamy lemon. Creamy lime. Water adds more creamy lime. Slight caramel. Aniseed.

Conclusion: This a very gentle Bushmills’ flavour-wise compared to the huge cask ageing influence of the previous two steamship expressions I have tried. That is something that seems somewhat of a mixed blessing here, for as much as a gentle, easy drinking Bushmills can be a cool thing it feels like there is some quite young spirit in this which makes it feel a tad alcohol rough up front and runs roughshod over the lighter flavours.

Neat, and on first pour, it is a bit alcohol rough and empty behind that. It is creamy in feel and taste, but it is hard to dig into the whiskey and get any depth from it. Time helps, clearing the rough fumes and gets this one going. The gentle Bushmills’ spirit character is there now, and showing very clearly the bourbon cask influence. Lots of creamy, buttery character with white chocolate and bready toasted teacakes flavours.

It is very much about the Bourbon influence though – the base spirit seems to give only gentle lime notes and a smooth but solid character to work at as the base.

Water helps bring out the creaminess and adds a touch of peppery spice that gives a bit of pep the whiskey needs. This is where it is at its best – creamy and easy drinking with more of the creamy lemon and lime notes coming out, against the bourbon influence of soft fudge and caramel sweet notes, but with just a few spicier notes. Now, at 40% abv and gentle you need to be careful not to add too much water, and what you get is not unexpected for Bourbon ageing, but here you do get a very clear expression of what that charred bourbon oak can do. It feels for the most part that the base spirit is just a delivery system for that experience.

Not the greatest Bushmills – lacking the range or vibrancy of their best expressions – It seems that pure ageing in charred oak isn’t the best use of their spirit to accentuate its strengths, but it is still an easy drinking and creamy whiskey that really shows the cask. Ok, but not a must have.

Background: Back in the day I loved the more unusual barrel aged expressions of Bushmills that popped up every now and then and I was sad to see them vanish. Thus when they started doing these Steamship expressions, aged in odd cask, they jumped onto my must grab list – though they are only available through travel retail which has made hunting them bloody difficult. This one was grabbed by my parents for me while they were on holiday – many thanks! It is a more standard expression that the past two (Port and sherry casks) being aged as it is, in charred bourbon barrels. Still, it was one I was happy to grab. Went with Arch Enemy – Will To Power while drinking, and went through a few measures as I contemplated my thoughts on it.


Bushmills: Steamship Collection: Port Cask (Ireland Single Malt Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep honeyed gold.

Nose: Brandy cream. Christmas pudding. Plums. Sweet red wine. Pencil shavings. Cake sponge. Water makes lighter and brings out almonds.

Body: Very smooth. Raisins and sultanas. Creamy toffee. Cake sponge. Malt chocolate. Dry port. Dry fudge. Light orange crème notes. Water adds sweet plums and slight grapes.

Finish: Creamy. Sultanas. Christmas pudding. Madeira cake. Vanilla toffee. Rye crackers. Malt chocolate. Light menthol touch. Orange crème notes. Slight coffee. Water adds plums.

Conclusion: This is very good indeed – it has that full, rich, port aged character, yet still manages to keep the smoothness of Bushmills, and even hints of the lighter Bushmills spirit character under the heavy dark fruit notes of the ageing. It makes for a dangerously drinkable, yet heavy flavoured mix.

Neat it is a tad closed in character, but it is still good – showing a range of raisins and sultanas character, leaning into heavy Christmas pudding notes. There is a light sponge backing and over time slight rye whisky like notes comes out with spice and light orange crème styling – these are however, just light backing notes.

Water is needed to really open it up – but only the slightest tough – this is a very easy whisky to flood and ruin. However, just a touch of water really opens it up into sweet plum notes and also lets the base Bushmills feel and light green fruit to come out to contrast the heavier flavours. More-so than neat it also becomes smoother and easier to drink.

What takes it from good, to great is the subtle heavier backing notes – starting at vanilla toffee and going into malt chocolate before ending with mild roasted coffee notes. It is a subtle weight that lets the dark fruit notes have hints of heavier backing without sacrificing the smooth and light core. The aroma also carries a lovely brandy cream note, but it doesn’t follow into the body so much.

My only disappointment with this is that it isn’t a touch higher abv – at 43-46% abv this would have has a bit more play and room to use water and that would have made it awesome – right now the water becomes too much, too quickly and doesn’t give you room to experiment. Some room to play would have made it so awesome. Still bloody good.

Background: Another hard effort trying to get hold of this one. I adored Bushmill’s 12 year Caribbean Rum cask finish many years ago and was sad to see it vanish – sadder still that Bushmills seemed to move away from unusual ageings completely for many years. Thus this Steamship collection was right up my alley – espeically since I loved their earlier Sherry edition. Both are travel exclusive so you can only find them in airport duty free areas. I saw this on the way out to China, but knew there was no way a bottle would survive my three week holiday and return home – so ever since then I have been trying to get it, to find that every duty free my mates and I hit was too small to have it in. In the end The Celtic Whiskey shop saved my hide as it looks like they got the chance to sell some of it. So I grabbed it. FINALLY! So, fully port aged Bushmills , that is a new one on me. Put on AFI, Burials while drinking this. Mainly because “I hope you suffer” is Jimmy Havoc’s entrance theme in wrestling. I am shallow.

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.

Bushmills: Original (White Label): (Irish Blended whiskey: No age statement: 40% ABV)

Visual: Light gold.

Viscosity: Pretty much descends in an instant as a sheet of streaks down the glass.

Nose: Grain, lime, evident alcohol and citrus. Punchy and powerful – slight nasal burn, very fresh.

Body: Light lemon soufflé, liquorice and sweet glucose. Whipped eggs and cream. Cinnamon. Whipped cream, toffee and strawberry cheesecake.

Finish: Slight charring, ovaltine and lemon. Alcohol afterburn. Cheesecake base. Brown sugar. Spicy touch and lime.

Conclusion: A fiery young whiskey but there’s a lot going on in its sweet citrus flavour. The alcohol is obvious but within it is revealed shifting sweet flavours.

Not a premium expression, its burn and youth is evident, but there’s a lot more to be discovered than you would expect and that more than makes up for its burn, very nice for a more budget offering.

Not bad at all, sweet and fresh, does the job nicely.

Bushmills 10 Year (Irish Single Malt Whiskey:10 Years Old: 40% ABV)

Visual: Light straw to gold.

Viscosity: Many very fast forming streaks.

Nose: Light lime, alcohol, spice in tiny doses. Jiff cream, light grain and fields. Wet grass and a touch of honeycomb.

Body: Lime, cake mix, honeycomb and liquorice , potpourri.

Finish: Charcoal, a floral air, light smooth alcohol. Light grassiness and slight “quicksilver” feel. Coriander.

Conclusion: For a while this was my favourite whisk(e)y and while it has been superseded it is still a fine wee drink.

It is light floral and citrus, the quicksilver feel is just a small part of the whisky so it makes for an interesting addition to the light sipping whisky, rather than overwhelming it like it does in so many other whiskys.

Pleasant, light and surprisingly fun – an easy going yet firm whisky.

A will never object to having a bottle ready-to-hand.

Bushmills: Black Bush (Irish Whiskey: No Age Statement:40% ABV)

Visual: Healthy thick burnished gold.

Viscosity: Surprisingly thick slow streaks.

Nose: Red grapes, oak. Wood shavings and barley. Some grain fields and sweet honeycomb.

Body: Raspberries and blackberries. Light on the front then slowly builds. Apricots and sherry, roasted chicken skin. Gravy. Malt and honeycomb.

Finish: Big dry wood. Spicy warmth and light dust. Slight burnt wood and more gravy.

Conclusion: A lovely fiery rich and slightly sweet whisky with a pounding back and settled base.

The best of the younger Bushmills expressions with a simple and exciting character. For many this is the go to whiskey.

Lovely mellow back to ease the fire of the front, and spicy enough to play. Even better this is a common find in bars and so can be sampled with comparative ease.

A whiskey of everyday celebration.

Bushmills 1608: 400 year anniversary edition (Ireland: Blended: 46% ABV)

Blended Whiskey (95% malt 5% grain)

Visual: a light fresh yellow gold.

Viscosity: Thick slow trails start after a few long moments consideration

Nose: Corn fields. Apple pie, delicate and sweet, dusted sugar grains, Danish pastries. A whole delicatessen of sweet delights.

Body: Vanilla, carrot cake. A dry edge like oatmeal biscuits encircles a sweet centre.

Finish: shortbread haze and dry biscuitness, a slight harshness at the back but mostly mellow. Pancakes. The slightest burnt cinders hint out occasionally.

Conclusion: A sweet toothed dance through the mellow and smooth end of the whiskey range. A touch of water reduces the harsh notes but also blunts the higher notes for a more balanced but somewhat lessened experience.

Biscuity sweet and smooth, this shows wonderful presence; Its after notes are the only let down, some elements stay a touch too long and after a full measure the elements can become distracting. Overall a fine whiskey to go with dessert.

Bushmills 21 Year Single Malt (Irish Whiskey: Single Malt: 21 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Light honey

Viscosity: thin but slow to form streaks

Nose: figs, port and dry oak, rich fruit pudding and brandy cream

Taste: rich summer fruits, sweet wine, that bushmills something

Finish: Dry wood, black cherry hint of vanilla

Conclusion: A amazingly complex and well balanced whiskey, a masterclass effort and a delight to drink

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