Bushmills St. Patrick’s Day Tasting @ The Wellington, Birmingham – 16.03.17

We may both have red facial hair (and a slight penchant for alcohol), but neither Rob B or myself have an Irish bone in our body.
When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day though we thought it would be rude not to join in the festivities.

While being fairly inexperienced with Irish whiskey we were both aware of the current surge in interest and were looking forward to experiencing what the emerald isle had to offer.

After a customary swift pint in the bar downstairs we made our way to the top floor of The Wellington where Vicky from The Birmingham Whisky Club greeted us with a hug and a smile and introduced us to Darren, Bushmills’ brand ambassador and our host for the evening.


We grabbed a couple of seats and took a quick sniff of the drams in front of us; although there were only 5 filled nosing glasses we had a Bushmills tumbler and a miniature of Bushmills Black Bush to take away with us – cash back!


Darren ran through a brief history of Bushmills and explained a few of the differences in the production of Irish whiskey compared to Scotch (that extra day in oak just to piss off the Scots is brutal) before we got stuck in to the tasting proper.


Bushmills Original – 40.00%

NOSE – 19
Creamy cereal notes on the nose with a hint of grain whisky.
Nutty on the palate with some floral and even citrus notes coming through.
Creaminess continuing from the nose on through.

FINISH  – 12
Very little finish on this one, no heat and the flavours dissipate rather quickly.
Perfectly pleasant if lacking on the finish.
Quite soft and inoffensive in flavour – I’d be surprised if many people disliked it.
A nice tumbler pour.


Bushmills Black Bush – 40.00%

NOSE – 21
A much more fruity nose than the Original, with some floral notes showing and then out of nowhere, liquorice jumps out at you.
Toffee notes show prominently and very faintly sherried fruit starts to comes through.
FINISH  – 16
Longer drier finish with some bitterness and sherried fruit. Fire coming through late.
A shame the strength of flavour from the nose didn’t carry through to the palate; nice flavours just not vivid enough.


Bushmills Red Bush – 40.00%

NOSE – 21
Creamy vanilla presents instantly and light sweet spices start to show once you get past the vanilla.
Sweet soft vanilla is still present and dominates the palate.
Floral notes make themselves known.
Earl Grey even?
FINISH  – 16
The finish is very soft with no heat.
The vanilla still pervades and lasts right to the close.
Lovely light dram, dominated by vanilla and fresh new oak notes.
Perfect for a Summers evening.


Bushmills 10 Year Old – 40.00%

NOSE – 15
Some cereal and sugar are present but vanilla is predominant.
Soft on the palate with creamy cereal/barley influence growing and vanilla from the nose dying back.
FINISH  – 15
Short to medium finish with vanilla showing again but still primarily cereal.
A little more fire than Original and a much stronger finish.
A pleasant balancing act between sweet vanilla and creamy cereal.


Bushmills 21 Year Old – 40.00%

NOSE – 21
Light sherry on the nose, very little else.
Madeira straight away on the palate with vanilla sweetness showing.
Some dark sugar begins to show and enriches the palate.
FINISH  – 17
Short to medium finish with sugar paramount and some madeira lasting through from the palate.
Very little heat.
Interestingly, Triple cask matured (bourbon, sherry and madeira) and all three show through.
Not quite enough character considering it’s age, but definitely enjoyable.
Both Rob B and another blogger we were talking to (NoNonsenseWhisky) both noticed sulphur?
It’s something that I didn’t pick up but never have before and as it’s purported to only be detectable by a very small percentage of people I’ll have to take their word for it.


My pick for the evening on taste alone would be the Red Bush, but factoring in that you can pick up a bottle of Original for £18-£20 my overall pick would most likely land there.


If I’m being honest, I struggled a little with how to go about the ratings.
As I primarily drink Scotch and the nuances between these Irish drams/expressions were a lot more subtle than I’m used to I found it difficult to stop myself from comparing with my usual frame of reference.
I’d be interested to try some varying ABVs and some bottlings from other distilleries to create a whole new frame of reference for when I come back to Irish wares, which if given the chance I most certainly will.

I’ve heard a few times that Irish whiskey is “like a blended Scotch” and this, in my opinion at least, is completely wrong.
It most definitely stands on its own two feet and has a voice of its own that deserves the chance to be heard.
So, next time you’re in a pub or a bar, have the chance and the inclination, give Bushmills a try, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Disclaimer: The tickets we received to this tasting event were provided in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.


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