Old Bushmills Irish Whiskey advert- depicting the Cheshire Hunt .Officially the worlds oldest whiskey distillery- when in 1608 King James I granted Sir Thomas Phillips,landowner and Governor of Co Antrim,Ireland – a licence to distill.It was in 1784 when Mr Hugh Anderson registered the Old Bushmills Distillery and the Pot Still became its registered trademark, which is still a mark of genuine distinction to this day.
50cm x 65cm Belfast
The Bushmills 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 (Irish adventurer) by King James I to distil whiskey.
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 Philadelphiaand 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.
- 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.