The Home Of Whiskey - A day at Bushmills
Whenever you think of whiskey, you think of Ireland, when you put both those things together then there is only one drink and one place that comes to mind. Bushmills!
Now, I should confess. Before my trip out to Northern Ireland, I was not a huge fan of whiskey. I would have it when offered but wouldn't go out of my way to have it. Boy, has that now changed! *WAITER!*
Seeing how much hard work, knowledge and passion goes into each bottle made me appreciate the product much more, and that was before I had even stepped foot in the tasting room. The flare that David and his team at the distillery have for the brand is crystal clear (even if I did struggle with the accent from time to time). As soon as you walk out of the car park, you get a delicious scent of malted barley (if the wind is blowing in the right direction) and this scent follows you around.
The barrel store also smelt incredible (theres a theme here). A colossal room, floor to ceiling with thousands of different types of casks is a wonderful sight. What was really fascinating was the pure amount of whiskey that evaporates every year as the product matures. They call this disappearing whiskey 'The Angels Share' - there must be some properly pissed angels knocking about up there, that's all I'm saying.
It's a fascinating place and there is always so much going on all around. For me, the number one thing was the bottling plant and the mechanism for washing, filling and packing the bottles. I'm a nerd at heart and watching this process was hypnotic I could have spent all afternoon watching the process over and over again. Almost as if Sigmund Freud had re-incarnated himself as a bottling machine and had control of my mind. David the Distilling Manager had to tow me away from the viewing deck like a car with four flat tyres #emotional
And so onto tasting and what a treat. When you come to the distillery make sure you save some time in your day to sit down with a member of the Bushmills team and get talked through the production process and tasting notes for the whiskey's made here. The 12 year, 16 year and 21-year-old whiskey's were a real eye opener for a previous non-whiskey drinker like myself. I never knew they could have so much flavour, intensity and depth. The 16-year-old (which now sells for an eye-watering £110 a bottle, if you can find it that is as it's sold out even at the distillery itself) was the pick of the bunch in my opinion.
I now have a new favourite drink, before this trip, I was firmly in the gin camp. Now, give me a Bushmills and ginger ale any day of the week and I'll slurp that down like a kid with a slush puppy. The craft, the passion, the knowledge, the experience and the flavours that are in every drop of Bushmills can only really be appreciated after a trip to see how it all comes together.
The visitor centre is rich with information and with history, and you can really sense that as you walk around. Adult tickets are a very reasonable £8 and children are £4.50 (however if under 8 are not allowed on the tour due to safety reasons)
On the whole, a great day out for people interested in any aspect of Whiskey from the manufacturing, to the history and of course the taste
Take it easy,