Monday, May 22, 2023

Review / Bushmills 25 years old & 30 years old

These two premium whiskeys will permanently sit at the top of the core range of Bushmills. The Bushmills 25 years old and 30 years old are both triple distilled single malts. The 25 years old (pictured, above left) has experienced a four year initial maturation in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks before a 21 year secondary maturation in ex-Port pipes. It is bottled at 46% ABV and is both non-chill filtered and of natural colour. The whiskey will be available worldwide and retail for US$900/ £790/ €850. 

The Bushmills 30 years old (pictured, above right) has again experienced a lengthy secondary maturation. The whiskey was initially aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks before being transferred to ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for a further 16 year period. It is also bottled at 46% ABV and is both non-chill filtered and of natural colour. It will be available worldwide at a cost of US$2,200/ £1,990/ €2,000. Both whiskies were created by Alex Thomas, the Master Blender for Bushmills. 

Bushmills holds the oldest distilling license in the world dating back to 1608. However, the official foundation date is widely recognised as 1784. It is located in the small town of Bushmills, which sits on the County Antrim coast in Northern Ireland. It is just two miles from the famous UNESCO World Heritage site at The Giant’s Causeway. 

The distillery is owned by Proximo, who took control in 2014. The annual production capacity of The Old Bushmills Distillery is around six million litres. However, the new Causeway Distillery was officially opened in April 2023. This state-of-the-art distillery, which cost an estimated €37 million, is located next to The Old Bushmills Distillery and also has an annual production of six million litres, with potential to expand further. It is designed to help Bushmills cope with increased demand for the brand and to futureproof production.

Our tasting notes

Bushmills 25 years old
The colour is deep russet amber and the nose is filled with a luscious combination of rich, dark dried fruits and toasted oak. Aromas of caramelised plum, raisin, dates and fig mingle with a warming woody spiciness and something nutty - think of oak, walnut and a pinch of cinnamon. 

On the palate this whiskey is equally as rich, fruity and spicy. The dried fruits from the nose, especially the caramelised plum and raisin, are evident but are joined by something more tropical, ripe and juicy - imagine peach and apricot with a hint of barbequed pineapple too. This adds to the rich and luxurious feel. These elements are complimented well with a warming peppery spiciness and a nutty, woody characteristic - think of white pepper, cinnamon, walnut and a background hit of gingerbread. Late notes of bitter orange oil, menthol and liquorice add further depth. The whiskey also presents a lovely dryness on the finish.

Bushmills 30 years old
The colour is deep coppery gold and the nose is rich, sweet and enticing. Aromas of treacle tart and raisins marry superbly with those of Cognac-soaked prunes and antique furniture. There is a whiff of cocoa powder and dried tropical fruit also - think of papaya and mango in particular.

On the palate this whiskey is luscious and rich. There is a lovely mix of sweet vs. savoury. Notes of fig, raisin and those Cognac-soaked prunes from the nose work superbly deep sweet notes reminiscent of black treacle or molasses. Freshly toasted almond and milk chocolate add complexity, as do notes of cedarwood and sandalwood. There is a hint of old cigar box and polished antique furniture too. Later hints of clove, menthol and liquorice root are joined by abundant warming spices, especially cinnamon and ground ginger. The finish is exquisite and lingers well beyond expectation.

What's the verdict?
These are two very good whiskeys from Bushmills. It is difficult to come up with enough superlatives for them. Each is superb and pushes the aged spirit in different directions due to their lengthy secondary maturations. The 25 years old is fruitier and spicier, while the 30 years old is more dark and brooding with an extraordinary depth of aroma and flavour. Both are contenders to be on our Best Whisky of 2023 list.

Since their release, many have commented on the prices. They are very high in comparison to the equivalent Scotch whiskies of a similar age. This is no defence of the price, but it needs to be remembered that there is relatively little Irish whiskey of 25- or 30- years old in existence. Historically if you go back that length of time then the Irish scene was very different to what it is now. Therefore, Bushmills feel as owners of some of the oldest stocks that their whiskeys are worth the high price.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is also worth to mention that these Irish are triple distilled being much more smoother than compared to Scotch double distilled. I think the price is a little steep… at least for me. Maybe some day I’ll get a sip of these beauties, and from what I heard from other whiskey experts, these were probably the best they’ve ever had.