Happy St. Patrick’s Day folks! Today I am bringing you what is probably my favorite Irish whiskey, and what better day to do that than today?! I always enjoyed my whiskey and coke when I was younger and thought Jameson was a decent product; however it was Bushmills Black Bush that opened up my eyes to a new world of whiskey. Old Bushmills Distillery is located by Belfast, Ireland and is often overshadowed by its cousin from the south, Jameson. Now the reason for this being more than likely due to the years of conflict and civil war between Ireland and Northern Ireland; and Jameson distillers declaring it a “Protestant whiskey”.  Bushmills is a victim of location, because it being a protestant whiskey, in my opinion, couldn’t be further from the truth. Bushmills is actually widely considered to have the oldest operating distillery in the world. Its operating license was granted by King James I back in 1608 (hence the date on the front label of every bottle).

Black Bush is the second most available (and thus 2nd most affordable) bottling from Bushmills after their flagship White Label. Although legally considered a blended whiskey, it is actually comprised of 80% single malt and is triple distilled. After distillation, the vats are divided up with 50% of the product is put in American ex-bourbon white oak casks, and the other 50% is placed in used Spanish Oloroso Sherry Casks. Both are aged 7-10 years before being blended together for bottling. This has earned Black Bush two Double Gold medals in 2008 and 2011 at SFWSC, and an average rating of 93/100 from the Beverage Tasting Institute. Not bad for an Irish whiskey that averages $30-$35 a bottle.

COLOR: Deep Amber, mostly due to the sherry casks; but undoubtedly has some caramel coloring.

NOSE: Light, but still deep at the same time. I guess by that I mean I don’t really get any sharp alcohol, but has a certain richness to it. Lots of dark fruit: plums, dates and raisins. A little bit of nutmeg and cinnamon spice with some warm sugary sweetness.

BODY: Velvety, buttery smoothness.

PALATE: Malty sweetness with chocolate covered fruits (again the raisins, and dates) and mouthwatering butterscotch.

FINISH: A kind of Frangelico nuttiness, but without the obnoxious sweetness and loads of holiday and oaky spice. A great finish!

Again it’s easy to understand why I love this whiskey, it hits on all of the notes that I adore. If you think you enjoy Jameson, you should really being giving this a try. It has a wonderful complex richness and just enough spice to give it a good balance. And as blasphemous as it would be, it actually mixes really well with root beer! Definitely make sure you give this one the chance it deserves and let that self-righteous bottle of Jameson sit in the backseat for a while!


*photo is not my own