March has arrived and with it comes the best time of the year to talk about and drink some Uisce Beatha (otherwise known as Irish Whiskey). Unless you’ve been living on a remote Pacific island for the last few years you’ll have noticed a massive resurgence of the Irish whiskey industry, with new brands popping up here, there, and everywhere. Just recently we moved our Irish whiskey section in the store to make room for all of the new bottles arriving. Pernod Ricard, owners of the Midleton Distillery in my hometown of Cork, have firmly positioned Jameson as the leader of the pack, with Redbreast and Green Spot following on its heels, while over in County Westmeath, Beam Suntory’s Kilbeggan Distillery has been introducing us to many old and new styles of whiskies.
However, Ireland has another major distillery, one that doesn’t claim the limelight with new expressions and madcap marketing tricks. Up on the northern coast of County Antrim, the Bushmill’s Distillery has been doing what it does best for the last couple of hundred years. There they have been quietly distilling, patiently aging, and meticulously crafting some of the best whiskies in all of Ireland. They have been doing this without any fanfare, which is why sometimes their malts tend to get overlooked. But no longer shall Bushmills hide in the shadows: this is the month when we turn the spotlight onto this beautiful range of whiskies. And I say now, if you think you know Irish whiskey but haven’t spent the time to discover the malts and blends from Bushmills, then you are doing yourself a serious disservice.
Keeping that thought in mind, we now turn to my Malt of the Month. Bushmills 10 Year Old Single Malt is without question one of Ireland’s finest exports (apart from me, of course!) and is a whiskey I happily drank in the past and continue to drink to this day. And the reason for that is down to its sheer drinkability. It’s a deliciously rich yet soft ball of malt that rolls around on your tongue with the greatest of ease. The whiskey is separately aged in two distinct woods, former bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry casks, then is brought together for a final period to mingle the flavors before bottling. I believe there is a greater concentration of good sherry casks which tend to give the whiskey its raisin and sultana notes. When combined with the sweet vanilla and honeyed notes from the bourbon, you end up tasting something truly magical.
Here is where the luck of the Irish comes in handy. Bushmills 10yr normally sells for $44.99 a bottle, however yours truly was able to finagle a deal that brings the price down to just $33.99, which takes us back to 2006 prices. And that, my friends, is why my Irish eyes are smiling and yours will be too!