How old is the oldest whiskey

Bushmills Whiskey - oldest whiskey in the world

Among the great distilleries in Ireland, the Old Bushmills Distillery stands out. For one thing, it is the only Northern Irish distillery. On the other hand, Bushmills is considered to be the oldest distillery in the world. In the distillery, which is located in the town of the same name, excellent whiskeys are stored in the whiskey barrels, which are recognized by connoisseurs around the world. In the middle of the town center is the Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery. When walking through the small village, one would hardly think that one of the largest distilleries in the world is at home here.

History of Bushmills Whiskey

The first Irish whiskey

As old as the whiskey, so old is the dispute between Scots and Irish about who the "water of life“Invented. The answer to this controversial question lies hidden in the thick mists of time. The story of Bushmills whiskey, on the other hand, has a very specific starting point. It is a historical fact that the Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery was the first in the world to receive a documented distilling right. In 1608 the English King James I granted the Irish knight Sir Thomas Phillips the right to "aquavite, usquabagh and aqua composita”To manufacture. This was the historical foundation for today's success story.

However, it was not until 1784 that a Hugh Anderson opened the first distillery. His success remained modest, also because high taxes on malt made his business more expensive. In 1860, Belfast-based liquorers JamesMcColgan and Patrick Corrigan bought the distillery. Their business really took off when they began exporting their whiskey to the USA at the end of the 19th century. A large group of Irish emigrants lived in the United States at that time, and were driven there by the great Irish famine. Their need for local whiskey was enormous. The distillery used its own steamship for transport: the MS Bushmills.

Drawing of the MS Bushmills on the label of the Steamship Edition (Photo: Neil Saad)

American prohibition and World War 2

The American prohibition of 1920 caused the important US market to collapse. From then on, alcohol was not allowed to be sold, manufactured or transported in the USA. Despite falling sales, the dealer Samuel Wilson acquired the Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery in 1923. He insisted on an early end to the alcohol ban in the USA and from 1933 on he received the reward for his trust. Business picked up speed with the end of Prohibition.

Production stopped during World War II. However, this was a temporary suspension. After the end of the war, Isaac Wolfson acquired the distillery and benefited from the following upswing in the USA. As a result, the Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery was one of the few distilleries in Ireland to survive the crisis years in the first half of the 20th century. Nonetheless, the Irish whiskey market was changing. Ultimately, the Northern Irish merged with the remaining Irish distilleries in 1970 to form the Irish Distillers.

Visit the Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery

Bushmills, County Antrim's distillery is open to visitors. There are daily tours through the production facilities and warehouses. On a tour of the Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery, visitors learn all about the process of making whiskey. The tour also highlights the more than 400-year history of the distillery. There is also the opportunity to take part in regular whiskey tastings.

Here you can find more information about current opening times and admission prices on the official website.

Bushmills whiskey varieties

Bushmills has a clear core range of bottlings. These include the Original, the Black Bush and the Red Bush, which is sold in the USA, to the simple entry-level whiskeys. These three blends of malt whiskey and grain whiskey are characterized by an uncomplicated taste.

The classic from the Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery is the ten-year-old single malt. This soft whiskey is one of the most popular Irish single malt whiskeys worldwide. In addition, the 16-year-old and the 21-year-old single malt belong to the upper class. The 16-year-old single malt was stored in three different barrels: sherry, bourbon and port wine. It is the better insider tip among the Irish single malts. The 21-year-old single malt also comes from three barrels. The wood of sherry, Madeira and bourbon gives the highest quality Irish whiskey from County Antrim its special taste.

In addition to the simple and higher standards, special editions of the Bushmills company have been successful in the past. At the turn of the millennium, a 25-year-old single malt, the Millennium Malt, appeared. This bottling received good reviews among connoisseurs. In addition, the Steamship Collection, a series with special barrel storage, was recently created. In particular, the variety is based on the steamboats that transported the bottlings across the Atlantic to the USA at the height of whiskey export. So far, a single malt made from sherry barrels and a single malt made from port wine barrels have been released.