First up, some information. Bushmills is widely accepted as being the oldest licensed distillery in the known universe. Sir Thomas Phillipps was granted license to distill in 1608 by King James I, albeit records show production to start around the 1784 era. The distillery went through many owners, and the original buildings were destroyed by fire in 1885 and rebuilt 5 years later. In 1988 French giant Pernod Ricard took control of the distillery and continued production, until the 2005 Diageo buyout. All that having been said, lets see what the northernmost Irish distillery has to offer in the line of single malts.
Well it has been a while since I've posted some tasting notes, so I'm gonna spill the beans on some random items found at the LCBO through this month or so and get some more information out there for you, the buyer. This time around, a sweet and luxurious Irish single malt from the Diageo Irish repertoire.
Limited Edition 1608 and The Millennium (25 year old). Having tasted the 10 (a double wood finish of Oloroso sherry and American bourbon casks), when the chance to sample the 16 arose I took my chances and grabbed a bottle. I do enjoy the single malt Bushmills range as its such a light and delicate whiskey, it's very reminiscent of the Scottish Lowlands flavor profile. I find a lot of gentle notes with a seemingly simple whisky that turns out to be deeper than initially expected. The 16 is the oldest yet to arrive at the LCBO (since the Millennium which is out of stock), and comes in at a steep pricing of $80/bottle and only 40% ABV. Finished in three woods (the aforementioned American bourbon oak and Spanish Oloroso Sherry), this dram is highlighted and steered by the Port pipes used to finish it.
Colour: Amber with hints of ruby and copper highlights. ( i highly doubt there to be no colour added here, but the port does seem to show some ruby highlights through the electric marmalade background).
Body: Medium body, fat drops appear when the glass is rolled. Legs run slowly back in. Things are looking up in the flavor direction.
Nose: Ohh boy! This is a big one, sweet tawny port, hints of plums and red & purple fruits (grapes, berries and the like), candied almonds and hints of Amaretto, heavy oak (like saturated oak [ie: oak that has held a lot of wine/spirit in the past), vanilla and fudge, apricots. The notes of interest I found here were slight hints of tobacco, worked leather and every now and again a slight note of tomato paste or fresh garden tomatoes.
Palate: This is a very more-ish whiskey. Almonds and sweet barley seem to be the first notes in my mouth right away. Barley sugar and dry oak, hints at old wood or wood smoke, dried peaches and apricots. Hints of raisins, cola, cocoa powder and coffee. Way off in the background I get a slight hint of sulphur (like in pink erasers).
Finish: The finish is medium-long and seems to mirror the heavy nose. Hints of old wood and herbal vanilla seem to be present here, rubber hoses and dark chocolate. Oily mouth coverage fades and drying notes make your mouth water for more.
Empty Glass: The empty glass almost seems to mirror the initial nose. Honey and floral notes dominate, with hints of ruby port and wood smoke again. Slight notes of sandalwood (as in cologne), herbs and ancient dry oak (like in an old trunk or cabinet). There is a peppering of dry cocoa powder throughout the empty glass.
Well what we have here is a fantastic representation of what Irish whiskey can be with some careful management. I will fault the mega-conglomerate of Diageo for my 2 usual marks: chill-filtration and colour added. But as I'm feeling generous (yeah, like I'm really in a position to criticize the world's largest distiller on their practices), I'll let the 40% ABV slide this time. All my whining aside, this is a deep and rich spirit. Incredible depth and flavor can be found within this bottle. I'm very partial to the 10 year old single malt, and I think that bias shows in the 16. There is a lot to be had for $80, but a lot more could be had with higher proof and non-chillfilteration of the final spirit. Final recommendation is to find and try this bottle, go to a pub or bar, or a friends house and sample it. Or should you feel like putting $80 down on a great bottle of whiskey, check your local LCBO for Sku #260760. Either way I don't think you'll be disappointed. Until the next time; Keep your stick on the ice and the ice out of your glass.