OLD BUSHMILLS DISTILLERY TOUR
Bushmills Puts the “E” in Whiskey
There are three major differences between Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky. The Irish blend, is spelled with an added –e- and the brethren elixir from the peat bogs of Scotland is –e- free. Okay, a minor difference. Perhaps the more important to connoisseurs is the taste and how it comes to be. Irish whiskeys don’t smoke the malt, so lack the peaty flavor that identifies the other, and Irish Whiskey goes through three distillations for extra smoothness. Aside from that the process of making whiskey is pretty much the same. And should you want to view it in progress, take a trip to the Northern Ireland coast, just a few miles from where a gaelic giant once built his causeway bridge to Scotland.
The Old Bushmills Distillery is the oldest licensed whiskey maker in the world. Whiskey or “Uisce Beatha” in Gaelic (The Water of Life) has been made in Ireland since at least the 13th Century, recorded when the first Plantagenet King Henry II come to Ireland (see Malahide Castle). In 1608, Sir Thomas Phillips was granted a charter to distill whiskey by King James I of England. In 1784, the Bushmills Distillery began international trade as a registered company. The distillery factory was destroyed by raging fire in 1885 and rebuilt to its current configuration. With Irish emigration to America in the 1700’s, the reputation of Bushmills light golden liquor spread to the west, growing in popularity in bars across the states, until prohibition in the 1920s slowed the flow. During the postwar years, Bushmills has dueled in competition with Ireland’s other famous brand Jameson, based in Dublin (see Jameson Tour Dublin) and Cork.
Unlike Jameson’s in Dublin, the Old Bushmill’s Distillery in country Antrim is a working facility where the guided tour takes groups through the five stages of whiskey production as it's been practiced for 400 years - malting, fermentation, distillation, vatting and bottling. The pure water for Bushmill’s Whiskey comes from an aquifer known as St Colomb’s Rill for the famed cleric of North Ireland (see St Colomb’s Cathedral). The tours last about an hour with a complimentary glass of a choice of Bushmills product in the tasting room at the end. It is also possible to just do the tasting without the tour.
Visiting the Old Bushmills Distillery
Old Bushmills Distillery is open throughout the year, seven
days a week, but
with varying hours depending on the day and time of year. Tours during
the working weekdays Monday to Thursday allow viewing the
most action in progress. Tour prices are £5 for adults, children £2.50,
and a family ticket for £13. Children under 8 are not allowed
on the tour. (They can just hang around the distillery and get a head
on the elbow bending in the 1608 Bar). An exclusive Bushmills 12 Year
Old Reserve Single Malt whiskey only available to visitors can be purchased
in the gift shop with a personalized label for friends or family. Snacks
and lunch can be had in the Distillery Restaurant
A visit to the distillery in the village of Bushmills can be combined with the Giants Causeway, just 2 miles away (see Giant's Causway). A shuttle bus runs from the Old Bushmills Distillery parking lot to the Causeway visitors center in summer months. And the dramatic Dunluce Castle is a mile and half to the west (see Dunluce Castle). © Bargain Travel Europe
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