Nose: Honey, buttered fruit toast, sultanas, and canned pears. Typically crisp and light on the nose for an Irish whiskey.
Palate: Rich, fruity, sweet, and spicy. Plenty of boysenberry on the palate, along with sweet malt and honey notes; there’s also some canned fruit salad, some mixed-berry jam, and some Christmas-spiced gingerbread. There’s also a hint of something dry and slightly bitter – cacao maybe. Strangely acidic on the first pop of the cork, but that completely disappears with a bit of a breather.
Mouthfeel: There’s a decent weight to this whiskey – especially for one that is triple distilled. Slightly oily, yet also almost chewy. No burn at all.
Finish: The finish is mid-length. It’s definitely there, and hangs around for a bit, but not for long. The tang from the boysenberries hangs around, although not their sweetness or flavour. There’s also some canned pear and gingerbread hanging around as well. The coating of the tongue and mouth continues long after the flavour departs.
As the name rather plainly states, this is a 16 year old single malt Irish whiskey. Bottled at 40%, the whiskey has spent 16 years maturing in either ex-Bourbon barrels or Oloroso Sherry casks before being married for several months in Port casks. Like most Bushmills whiskeys, the 16 year is triple distilled. Bushmills has previously noted that they do use colouring to achieve consistency from batch to batch.
This whiskey is really well balanced. The flavour profiles start on the nose before building further on the palate without losing any notes until subsiding with the finish. Nice and thick as well as slightly oily from the first sip right through to well after the flavour disappears in the finish. Swirling this whiskey around the glass shows an amazing amount of ‘legs’, with the whiskey clinging to the side of the glass for an eternity.
According to Bushmills lore, there has been a distillery making whiskey on the site since King James I granted a license to distill to Sir Thomas Phillips – landowner and Governor of Co. Antrim, Ireland on 20th April 1608. The current distillery (or at least the company) goes back to 1784, when the Old Bushmills Distillery company is incorporated, and the Pot Still logo was trademarked. The distillery has been in operation ever since (although records are sparse to non-existent for great chunks of its life thanks to fire and war) except during the late 1880’s when a fire burnt the place down, and during world war 2 when the distillery grounds were used as accommodation by allied servicemen. In 1890, Bushmills had their own steamship, the SS Bushmills, for deliveries to America, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Japan. The distillery has also been on the Pound Sterling banknotes of Northern Ireland since 2008, replacing an image of the Queen’s University of Belfast.