Bushmills 10 Year Old Single Malt

I have had a remarkably productive weekend, for me.  Yesterday I worked my second job for 8 hours, which means that I read a Nabokov book. After that I went out and replaced my phone, which had been broken for several months, and had a nice dinner with family.  Then I came home and enjoyed some fine beverages and Netflix programming while setting up said phone.  Today I woke up at the crack of 11, went out for breakfast with the family, and cleaned my bedroom top to bottom.  I then drank some beer, made some banana bread, took a hot bath and beat the Indianapolis Colts 45 to 7.  Wait, was that not me?  Well without that it looks like I just kicked back, ate too much and took care of a few things.  Well bollocks, I’ve earned a reward for all that anyways.  My reward tonight?  See title.

Let’s flash back some four or so years—a young man is turning 21.  Said young man may, and this is not an admission of guilt (you can prove nothing,) have been known to have a premature fondness for the brown spirits.  At that time, this young nameless man was in the practice of keeping on hand a bottle of bourbon, a bottle of Irish and a bottle of cognac about, finance permitting.  So, come this young man’s 21st birthday, a generous benefactor / my father’s girlfriend, gave said young man a bottle of the title spirit—Bushmills 10 year Single Malt.  It was wondrous, eye opening even, for a fella who was used to your standard Irish blends.  That bottle was a revered treat, saved only to start a special night—one that more than likely involved listening to Bob Dylan and contributing nothing to society.  I…ehhhmmm…our anonymous subject, received a different kind of education alongside his college studies.  For some reason (read: college debt) this young man never bought another bottle of that sweet nectar, and yet has continued (I’m an omnipotent 3rd person narrator) to remember it fondly.

Well, that young man still has not bought another bottle of that sweet stuff—but my dad has.  And for the sake of that young man, so innocent and lost, let me steal a dram off my old man, and pour it out in his honor.  Right down my gullet.  Without further dudes, let me imbibe of this wee borrowed dram, and catch a couple notes.

New camera is gunna step up my photogue game

New camera is gunna step up my photogue game

From the nose I find some lovely light orange oil notes, with a very complementary dose of clove and some floating vanilla notes, to really tie the room together.  Once you sip of that golden sunshine, oh lawdy lawd—soft honey washes into miles of smooth vanilla floating on streams of chocolate milk which leave, yet linger and somehow leaves you feeling as though your palette is cleansed.  It’s lovely, almost…poetic…

In County Antrim did Sir Thomas Phillipps
a stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Bush, the sacred river, ran
Through stills measureless to man,
Down to sweet whiskey.

Just one dram, and you too can rip off Samuel Taylor Coleridge! Anyways, this is truly a beautifully subtle whiskey, and a perfect introduction into the world of Irish Single Malts—one that you will be likely to remember fondly, as did our young protagonist for he on honey-dew hath fed, and drunk the milk of Paradise.

 

Review: Bushmills Irish Whiskey

The poor people of Ireland have seen more than their fair share of conflict over the course of history.  Under the English Crown the Irish suffered hundreds of years of brutality as the Brits sought not only to rule the Irish but to exploit them and ultimately to crush their cultural identity.  The Irish rebelled against their condition quite often—even following the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 granted the Irish a semblance of political independence.  I don’t have the time or knowledge to fully expound on the centuries of conflict in Ireland, because I write a post about drinking.  So how does Irish history relate to drinking? First off, you should know not to order an Irish Car Bomb in Ireland.  That would be like ordering an Afghani IED in an Army canteen.  It’s recent history, and the tensions still exist.  Second off, don’t order a black and tan.  The black and tans were the British military force place in Ireland in the early 20th century to establish order.  They did this in much the way the brown-shirts did in 1930’s Germany.  The third thing is what we’re here for today: know your Irish whiskey (it’s spelled with an “e” there too!).

The word whiskey comes from the Gaelic word uisce beatha, meaning “water of life.”  You’ve probably already heard that.  Irish Gaelic was the language of the historic language of Ireland and is still spoken by some on the island today (though rarely a first language today as a result of the centuries of English), so whiskey is their word.  To be fair the Scottish also spoke Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, so it’s their word too.  I’m rambling.  So how does Irish whiskey relate to Irish politics? Well the basic thing is there are 3 big names in Irish whiskey: Jameson’s, Bushmills, and Tullamore Dew.  Jameson’s is made in Dublin, and Tullamore Dew in Tullamore.  These are in the Republic of Ireland.  Bushmills is made in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.  That’s the UK–protestant country.  In Ireland, that still matters.  Violence still erupts in Northern Ireland, and though the IRA is officially dissolved, the factionalism has not.  Whiskey has often been used as a metaphor to examine this factionalism, representing Bushmills as the “orange” protestant whiskey and Jameson as a good Dublin true Irish whiskey.  John Jameson was a Scottish immigrant, and a lot of people have pointed that out, which makes Jameson’s not much of a true Irish Catholic whiskey.  So we’ll call that the “white,” neutral, whiskey.  If you hadn’t gathered I’m using the colors of the Irish flag here, which leaves me with our green, the Tullamore Dew.  It’s a neat little metaphor, but I say fuck it.  Instead of using whiskey to represent the divisions of Ireland I think we should use it to unite people, because that just makes more sense.

Ireland has a very broad definition of what legally makes an Irish whiskey, and while there are only 8 distilleries in Ireland, and several aren’t even selling their product yet, that broad definition allows for a wide variety of flavors for people to enjoy.  Let’s not divide our whiskies by religion and region, but by the joy they bring and their flavors.  Unfortunately I only have Bushmills on hand, and only a tiny bit left after wasting the rest as fuel for all the babble I’ve already written, so you won’t get the comparisons I wish I could do.  I’ll get to writing about more of them at some point.  For now, I’m gunna tell you why a good Irish Catholic might want to drink Bushmills.

Irish whiskey is lighter by nature, in flavour and in colour.  Therefore Irish whiskey really needs to be enjoyed for its character and its subtleties. A lot of people like Jameson’s because it’s smooth as hell and so sweet and gentle.  A lot of people like that.  In fact Jameson’s has become a massive brand because its gentle way of getting you hammered is loved by lushes the world over.  But if perhaps you’re looking for something a little more complex, with more grain character, Bushmills is a perhaps the budget Irish for you.  This whiskey starts with a light nose full of lemon zest aromas, which aren’t as forward when you take that first sip.  The predominating flavors are those of the gently sweet malts, and the light vanilla and fresh sawdust flavors from the barrel that fade of the back of the tongue.  I’ve heard this described as rough.  That’s insanity.  The word I think of is robust.  While it is dry and oily, with a bit of a late heat that Jameson doesn’t give you, that’s what sets Bushmills apart.  Does that sound like something you’d enjoy? Then who gives a shit if you’re Irish Catholic, or really a 4th generation Irish-American who dropped out of CDD and want to act like you’re really Irish—drink what tastes good to you, even if it is “protestant whiskey.”  So maybe whiskey, and the love thereof, can bridge the gap between Northern Irish and Irish Republican, Bushmills drinker and all other whiskey drinkers. You may say I’m a dreamer, but after a few whiskies everyone seems more tolerable to me, and perhaps that’s a peace plan.

Image

PS: I’m going to Arizona for a week starting tomorrow, so I won’t be posting, but perhaps I’ll drink something to post about later!