Tag Archives: Bushmills

Bushmills Red Bush Review

Distiller: Bushmills. ABV: 40%. No age statement/3+ years. Price: $18-22.

In my snobby younger days, I would routinely turn my nose up at the standard Irish blends. The Jameson and Powers never did it for me, and the only one I could routinely endure was Bushmills.

Now, of course, the last few years have seen massive growth in the complexity and quality of the Irish whiskies available in the U.S. I’d put Teeling and the Spots (Green and Yellow) up against the best in  the world. Bushmills’ higher-end offerings, like the 16-year-old single malt, are delectable.

So when I saw the new Bushmills Red Bush at my favorite convenience store, I was intrigued to see how the lower-end offerings of this venerable producer had changed with the times.

The verdict is…not much. It’s a bit mysterious what’s new about the Red Bush, as it’s prominently marketed as “matured in bourbon casks”–but so is the standard Bushmills White Label. (The Black Bush adds some sherry maturation.) The few existing reviews of the Red Bush I’ve read, along with Bushmills’ own patter, repeat the dreaded moniker “smooth,” which for me is usually shorthand for forgettable.

The Red Bush isn’t quite that bland. There’s a whisper of flora on the nose, and you’ll find some honey and vanilla if you try hard enough. The palate, as you’d expect from a blend aged entirely in ex-bourbon casks, has elements of the oaky BBQ, along with traces of vanilla, but the flavors are so faint that it’s difficult to discern much of anything. And the finish doesn’t deserve the name. By the time you’ve finished the first sip, you’ve already forgotten what you were drinking.

I’m tempted to say that for around $20, you could do worse, but there are so many better options at or just above this price point in the Irish whiskey world (think West Cork), the bourbon world (think Old Granddad,) and the single malt world (think Glen Moray) that there’s no reason to try this fairly mediocre blend.

Here’s to demanding more from those we love. Cheers, friends! – TM

Bushmills 16 Single Malt Review

Distiller: Bushmills. ABV: 40%. Age: 16 years. Price: $65-80.

Until the Mitchell & Sons Green Spot rocked my world, there wasn’t an Irish whiskey anywhere I preferred to the Bushmills 16. And the 16 is still one I can’t get enough of.

Single malt? Check. Bourbon and sherry maturation? Check. Extra port finish at the end? Check.

Deep ruby in the glass. Nose of absolutely classic sherry and port notes mingled: stewed figs, raisins, prunes. Warm and fuzzy, with a golden malt core. Dark chocolate. Glazed ham! The palate has all this and more. Full-bodied as a Carnaval dancer. White pepper. You can taste the cinnamon in that ham glaze now. Turns to clove on the finish, with a little fragrant smokiness that almost suggests a light peat.

Pure Irish whiskey delight. It’ll run you about $65-80, and it’s worth every penny. Just thinking about this one brings a smile to my face. Sipping on it is even better.

Cheers, friends! -BO