Whisky Reviews

Bushmills Original

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I was recently fortunate enough to be contacted by the good people over at Bushmills, offering me a free bottle of their original expression. I figured that the least I could do in return would be to write a little review of what I consider to be Ireland’s version of Whyte & Mackay (a favourite Scottish blend of mine) – in the sense that they both produce fairly priced, good quality blends.

The way I’ve decided to go about this is a bit different to my other reviews. In a letter that came with the bottle it was suggested that I try the whiskey with “cola, lemonade and even ginger beer”, and so I shall! I thought it might make for an interesting change to first try the whiskey neat and then move on to mixers and see if it truly works, or if it is merely an attempt to sell the whiskey to a broader (Jack Daniel’s type) audience.

First up, neat; quite a few nice aromas here, and the nose feel is nice and round. I’m getting a nice sweet vanilla and toffee flavor at first, which gradually drifts into more of a fruit scent (apples) and just a hint of spice. A further, deeper sniff reveals some floral tones as well, with just a silent mouthing of spice. There’s definitely a bit of citrus in there, too. Pleasant.

On the palate, meanwhile, I was surprised to find an initial attack of floral/perfume flavors which I didn’t expect. Luckily that only lasts for a second or less, then out come the real flavors; soft sweetness (ripe apples), vanilla and a definite nuttiness. That caramel, or toffee, and vanilla from the nose is there again. The finish is, in my opinion (what else would you expect to find here anyway?), nicer than the tasting itself. At first I get a hit of chilli, spice and pepper which then mellows into a sweet vanilla and (rather shy, unfortunately) cardamom, and once these flavors subside I’m left with a refreshing mineral flavor.

Not bad so far, then. The palate itself wasn’t quite what I’d hoped unfortunately, though it had a nice feel, but the aftertaste is both nice and refreshing and the nose is most pleasant indeed. Let’s move on to the mixers. Oh and I almost forgot to mention, all the mixes below are 50/50-ish.

First up, cola; while I wasn’t fond of the first sip or two, it improved very quickly thereafter. The flavors that seep through are mainly nutty with vanilla, which goes nicely with the coke. It gives the coke a bit more of a mature sweetness, if you will.

Second, lemonade; interestingly, the flavors that come through here are completely different.  Which is a good thing seeing as nuts and vanilla wouldn’t, or so I believe, go too well with lemonade. What happens instead is that it actually seems to intensify the flavor of the lemonade, giving it a zestier flavor and more of sting. Very nice, refreshing. The nose is quite like that Scandinavian tobacco that you put under your lip, Snus I think they call it.

And lastly, ginger beer; with this mixer the chilli really comes out to play along with the pepper, which goes nicely with the pine flavors of the ginger beer. Nice and spicy, I would definitely recommend it – and I’m not normally a big fan of ginger beer.

My overall favorite would be the ginger beer, though I’d still prefer it neat 7 times out of 10. Now, let’s round this monster off.

Color: dark golden caramel.

Nose: round, vanilla, toffee then fruit, apples, spice, citrus, slightly hidden floral.

Palate:  short burst of perfume/floral then sweet, ripe apples, vanilla, nuttiness, caramel, toffee, vanilla. Lovely finish of chilli, spice and pepper then vanilla and hint of cardamom and finally refreshing minerals.

Want to buy this whisky? Available in: USA & World (click)UK & Europe (click)

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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