Friday, October 9, 2009
Bushmills Black Bush
I’ve always felt that Irish whisky never quite gets the respect it so richly deserves. What I mean is that people who go to the local liquor store in search of a whisky as a gift often reach for scotch, much like people who know little about wine automatically reach for French wine. Just as there are many great wines produced outside of France, the same can be said of great whisky being found outside of Scotland. Ireland is a case in point.
Bushmills Black Bush is one of a number of whiskies produced by the distiller, Old Bushmills Distillery, located in the village of Bushmills, in the county of Antrim, Northern Ireland. The claim to fame of this distillery is its age. It was founded in 1784 and needless to say with such a long history, they have perfected the production of fine whisky.
Irish Whisky versus Scotch
In general, the most obvious difference between Irish whisky and scotch is the lack of peat and smoke in the former. This is due to the lack of peat during the distillation process. There is an exception of course to this generalization, Connemara Peated Irish Malt has peat and smoke flavors.
Black Bush is made up primarily of single malts and the remainder with grain whiskies. The majority of single malts used in this blended whisky results in a rich dram with big rounded flavors of chocolate and malt that is memorable, but subdued at the same time.
No age is stated, but I am convinced that the whiskies making up this spirit are in the vicinity of ten years. There is a real depth of character to this whisky. While it is aged in former Oloroso sherry casks, it is not what I would characterize as a sherried whisky. A small percentage of grain whisky is blended to give it a sweet character. This is a sweet whisky but not overly so.
This is too fine to use in a mixed drink. This is deserving of being consumed neat or with a little water or ice. This tasting note was based on a neat serving.
Restrained. No over-the-top aromas wafting up. Instead, nosing this whisky will result in the enjoyment of delicate, soft notes of malt, warm fruitcake and molten chocolate.
Smooth, sweet chocolate mousse introduction followed by a nuttiness, think of cashews and brazil nuts. Next comes some spiciness, but not to the point of being peppery. The spiciness rests upon a malty background mixed with some dark fruitcake. Really intriguing. This is medium bodied.
Medium to short finish. Chocolate mousse again, oak and soft spices combine to be gentle and never offensive. No bite on the palate. Nice, but relatively short lingering warmth of spice box upon the palate rounds out this taste experience.
Rich, mildly sophisticated, but not so special that you cannot properly enjoy it in the presence of friends in a pub. Put another away, you can drink this casually and marvel at its smooth yet gentle spices, without thinking I am wasting my money by not paying more attention to it. This is not Royal Salute, Johnnie Walker Blue or Ballantines 17, all of which cannot be tossed back casually in a pub, unless you are a billionaire. The very reasonable price of Bushmills Black Bush makes it accessible.
Black Bush is not very complex. The flavors are pretty obvious: chocolate, malt, hazelnut and caramel. For this reason, I cannot descibe this whisky as overly sophisticated. The flavor profile is not as simple as the Bushmills White Label, but not too great a departure either.
In conclusion, this is a great blended whisky that every whisky/scotch drinker should try. It's easy going, not offensive and great for social occasions. I would give this as a gift to the casual whisky drinker. If I was buying a gift for the serious whisky fan, I would not choose Bushmills Black Bush because the flavors roll out in a very simplistic fashion.
© Jason Debly, 2009-2012. All rights reserved.