The  Old Bushmills Distillery  is a distillery in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. As of December 2014, it was in the process of moving from ownership of Diageo plc to Jose Cuervo. All whiskey bottled under the Bushmills whiskey brand is produced in Bushmills Distillery and uses water drawn from Saint Columb’s Rill, which is a tributary of the River Bush. The distillery is a popular tourist attraction, with around 120,000 visitors per year.

The company that originally built the distillery was founded in 1784, but the date of 1608 is printed on the label of the brand -. Referring to an earlier time when a royal license was granted to a local landowner to distill whiskey in the area  [1] [2]  for different periods of closure in its recent history, the distillery has been in continuous operation since it was built after a fire in 1885. 


The area has a long tradition of distillation. According to one story, as far back as 1276, called an early settler Sir Robert Savage of Ards, before defeating the Irish in battle, strengthened their troops with “a mighty drop acqua vitae”.  [3]  In 1608, a license was granted Sir Thomas Phillipps by king James in distilling whiskey.  [4]

for the next seven years, in countie of Colrane, otherwise known as O Cahanes countrey, or within territorie called Rowte in Antrim by himselfe or his servauntes, to do, ho, and distill these and SOE large amounts aqua penalty, usquabagh and aqua composita, that he or his assignes shall thinke fitt; and the same to sell, vent and dispose of all people, yerelie yeeldinge Somme 13s 4d …

Bushmills Old Distillery Company itself was not established until 1784 by Hugh Anderson.  [1]  Bushmills suffered many lean years with many periods of closure with no information about the distillery in operation in official records in both 1802 and 1822. In 1860, Belfast spirit merchant Jame McColgan and Patrick Corrigan bought the distillery; In 1880 they formed a limited liability company. In 1885, the original Bushmills buildings were destroyed in a fire, but the distillery quickly rebuilt. In 1890, a steamer owned and operated by the distillery, the SS  Bushmills  , made its maiden voyage across the Atlantic to deliver Bushmills whiskey to America. It is called the Philadelphia and New York before heading to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Yokohama.

In the early 20th century, the US was a very important market for Bushmills (and other Irish whiskey producers). American Prohibition in 1920 came as a huge blow to Irish Whiskey industry, but Bushmills managed to survive.Wilson Boyd, Bushmills’ manager at the time, predicted the end of the ban and had large stores of whiskey ready to export. After World War II the distillery was bought by Isaac Wolfson, and in 1972 it was taken over by Irish Distillers, which means that Irish Distillers controlled the production of all Irish whiskey at the time. In June 1988, Irish Distillers was acquired by French spirits group Pernod Ricard.

In June 2005, the distillery was bought by Diageo for £ 200 million. Diageo has also announced a major advertising campaign to regain market share for Bushmills.

In May 2008, Bank of Ireland issued a new series of sterling banknotes in Northern Ireland, all of which have an illustration of the Old Bushmills Distillery on the front page, replacing the previous notes series which depicted Queen’s University in Belfast.  [5] [6] 

In November 2014 it was announced that Diageo was trading Bushmills brand Jose Cuervo in exchange for 50% of Don Julio tequila brand Diageo does not already own. The transaction is expected to be completed in early 2015.  [7]

Current whiskey range

  • Bushmills Original – Irish whiskey blend is sometimes called the Black Bush, Bushmills White Label. Grain whiskey is stored in American oak barrels.
  • Black Bush – has a significantly higher proportion of malt to grain whiskey than the white label. Spanish Oloroso sherry seasoned oak casks mature malt.
  • Bushmills 10 years single malt – Matured in American bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks for at least 10 years.
  • Bushmills 12 years single malt – A special edition is currently sold only at Bushmills Distillery, mostly matured in sherry casks.
  • Bushmills 16 years single malt – Matured for 16 years or more in a combination of American bourbon, Spanish Oloroso sherry butts and Port tubes.
  • Bushmills 21 years single malt – A limited number of 21 years bottles are made each year, and stored on three different types of barrels: first in American bourbon barrels and then in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks.Together it will be 19 years in these containers, after which it can be in Madeira barrels for another two years until bottling.
  • Bushmills 1608: A special 400th anniversary whiskey. From February 2008 there Bushmills outlets around the world; But from 2009 it will be available only in Whiskey Shop distillery and duty free shops.  [8]
  • Bushmills Sherry Cask Single Malt -. A special edition, the first in the “Steamship Collection”, available only in Belfast, Dublin and London Heathrow Airport  [9]  Matured in Oloroso sherry casks.


Some Bushmills has performed well at international Spirit ratings competitions. In particular, the Black Bush Finest blended whiskey received double gold medals at the 2007 and 2010 San Francisco World Spirits competition.  [10] There was also a well-above-average 93 points from the Beverage Testing Institute in 2008 and 2011.  [10]

In popular culture

  • The band NOFX mentions Bushmills in the song “Theme from a NOFX Album” of 2000 release  Pump Up The Valuum
  • Tom Waits mentions “Old Bushmills” in the song “Tom Traubert Blues” (also covered by Rod Stewart)
  • In the third season episode of  The Wire  , the Back Burner, Jimmy McNulty refers to Bushmills “Protestant whiskey” when he offered after that Jameson is available
  • Burt Reynolds plays a police lieutenant in the 1975 film  Hustle  whose favorite alcohol Bushmills
  • In 1982, the film  ‘s Cathedral  , the Paul Newman character Frank Gavin orders Bushmills and water at his neighborhood pub
  • In the Rescue Me series seasons 1-7, the Bushmills whiskey shared the common and favorite of the entire Irish Gavin family and referred to in at least ten episodes

See also

  • Irish whiskey
  • List of Irish whiskey brands
  • Whiskey
  • Barrel
  • Distillation
  • List of oldest companies
  • master mixer
  • Diageo



  1. ^ Jump up to: a b Old Bushmills History (official website)
  2. Jump up ^ Alternative Whisky Academy
  3. Jump up ^ Ray Foley (1 January 2006). The best Irish drinks. Source, Inc., p. 2. ISBN 978-1-4022-0678-8. Hämtasoch 31 October of 2010.
  4. Jump up ^ George Hill (1877). A history of the plantation in Ulster in the early seventeenth century, from 1608 to 1620. M’Caw, Stevenson & Orr. p. 393rd Retrieved 31 October of 2010.
  5. Jump up ^  “Bank of Ireland to present the Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland a new issue of banknotes”. Bank of Ireland. 02.11.2008.Hämtas2016 / 03 / 07th
  6. Jump up ^  “Bank raises glass to the famous drink”. BBC News. .Hämtas 04/23/2008 10/30/2008.
  7. Jump up ^ Taylor, Charlie (11.03.2014). “Jose Cuervo to acquire Bushmills from Diageo”. The Irish Times. Pulled 03/11/2014.
  8. Jump up ^ Bushmills kick-starting 400th anniversary campaign
  9. Jump up ^ [1]
  10. ^ Jump up to: a b Product review of Bushmills Black Bush Irish Finest blended whiskey