Irish you were here
Posted 19 March 2018 / In Bushmills
Bushmills 21 year old
I read online that more than 13 million glasses of Guinness are consumed on St Patrick’s Day - a staggering 4.29 million litres – easily enough for one glass for every single person living in Belgium, or indeed two Olympic-sized swimming pools. Whilst the black stuff remains the drink of choice for most revellers, the resurgence of the Irish whiskey industry means that it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that a fair number of Irish whiskies were consumed over the weekend. Never one to feel left out, I had a group of friends over for a ‘bring your own’ blind tasting of all things Irish whiskey. In amongst the single pot stills, blends and malts was this little gem – Bushmills 21 year old.
The 21 year old is at the top of the Bushmills standard range. It’s a single malt that has been triple distilled and then matured in three different casks - whiskies are drawn from ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso sherry casks and are then married together in ex-madeira casks for two years of finishing. Like all of the Bushmills core range, it’s bottled at 40% ABV. The price of this one varies greatly depending on where you are in the world – likewise, it has been steadily increasing over the last few years. Currently, you’ll need to find a cool £168.66 to purchase this from Master of Malt here in the UK. Yikes.
Nose: Immediate pronounced fruitiness – overripe mangos, guavas, bananas and oranges with underripe apples, pears and apricots. These are supported by nuances from creamy vanilla custard, and some lovely herbal and grassiness – mint leaves and nettles. There’s just a touch of minerality here – wet steel and copper coins. Very inviting indeed.
Taste: The fruitiness continues with the aforementioned jumble of tropical and orchard fruits, but is now joined by a scattering of berries – both red and black (offering some light sherry nuttiness – almonds in particular - and fresh golden tobacco). Sweetness from toffee and heathery honey merges well with malty undertones and delicate spicing – cinnamon, ginger and just a tiny pinch of salt. Steeliness is still present, as are both mint and nettles – indeed, the ‘leafiness’ feels even greater than on the nose.
Finish: Long in length and delivering both sweet and bitter notes (in a very balanced manner) - sugary stone fruits and berries – bitter steeped tea, oak and nuts.
Bushmills 21 year old is first-rate whiskey that conveys all the traditional Irish fruitiness you’d expect. But, it also offers interesting deeper aromas and flavours that derive from its two-year sherry finish – pronounced richness, juxtaposing of sweetness with bitterness and captivating herbal/grassy touches. I often find that 40% ABV bottlings don’t deliver as much flavour and texture as I’d personally like, but this one proves to be an exception – fruitiness and creaminess are abound. Yes, I like this a lot. It’s therefore a bit of a shame that the price point is moving skywards so steadily. I purchased it for around £90 a couple of years ago – were it still at that price I’d be heartily recommending you all endeavour to buy a bottle. Now you’re looking at close to double – and that becomes much harder to commend.
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