Bushmills 25- and 30-Year Are Its Oldest Single Malt Irish Whiskeys to Date

Bushmills is often referred to as a sleeping giant. It seems like an odd nickname for a distillery that’s already the second biggest whiskey producer in all of Ireland. Indeed, the historic facility has been a workhorse for decades, cranking out a steady supply (5 million liters worth of triple-distilled spirit per year, to be exact). Compared to its competitors, however, there’s been minimal expansion among its core lineup—until now, that is. The distillery just announced the release of two new permanent expressions: Bushmills 25-Year-Old and 30-Year-Old single malt Irish whiskeys.

The spirits were crafted in honor of the opening of Bushmills' $46 million dollar Causeway Distillery, which increases the overall capacity of the site by 120 percent.

These single malts are quite special. Previously, a 21-year-old label enjoyed status as the elder statesman in the portfolio. And make no mistake: These newcomers are defined by more than mere seniority. They’re not just old, they’re sensational. That didn’t happen by accident.

“We haven’t been sleeping, we’ve been patiently waiting to ensure that we have enough of this whiskey to make it part of our core collection,” explains Bushmills master blender Alex Thomas. “There are very few—if any—other distilleries in Ireland or Scotland that can claim the amount of wonderful aged whiskies that Bushmills have. We have over 460,000 casks—over 65 million liters of alcohol in our warehouses.”

That stock ages in all manner of cooperage, everything from Marsala barrels to rum casks. Thomas has taken full advantage of the myriad flavors at her disposal to blend together entirely unique whiskies.

Bushmills 25-Year-Old Single Malt

The 25-Year-Old began its first five years of life in a combination of both bourbon and sherry casks. Those liquids were brought together in oak which previously held ruby port, then left to mingle therein for two decades. It noses with a bouquet of over-ripened berry fruit. In the palate, a nuttiness emerges in advance of cocoa nibs, which dominate the finish.

The 92-proof non-chill filtered bottling will set you back $900. When you consider what single malt Scotches of comparable age and complexity cost these days, this can actually be read as a value. But if “bargains” aren’t your thing, you’ll be heartened by its older sibling.

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Bushmills 30-Year-Old Single Malt

The new 30-Year-Old single malt is now selling on American shelves for $2,200. That easily places it in the upper echelon of pricey Irish whiskies.

Thankfully, Thomas has made sure the juice is worth the squeeze on your wallet. Instead of merely five years in ex-bourbon barrels and sherry butts, the starting point here was 14 years in that exact cooperage, prior to a 16-year finish in first-fill PX. The result? It tosses and turns with toffee in the pour. On the tongue it’s an unmistakable ode to marmalade. It’s also eminently inviting at 46 percent ABV and opens up quite well when sitting neat in the glass. No need to add more than a drop or two of water here.

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Which one is better? Well that depends on what you’re after. If it’s berry fruit and spice, it’s the 25-Year. If it’s a confectioners delight, spring for the 30-Year. Either way, if you’re craving innovative Irish whiskey these days, you know exactly where to look.

“We used to have six to seven different types of casks,” according to master distiller Colum Egan. “Now we have 75 and you’ve only seen about 10 of them. There’s loads of stuff coming up.”

To wit, Egan commemorated the opening of Causeway Distillery with the reveal of a 24-year-old single malt vatted from whiskies matured in both rum and Pedro Ximénez barrels. He says it was inspired by his love of rum raisin ice cream. Although this one was available exclusively to guests at the opening gala, don’t be surprised when funky one-offs such as these become more widely available in the near future.

“We have an abundance of stock and we’re now ready to deliver it for people to enjoy every day,” adds Thomas.

In other words: Bushmills is a giant, so sleep on it at your own peril.