Last year I spent just under a week in LA whilst journeying through the United States. The city of angels, the city of dreams and the city, it seems, of certified success. I remember stopping at traffic lights one evening on Hollywood Boulevard, staring out of the taxi window into a mesmerizing sky of shining lights and thinking how far I was from everything I knew. And right at that moment what was staring back at me, quite unbelievably, was a warm reminder of home.
Aaron Paul and his friends were beckoning me from the billboard to share some Bushmills Whiskey with them. In that moment I couldn’t have been prouder of my little Northern Ireland and, after tweeting my excitement (naturally), I resolved there and then to make a point of visiting the Old Bushmills Distillery when I returned back home.
(Note: If you don’t know who Aaron Paul is you must stop what you’re doing right this second and start watching Breaking Bad. You will thank me later.)
Over the weekend, I fulfilled my promise and took a tour of the famous Old Bushmills Distillery on Ireland’s North coast. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed on site so any pictures shown here are courtesy of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board at www.discovernorthernireland.com.
The distillery has been in operation since 1608, making it the oldest building of its type in Ireland. It has survived fires, Prohibition and two World Wars, and today continues to remain a constant in the lives of people from all over the world. Pretty impressive, indeed. Ownership has unsurprisingly changed hands over the centuries and currently lies with Diageo, one of the world’s premium drinks businesses, who has nurtured Bushmills to successfully establish themselves as a global brand.
Over time the distillery has developed its range which now includes Bushmills, Black Bush, Bushmills 10 year Malt, 16 year Malt and 21 year Malt. Yet, whilst these expand its principles continue to remain the same: triple-distilled malt whiskey made solely from barley, local water and yeast.
The tour was very informative and gave great insight into the historic values of the organization and the sheer volume of production it runs today. Accompanied by a local tour guide and long serving staff member (which gave things a very personal touch) we were invited to view the areas where the main processes take place, and take in the aroma of the warm, sweet barley as it turns to alcohol during fermentation.
A complimentary glass of whiskey was provided upon completion of the tour, much to the delight of my fellow tour group who had ventured from as far as the USA to visit the home of their favourite tipple! For me however, I’ve never been a whiskey drinker, yet had thoroughly convinced myself during the tour that my tastes would have changed over the past few years. The first sip proved that this was not the case. Wonderful tour but I’m sorry, give me a glass of red wine any day!
And the fun doesn’t stop there…
In 2012, Bushmills Live was born; the first mini-music festival held in the Old Bushmills Distillery which celebrates “handmade whiskey and handmade music.” Having lived away for the past few years I have not yet had the chance to attend this event, but I love to support local music talent and if the video below is anything to go by, I’ll be booking my 2014 ticket as soon as I can!
I’ll leave you to watch this short video (which includes some great views from inside the building), but remember you can learn more about Bushmills Whiskey on their very cool interactive website at www.bushmills.com including their history, products and information on tour bookings etc.
Lots of love, K.