Whisky and Words Number Three: Bushmills White

Bushmills White
Bushmills White

Bushmills white was the first whisky I actually savored. I was young, and impressionable, and thinking myself sophisticated — yet without means of acquiring sophistication. I’d muffed an opportunity to get my life together enough for higher education, so I worked a series of jobs and looked where I could for inspiration in our small town. I had read a book by Jack Higgins, The Eagle has Landed, in which a character named Devlin (an Irish revolutionary) helps out some Nazi paratroopers. It’s an outlandish plot delivered with aplomb and I remember Devlin favoring a specific Irish whisky, Bushmills. As fortune would have it, the local liquor/convenience store across from which I worked had Bushmills in stock and a compliant late-night clerk who would sell us adult (but not adult enough for America) working stiffs some booze.

I had also read that serious students at the university would speak gravely when they were reading The Russians, so I quickly learned who The Russians were (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, that lot) and began ending my day with Lev Nikolayevich and a glass of Bushmills.

An appropriate title, given the reader I was at the time.
An appropriate title, given the reader I was at the time.

So, one wonders if my early search for sophistication was at all well-founded? I’d have to say at least it set my taste for whisky. I’d had bourbon now and then with friends and not liked what I found — an overpowering fruity/sweet nose. That and I overindulged once, and anything that remotely reminded me of bourbon made me ill for some years. But Bushmills has a taste very different of that from the American whiskies. It is light, clean, and refreshing compared to old-school bourbons. That’s no surprise, as the mash bill and process is quite different. Whereas the American whiskies use a lot of corn, in Ireland it is barley and barley malt that goes into their whiskies. That and the Irish triple-distillation would make a sizable difference. Finally, being a blend, Bushmills has some grain whiskies added as well.

At $25 locally, Bushmills white label is in the rotation still at my house. We call on it when a non-peated dram is desired — which, for my wife, is most of the time. I call on Teachers for a taste of smoke for that same price.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Not like any other whisky I’ve tried and I still struggle to describe it. Grassy? A bit of sweetness, a touch of green peppers, dustiness.

Taste: Distinct barley taste, just a touch of sweetness, roses, oranges, plums. Nicely balanced.

Finish: Clean and quick. A touch of oak tannins.

Bottom line: Quick on the finish but a very good dram for a non-peaty night. Great value.

Author: H.W. MacNaughton

Technologist and communicator. Into technology, jazz, Formula One, sci-fi and any good writing about real stuff.

10 thoughts on “Whisky and Words Number Three: Bushmills White”

  1. You can’t find too many Irish whiskies here in Aus, but occasionally you do stumble along the Bushmills. Grassy is a really good description, one that I think applies to many Irish drops.
    Great review, though! The quest for sophistication is an ongoing one, and one I don’t think anyone ever truly achieves!
    Keep on waffling,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well my friend. It seems you have a gift for the written word. I enjoyed your back story. I myself enjoy the writings of Jack Higgins, in truth I have read everyone of his books. I am more partial to Sean Dillon than Liam Devlin, although Sean was Liams’ protege. I too dreamed of Irish whiskey every time I read his books, I just couldn’t seem to get away from the Scotch…until now.

    Your description of the Bushmills is quite fitting. My palate is a little more oriented to scotch though and for lightly peated daily dram prefer Glenfiddich 12 or Glenlivet 12. I am getting ready to dive deeper into the Irish pool. Slowly though, I want to take Bushmills in order of price moving up the ladder until there is no where to go.

    Keep up the great reviews. I really enjoyed this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sam thanks for the good words! That is heartening, I’m just starting on this blog quest for whisky. Yeah Jack was a hell of a writer, not sure if he’s still around. I’d like to hear about your Bushmills experiences, we’ve had a number of them, honey, black and green with mixed results.


  3. yes we have…I don’t want to sway your tasting. But the ‘single malt’ green (10-year, single malt) we found…a little weird. Let me know how you find it and keep up the good work on the site!


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