Cigar Aficionado

Bushmills to Celebrate 400th Anniversary

Most of us know that silver marks a 25th anniversary and gold is for 50 years. But here's one that doesn't come up very often: how do you celebrate your 400th anniversary?

If you're Bushmills Irish Whiskey, you not only create a limited-edition release for your enthusiasts, but you get yourself a twin city in the United States.

In 1608 England's King James I first granted a license to distill in the region of Bushmill, Northern Ireland. Now, the town is conducting a nationwide search for a city or town on which to confer the title "Twin City of Bushmills in America." In addition to being toasted by the master distiller of Bushmills, the winning city will receive a $20,000 grant for preservation and advancement of the municipality's time-honored traditions and culture. Also, the first 10 towns to apply for the distinction will receive $1,000 for the same purpose. Applicants should visit for further information. The deadline for applications is December 21, 2007.

Of course, such a birthday celebration would be wanting without a commemorative bottling. Accordingly, the distiller will release Bushmills 1608 in the United States from February to December in 2008. The new whiskey blends the standard Bushmills triple-distilled malt and a small portion of grain whiskey with what the distiller calls "crystal malt." In the case of the latter malt, the barley is germinated while it is still moist to create a crystallized appearance. The result is a sweeter, fuller flavored whiskey than the standard expressions.

Bushmills 1608

While Bushmill can claim four centuries of spirits heritage, distilling was probably practiced in the town at least another two centuries before it was officially licensed there. The original spirits were called uisce beatha, Gaelic for water of life. From that term the modern word whiskey is derived. The Old Bushmills Distillery, itself, was registered in 1784 and is the only survivor of a once thriving Irish whiskey market that still contains all steps of production -- distilling, blending and bottling -- under one roof.

While its whiskey is steeped in the centuries of tradition, innovation has also informed the product throughout the years. Hence the use of crystal malt whiskey. "It's also a tribute to the unique spirit of this place," says Colum Egan, the master distiller. "Bushmills 1608 is just another step in a long history of innovation, a natural expression of our constant dedication to make the smoothest Irish whiskey."

Bushmills 1608, which is bottled at 92 proof, will be available for $100 in the United States.


Bushmills 1608 46% ABV0

Appearance: The color is amber with slight olive, and darker than other Bushmills expressions. The legs are massive.

Nose: The aroma is typical of Bushmills -- rosy and fruity -- but is joined with a core of olive oil, meaty fruit and honey.

Palate: Starts out with big dabs of honey and goes to fruity hard candy. Then sharp cheese shoots to the roof of the mouth before the whiskey settles back with a woody, toffee, bourbon notes.

Finish: Very long flavors of wood and honey.