Bushmills 21 Years Review

“Like Hen’s Teeth”

Country: Ireland
Brand: Bushmills 
Type: Single Malt Whiskey
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol: 40%

Colour: Dark Amber

Nose: Full, Sweet, Creamy and Mature. What a pity it is bottled at 40% only. The influence of the Sherry and Fortified Red Wine casks is quite noticeable. I find Dark Red Fruit, Dried Apricot, Ripe Apples, Banana Ice Cream, Papaya Cream, Peach or Nectarine, Oak, Honey, Vanilla, Toffee, Golden Syrup, Mature Bourbon, Dark Chocolate with a high Cocoa content, Marzipan, Buttered Toast, Malt, Ginger, Cinnamon and hints of Tobacco, Espresso and Orange Peel. I'm not a huge fan of Red Wine Finishing but in this case it works out very nicely. The Alcohol is fully integrated. This is by far the most complex Irish Whiskey I have nosed so far.

Palate: The Delivery is slightly Thin as could be expected at 40%. On the Palate, the Bushmills 21 is quite Sweet and rather Dry. Fans of mature Bourbon will probably like this Irish cousin a lot. I find Dark Red Fruit, Dried Fruit (Raisins and Apricot), Banana, Red Wine, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Oak and Resin, assorted Nuts, Toffee, Ginger, Cinnamon, Vanilla-Flavoured Pipe Tobacco, Coconut Milk and Espresso. On the Palate the 21 suffers from the insufficient ABV. 

Finish: Sweet at first but quickly becoming Dry. The Oak is quite present by now. I also find Dark Red Fruit, Sultanas soaked in Rum, Dark Chocolate, Nuts, Honey, Malt, Tobacco, Espresso, Black Tea, Cinnamon, Menthol and Licorice.  

I only had a very small sample at my disposal so I only nosed and tasted this Bushmills neat. I would imagine that a little added Water would further open the Malty and Fruity Aromas and Flavours.

Rating: 87.5   

Nose: 23 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 22

General Remarks: The Bushmills Distillery is located in the Antrim County in Northern Ireland. In 2005 it was bought by the Diageo Group but in November 2014 they sold it to Casa Cuervo, well-known for its Tequila. The Distillery produces a whole range of Bushmills expressions including the Original or White Label as it's often referred to, the Black Bush, the 10, 12, 16 and 21 Years Single Malts and the Special Edition 1608, released in 2008 to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of Legal Distilling at Bushmills. The Bushmills 21 Years matured in a 50/50 mix of Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Oloroso Sherry casks before being married for 2 years in Madeira infused casks. It is Triple-Distilled, coloured and Chill-Filtered. Today's batch was bottled in 2014. It costs between 85 and 120 US Dollars (November 2015).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. Very nice Nose.

Conclusion: This is the most complex Irish Whiskey I have tasted so far. The 21 Years is a very good Whiskey indeed but it could - and should have been a great one. Why on earth is this bottled at 40% and why did the distillery apply Chill Filtration? Especially when you consider the fact that this Whiskey has already been distilled thrice. I feel that a lot of potential additional Aromas and Flavours were lost this way. At this price level the Distillery should consider these items. Nevertheless I really enjoyed this Bushmills, especially on the Nose. If you're a fan of Sherried Whisky with lots of Oak, Dark Red Fruit, Dried Fruit, Chocolate and Nuts you should give this Bushmills 21 Years a chance! Because it's as good as Irish Whisky gets.  

Jan van den Ende                                                               November 2, 2015

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