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The world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery that proudly claims: ‘We've been here for 400 years and don't plan on leaving soon.’


The history of Bushmills dates back to 1608 when King James I granted a licence to a local man, Sir Thomas Phillips, to distill whiskey. The world’s oldest whiskey distillery is located in a tiny riverside village called Bushmills in Northern Ireland. It is a village where family, friends and neighbours have worked side by side for centuries, united by the belief that proper Irish whiskey can only be handcrafted in small batches.


The journey of Bushmills has not been easy – for example, there was a time when a tax on barley was imposed, and, in 1885, a disastrous fire completely destroyed the Old Bushmills Distillery. However, the distillery was rebuilt in the same year and five years later the company was already doing so well that they acquired a steamship which they used to deliver bottles of Bushmills, mainly to the USA but also to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Yokohama.


In the early 20th century, the USA was one of the most important markets for Bushmills. When the American Prohibition hit, Bushmills took a large blow. A Belfast-based wine and spirit merchant named Samuel Wilson Boyd bought the Bushmills distillery as he anticipated the end of US Prohibition and ensured that there were large stores of whiskey ready for export when the time was right. When Prohibition ended in 1933, he made quite a few pennies when his years-long belief saved the Bushmills distillery.


Production was brought to a halt during World War II and the distillery was used to house Allied troops. At the same time, Belfast was under attack and the archives of the Belfast Bushmills headquarters were destroyed in the bombing. Despite this, Bushmills’ sales numbers went through the roof after the war – largely due to the US market again.


Bushmills is the pride of the Irish – in 2008, when Bushmills celebrated their 400th anniversary, the Bank of Ireland issued a new series of banknotes which featured an illustration of the Old Bushmills Distillery on the obverse side. The distillery has become a popular tourist attraction with more than 100,000 visitors per year. Every year the famous Bushmills Live concert takes place in the whiskey distillery in Northern Ireland.


During its 400 years, Bushmills has had many owners. In 2005, the multinational company Diageo bought the brand, however, in 2014, Diageo traded the Bushmills brand with Jose Cuervo in exchange for the 50% of the Don Julio brand of tequila that they did not already own. Currently, Bushmills is owned by Jose Cuervo.


Triple distilled

Triple distillation is what gives Bushmills its characteristic flavour profile. Four different types of casks are used for different flavours: Oloroso sherry casks, port pipes, Madeira drums, and bourbon casks.


Under one roof

Even today, all stages of production take place under one roof. This allows for easy management of all stages and to ensure the highest quality products.


Irish pride

“We’re not good because we’re old, we’re old because we’re good” – Colum Egan, Master Distiller of Bushmills. 

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