The Antrim coast of Northern Ireland is not to be missed as some of the most beautiful seascapes in the world are found there.Places like the Giant’s Causeway, while full of natural beauty are seeped with mythic tales of Finn McCool.. Any trip to the Antrim coast deserves an hour or two in the town of Bushmills to tour the distillery which has been in continuous operation on that very site since 1608. Ok, for the hard core political crowd, this is Protestant whiskey, but what the heck? The white in the tri-colour represents unity so let's drink some of this fine stuff!
During summer, there can be crowds so it is best to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon. When we arrived, even though in the busy month of July, we were able to join the next tour which started 10 minutes later at 3:30 in the afternoon. It is not possible to make reservations unless the group is 15 or larger and in such cases, contact the distillery in advance to make the booking.
Because of the alcohol vapors, no photography is allowed. The tour takes you through a working distellery and is an amazing experience of sight as well as aromas. The guides are top notch and the groups are kept small. Do be advised that there are some areas which can be quite warm, although the tour only remains in the warm areas for a few short moments.
Of course, the best is saved for last where guests who are of age can enjoy a single sample of their choice. We had the 12 year distillery reserve which can only be purchased onsite. Then, we indulged in the 21 year for an additional ten quid which is nothing short of liquid gold. Any bottle can be purchased and we left with a bottle of the 12 year reserve, which the distillery will personalize on the label, as well as a bottle of the 21 year whiskey that set us back 125 quid.
Bottles can be shipped anywhere in the UK or Ireland but that is it, so if returning to the USA or elsewhere, you will need to take them back in your checked luggage. Fortunately, the staff are quite adept at wrapping your precious purchases in bubble wrap to survive the abuse of the airlines. We had our luggage badly mangled on the return trip which included crushing as well as a significant puncture, and both our bottles made it home safely. Kudos to the Bushmills staff for a job well done and we lifted a toast to ye upon our arrival home and discovery that our precious cargo was still unharmed!
Spend an hour or two at Bushmills and discover for yourself why Irish whiskeys are considered liquid gold.