Old Bushmills Distillery

About the Old Bushmills Distillery

At the top of the village of Bushmills, you will find the famous ‘Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery’. bush1sml-4966175Old Bushmills Distillery is the oldest whiskey distillery in Ireland. Some would say it’s the ‘World’s Oldest Licensed Whiskey Distillery’.The Victorian architecture of the Distillery dates from 1885 when it was rebuilt due to a fire.It has been legally producing Irish Malt Whisky since 1608 when King James 1st granted the original license.The process of illegal distillation in the village goes back even further than 1608.

Local folklore tells of whiskey being made illegally in the 1400’s. There is mention of Uisce Beatha – (meaning “water of life” in Irish, or whiskey as we know it today).

Bushmills has been making the finest Irish Malt Whiskey here for almost four hundred years. bush2sml-3198742During its existence the Old Bushmills Distillery has changed ownership many times. In 1972 it became part of the Irish Distillers Group who themselves were taken over by Pernod Ricard. The distillery is now owned by Diageo.

Who-ever owns it, Black Bush is hard to beat, especially served hot with a hint of clove and a teaspoon of honey. Excellent if you have a cold or flu on a freezing winter’s night.


The Old Bushmills Distillery invites you to experience for yourself the craft and skills of making an Irish Single Malt Whiskey. Daily guided tours illustrate how the golden liquid is produced.During the tour you will discover the secrets of the special water from St. Columb’s Rill, the malted Irish barley, triple distillation in copper stills and ageing for long years in Oak Casks.

Of course, no visit would be complete without enjoying a complimentary glass of the final product, one of their famous whiskeys.

They vary during the year, so it is best to visit their website for the latest information: http://www.bushmills.com/Visit

After all the touring, if you’re feeling a bit hungry call into ‘The Distillery Kitchen’ for a snack. The restaurant is open 7 days a week and boasts a traditional Irish menu, using only local produce which includes Ploughman’s Platter, Shepherd’s Pie and locally landed Smoked Salmon, not to mention Liz’s amazing home baking.

Member of the Taste of Ulster Good Food Guide 2005.

The Ingredients

Irish Malt Whiskey is made from the finest natural raw materials: malted barley, yeast and crystal clear river water.

bush4sml-5274276The uniqueness of the Malt Whiskey distilled in Bushmills lies in the character of the barley grown in Ireland, in the special water from Saint Columb’s Rill, a tributary of the river Bush which runs beside the distillery, and it’s distinctive triple distillation process.

The barley is first germinated under spring-like conditions and dried in closed kilns without the use of peat smoke, giving it an unpeated taste, free of the smokiness present in Scotch Whiskies. This process is called ‘Malting’ and gives rise to the term Malt Whiskey.

The Process

Whiskey making is a slow unhurried process consisting of five main steps:

(1) Mashing

After the Malting, the barley is ground into a coarse flour called ‘Grist’. This is then mixed with hot water and allowed to settle in a large vessel called a ‘Mash Tun’. The starches in the mash transform it into a sugary liquid called ‘Wort’.

(2) Fermentation

The liquid ‘Wort’ is separated from the residual mash and transferred to a large vat known as a ‘Washback’. Yeast is then added and the resulting fermentation converts the sugar in the wort into alcohol and the resultant liquor known as ‘Wash’.

(3) Triple Distillation

The ‘Wash’ is then pumped to the ‘Still House’ where it is distilled three times in large copper Pot Stills of traditional design.

The process of distillation involves separating alcohol and the flavours derived from the malt from water. The alcohol in the ‘Wash’ evaporates at a lower temperature than the water.

The resulting alcohol vapour is condensed and then distilled again a second and third time, becoming purer with each repetition. The condensed liquid from the first distillation is called ‘Low Wines’, from the second, ‘Feints’ and from the third, ‘Spirit’.

(4) Maturation

The pure ‘Spirit’ is collected in a ‘Spirit Receiver’ and it’s strength is reduced by adding water. It is then transferred into oak casks and put away to rest for years in vast, dark, aromatic warehouses where the spirit will slowly mature into whiskey.

(5) Vatting

The Master Distiller of “Old Bushmills” regularly assesses the taste of the maturing whiskey, a difficult task you might say!!!When completely satisfied, he will assemble in a vat, according to a secret formula, precise quantities of whiskeys from different casks.During vatting, these whiskeys are allowed to marry to achieve the ultimate aroma and taste which is characteristic of each brand. The whiskey will then be bottled, ready to be enjoyed anywhere around the world. Old Bushmills Distillery, 2 Distillery Road, Bushmills, Co Antrim BT57 8XH.

bushmap-2001306The distillery lies on the banks of St. Columb’s Rill, situated two miles from the spectacular Giant’s Causeway, and one mile from the historical Dunluce Castle.

The Distillery is situated in an area of outstanding beauty, which is rich in history and folklore. On the B77 south out of Bushmills Village. Follow the brown tourist signs.

The drive time from Belfast is approx. 1.15 hours. For car hire information, checkout, Getting Around.

If you would like an accurate map reference location for the Old Bushmills Distillery, type the postcode, BT57 8XH into Google Maps.

If you would driving directions to the Old Bushmills Distillery from anywhere in Northern Ireland, type postcode BT57 8XH into Route Planner.

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