The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2012

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Page 65 of 128

IRISH WHISKEY Where Whiskey Comes Alive BUSHMILLS LIVE BRINGS FANS TO NORTHERN IRELAND by Fred Minnick Snow Patrol performs at Bushmills Live. Bushmills Irish Whiskey at historic Giant's Causeway on the coast of Northern Ireland. Actor Elijah Wood (aka DJ Wooden Wisdom) with Bushmills Master Distiller Colum Egan. T housands of years ago, a volcanic eruption forced 40,000 basalt columns to interlock in Northern Ireland. The lava cooled rapidly and the unforgiving pounding of the Irish Sea caused biscuit-like pillars to form in one of the world's most mysterious beauties. Known today as Giant's Causeway (and famously depicted on the cover of Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy album), this world wonder is just a short drive from the Old Bushmills Distillery. In June, for Bushmills Live, consumer contest winners and trade members walked these uneven stones with a whiskey in hand for a proper "Bushmills on the Rocks," one of many amazing moments at the Irish brand's landmark festival. Only 400 people attended the event, which featured inti- mate concerts with Grammy nominee Snow Patrol, Atlantic Records' The Staves and Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood, who deejays as DJ Wooden Wisdom. The stars walked about the crowd, eating Bushmills cupcakes and sipping good whiskey with regular, everyday Joes. For Bushmills Master Distiller Colum Egan, it was an "incredible occasion." But perhaps more important, Bushmills Live was a day of whiskey education for music journalists and spirits newcomers alike. Egan demonstrated the steps of whiskey-making, explained Bushmills history, showed novice whiskey drinkers how barrels are made and discussed what happens to the leftover distiller's grain: "We give our barley to farmers feeding cattle," Egan explained. "Farmers love it because it's traceable." Bushmills' American future appears to be bright. Right now, the U.S. represents 35 to 40 percent of total sales for the Diageo-owned brand, which has also shown great growth in places expected (the U.K.) and unexpected (Bulgaria). "It's just phenomenal," Egan says about the brand's future. Especially when you can give fans an exclusive experience like Bushmills Live. august 2012 / the tasting panel / 65 PHOTO: FRED MINNICK PHOTO COURTESY OF DIAGEO PHOTO COURTESY OF DIAGEO

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