The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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Page 38 of 116

iRisH WHISKEY Perfect Parenting A Bushmills Master Distiller Colum Egan. lot has changed at Bushmills since it joined the Diageo stable in August 2005—and all of it for the better, according to Master Distiller Colum Egan. “There’s been around £11 [$17.5] million of investment in the distillery alone,” he tells THE TASTING PANEL, “let alone increased marketing and brand support, and we plan further capital work in the next year.” With his wash-backs, mash tuns and still- house totally refurbished, production is up to record levels, and the distillery is working seven days a week to fi ll three new 20,000- barrel-capacity warehouses, with a fourth and fi fth expected by 2011. “We’ve hired fi ve new people in the distillery alone,” said Egan proudly, “but a production team with a minimum of 25 years service soon got them making whiskey the way we want it.” And that’s something the company is keen to stress. With output rising as fast as sales, Egan insists “We’re more effi cient, but the taste hasn’t changed, and Bushmills’ fruity character hasn’t altered.” With the U.S. market accounting for around 35% of global sales, it’s no surprise that the company is bringing a full line of products to San Francisco for this year’s Whiskies of the World Expo. Visitors can try up to six expressions, including the rare and premium 21 Year Old and the renowned 16 Year Old Port Finish. Over the next few years the company plans to concentrate on this range, though supplies of the commemorative 1608 blend, produced to mark the 400th anniversary of distilling around Bushmills, will eventually run out. No problem, however, for drinkers attracted to the crisp taste of this distinctive dram, as the distillery has laid down fresh stocks made with the expensive, low-yielding but oh-so-tasty crystal malt. Egan sees the Bushmills drinker in the U.S. very clearly. “He or she has moved on from shots and parties, and with a few dollars in their pocket, they can afford to experiment with real smoothness and character.” Like Ireland itself, these are whiskeys that are friendly, approachable and easy to drink—but with plenty of subtle complexities if you know where to look. The Bushmills Original bottle was recently redesigned to refl ect the distillery’s more than 400 years of tradition. BUsHMiLLs GROWS AND PROPSERS UNDER DIAGEO’S STEWARDSHIP by ian Buxton Bushmills is the most northerly distillery in Ireland. 38 / the tasting panel / april 2010

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