Bushmills Black Bush

♝- Great complex whisky for seasoned tasters 
♛- Distinctive, silky smooth with tones of sherry 
♚- Among my personal favourites

♟- Great for beginners, light and soft

Score: 89/100

The Bushmills Black Bush glides on the palate with silky smoothness as it releases a distinct sweetness that is in my view owed to maturation in superb quality sherry casks and triple distillation. This whiskey is a fantastic example of an Irish whiskey that has gone terrifically right! Together with the Johnnie Walker Black Label, I think the Bushmills Black Bush is the best value whisk(e)y on the market (these whiskies are both very different, but brilliant in their own way!). The Black Bush is a fine Irish whiskey, and listed in my “top whisky” list.

The Bushmills Black Bush has a lovely sherry influence, but it is not overdone and the sweetness balances beautifully against the sharp bitter and dry wood undertones in this whiskey. This whiskey shines with a youthful warm spark and sweet glow that adds a playful demeanor to an otherwise silky smooth and seriously complex whiskey.

What is that buzz? 

The striking feature of the Black Bush is its distinctive sweet buzz; a buzz in part resulting from the whiskey having matured up to 7 years in Spanish oloroso sherry casks and sweet bourbon barrels. The character of Bushmills Black Bush is influenced by the use of old sherry barrels of jerez de la frontera in particular. This, I think, is a masterstroke by Bushmills because the Black Bush has a spring in its step and the buzz of variety.
Oh so smooth! 

The use of the sherry casks and bourbon barrels in maturing the Black Bush works extremely well with the delightfully crisp triple distilled whisky, a common feature of Irish whiskey. This means that Irish whiskey tends to be lighter and smoother than other whiskies, and the Black Bush is just that! The characteristic smoothness of Irish whiskey made it the nobleman’s choice before prohibition in the United States decimated the Irish whiskey industry, allowing Scottish whisky to take over as the world’s leading producer of whisk(e)y. 

Prohibition and Irish whiskey

Law-makers in the United States had the bright idea to ban alcohol from 1920 to 1933, which essentially drove the industry underground. The nice bottle shop owner on the corner was replaced by gangsters, and by 1926 many people died and “hundreds of thousands more suffered irreversible injuries including blindness and paralysis” as noted on the Time website. Much of the lovely Irish whiskey Americans once enjoyed was replaced by illegally produced moonshine, and much of that contained poisons  The problem for the Irish whisky distillers was that the United States was an extremely important market, so suddenly Irish distillers had no buyers for a lot of their whiskey. Many Irish distillers closed their doors, but Bushmills survived.

Oldest distillery in the world

Bushmills claims to be the oldest distillery in the world, saying that the distillery gained its licence in 1608. This is such a nice thing, and it adds to the whole Bushmills experience.

Tasting notes – Bushmills Black Bush


A dense cloud of dark chocolate and spicy oak wafts up, as sweet sherry glows energetically with notes of rum and prune. I know this is a great whisky, because the character of the whiskey continues to develop in the glass. Herbaceous and floral tones develop with some earthiness, almost like a spring day in a lush green rose garden that has recently been watered. That sherry sweetness works so well with this whiskey. 


With a luscious texture the flavours glide against the palate with heavenly smoothness, with the sweet sherry playing its part but certainly not dominating. This is my kind of sherry cask whisky! It is not overly sweet, and it has a solid foundation supporting the sherry that presents oak, dark chocolate, cocoa and a lovely wood influenced dryness towards the end. It is incredibly silky and light, possibly the smoothest whisky I have tasted in a long time. The herbaceous flavours are little more pronounced on the palate, with some splashes of rosewater.   

The finish on this whiskey is very long with an enjoyable dryness evaporating from the base of the tongue, whetting the appetite for another sip of this sensational whiskey. The Bushmills Black Bush is a fantastic example of Irish whiskey. I highly recommend this whiskey, especially at its price. 

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