Whisky Magazine Issue 125
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A roundup of Irish whiskey
The M1 is not a pretty road. The motorway between Dublin and Belfast is functional. Tarmacadam rolls for 90 kilometres, punctuated by service stations selling day old tuna sandwiches and advertising keen exchange rates on Sterling or Euro, depending on the direction one is headed. Many towns along the route are bypassed, so the drive is quick and easy, if not a little dull across the border that divides Ireland from Northern Ireland. In contrast to more turbulent times during the ‘Troubles', there is now nothing obvious to herald the crossing into ‘the North'. There are no armed check points and even the old observation towers are long decommissioned. Skirting Belfast, we join the road for the Antrim Coast, heading to Bushmills, widely considered the oldest licensed distillery in the world. The scenery dramatically improves. The vistas are breathtaking, the road snakes alongside the rocky coastline, and the sea sparkles in the weak November sun.
The town of Bushmills is picturesque, if a little self-conscious in its quaint signage and white washed walls. We stay at the Bushmills Inn, a turreted 17th Century hotel which boasts an award winning restaurant and a busy pub which hosts traditional music sessions. A brisk ten minute walk across town delivers us to the distillery, recently sold by Diageo to Jose Cuervo, signalling Diageo's exit from the Irish whiskey market. It is a curious decision. Bushmills is one of only three Irish distilleries with their own mature stock...