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Issue 15 - Journey from hell to reach whisky heaven (Bushmills)

Whisky Magazine Issue 15
April 2001

 

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Journey from hell to reach whisky heaven (Bushmills)

Stuart Maclean Ramsay embarks on a perilous pilgrimage to Bushmills, home of the world's oldest distillery, in an attempt to find out why, after visiting , some people talk of reincarnation and spirituality

When I die,” says David Dorsey, the Irish and Scotch Brand Director for the Brown-Forman Corporation of Louisville, Kentucky, “I want to come back as either the manager of Ardbeg Distillery or Bushmills.”

It should be noted that Mr. Dorsey's company imports both spirits into the United States and has been responsible for the reincarnation of
Bushmills Irish whiskey from a sleepy, peripheral Celtic brand to a formidable and exciting player in the US Irish whiskey category.

If his dying wish were to come about, the newly risen David could wander down to the pier at Ardbeg or the basalt Causeway of Antrim, gaze across the North Channel of the Irish Sea and glimpse the rolling landscape of his alternative heavenly still. A mere 25 miles or so of sea
separates Islay and Ardbeg from the glens and coastline of County Antrim, home of Bushmills Distillery, and Celts and seafarers have been criss-crossing this sea road for thousands of years. Nomadic boatpeople, Finn McCool and Fingal (the ancient warrior heroes of Celtic mythology), missionaries of the old Celtic Church, slave-trading Norsemen and medieval Lords of the Isles are some of the characters who have made that journey. In 1300, the Lordship brought over from County Derry a family of Beatons, skilled in the art of distilling aqua vitae (the water of life), and they would remain hereditary doctors and distillers to their MacDonald Lords for 300 years. All have left their imprint along the windswept, breathtaking c...

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