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Issue 42 - HomeoftheBlackart(Bushmills)

Whisky Magazine Issue 42
September 2004

 

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HomeoftheBlackart(Bushmills)

Irelandisn'tnormallyassociatedwithsinglemalts,butatBushmillsthey'reinvestingheavilyinproducingoutstandingwhiskeys.DominicRoskrowwentthere

AtthestartofeveryweekColumEgangoesontheinternet,looksuphislistofoilsuppliers,picksupthephoneandplaysbrokerforafewhours.Andrightnow,withpressureonoilpricesunlikelytoeaseup,Mondaymorningsarebecomingincreasinglyimportantandsignificant.

ColumismasterdistilleratBushmillsinCountyAntrim,NorthernIreland,andwhilefuelcostsaffectmostcompanies,theytakeonanevengreatersignificanceatadistillerythatproducessinglemaltrequiringtripledistillation.

“It'sabiginvestmentonthepartofthedistillery,”hesays.“Whilemostdistilleriesrequire0.6to0.8litresoffueltoproducealitreofalcohol,hereit'saboutonelitreoffuel.Thatisbetween25percentand66percentmore.Therewasatimewhenwecouldgetaguaranteedpriceforayearbutwiththemarketasvolatileasitisnowthat'snolongerthecase,soIhavetodoitonaweeklybasis.

“Weuseabout60,000litresofheavyfueleveryweekandsoweareatthemercyoftheoilmarkets.It'soneclearreasonwhyitishardtocompeteoverpricewithmanyotherwhiskeys.Wehavehighercosts.”

Bushmillssitsclosetowhatiswidelyregardedasoneoftheworld'sgreatsights,theGiant'sCauseway,some40minutesnorthofBelfast.Itisapretty,virtuallyself-containeddistillery,anditboaststheworld'sfirstwhiskey-producinglicence.Itwasgrantedin1608thoughthefolkatIrishDistillerswillclaimthatwhiskeywasproducedonthesiteforsome300yearspriortothat.

Unsurprisingly,therefore,theygetabitmiffedwhentheirEasterncousinsdismisstheireffortsasinsomewayinferior.Indeed,theyargue,puttheirwhiskeyupwiththeverybestanditmorethanholdsitsown.

“Idon'twanttobetreatedinaspecialcategoryasa...

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