Old Bushmills Distillery is situated in the town of
Bushmills in the County Antrim in Northern Ireland.
Bushmills is the world’s oldest licensed whisky
distillery; in 1608 James 1 of England granted Sir
Thomas Philips a licence to distil whiskey. Historical
facts indicate that whiskey may have been produced in
the region as early as 1276. Although they obtained the
licence in 1608, the Old Bushmills Distillery did not
become an officially registered company until 1784.
At the end of the 1700s Bushmills produced close to 50
000 litres of whiskey, most of which went to the US
market and to the West Indies. The distillery even owned
a ship, the SS Bushmills, which transported the
sought-after whiskey across the Atlantic.
Although Bushmills is the world’s oldest licensed
distillery, a closer look at the buildings reveals that
significant changes have been made to the exterior since
1608. Most apparent are the striking pagoda roofs; the
pagoda roof was designed in the late 1800s by the
architect Charles Doig to improve the draught through
the kiln. In fact, most of Bushmills old buildings were
destroyed in a fire in 1885.
During the 1800s and the 1900s Bushmills managed to
maintain a stable production although the distillery
passed through numerous hands. In 1972 the distillery
was included in the newly formed Irish Distillers Group
which is currently owned by Pernod Richard. The Old
Bushmills Distillery is a tourist magnet and has over
100 000 visitors every year.
water from the St. Columb's Rill which flows close by
the distillery. They exclusively use barley grown on
Ireland. The malt is not smoked, which allows the
natural taste of the barley to carry through to the
finished product. The distillery has a large mash tun
and ten washbacks made from stainless steel.
A total of nine stills are used; four wash stills of 16
000 litres each, and five spirit stills of 9 000 litres
each. All stills are heated with internal steam coils.
Since Bushmills practice triple distillation, the spirit
from the final distillation has an alcohol content of 80
percent (!). The spirit is cut down with water to 63%
before it is filled into used sherry, port and bourbon
casks. Both storage and bottling is done on site.
Old Bushmills Distillery,
2 Distillery Road, Bushmills,
County Antrim, BT57 8XH
April - October (last tour 4pm each day), Monday to
Saturday 9.30am - 5.30pm, Sunday 12 noon - 5.30pm.
November – March: Monday to Friday 5 tours daily
(10.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, & 3.30pm), Saturday
and Sunday 3 tours daily (1.30pm, 2.30pm & 3.30pm).
The visitor centre is closed on Good Friday, July 12th,
Christmas & New Years holidays. Groups are encouraged to
telephone in advance to arrange their visit: +44 (0)28
207 33218. There is an admission charge, and after the
tour you may taste one of Bushmills bottlings. The
distillery has its own restaurant and two fully stocked
gift shops. In addition to the official bottlings, there
are a few unique bottlings on sale that cannot be bought
Pernod Ricard through Irish Distillers
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