Bushmills Just Dropped Its Oldest Irish Whiskey Yet


Bushmills has been around for a long time. Like a really long time. In fact, the brand calls itself as “the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world.” It’s been making whiskey in the same spot, along the craggy coast of Northern Ireland, since 1784. 

But enough about the past. We care much more about what they’ve done for us lately. And to that end, Bushmills has been busier than ever before. Last year, the legendary address doubled production, cutting the ribbon on a bright and shiny new facility, the Causeway Distillery. Around that same time, it introduced a bottle-rebrand and expanded its permanent portfolio to include 25- and 30-year-old expressions. Now comes something even longer in the tooth.

Behold: Bushmills 31. We secured an advanced pour of this $2,600 limited release and have some things to say. 

First of all, this latest offering is a spice bomb from start to finish. After it’s poured slowly into a snifter, notes of nutmeg and coffee hurtle towards your nose. The savory threads belie a deeply fruity sip, which is punctuated by fresh peaches and orange marmalade, commensurate with the color it shows in the glass. A lengthy tail follows, and coconut, praline, java, and juice linger after each sip.

There’s a joyful punchiness to this single-malt, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect from something bottled at an accessible 46 percent ABV. It’s likely the result of the liquid’s unconventional finish. A stock of 14-year-old whiskies—collected from a combination of ex-bourbon barrels and ex-sherry butts—was married and brought to rest for 17 additional years in virgin American oak (which is typically reserved for American whiskies). But atop a triple-distilled Irish whiskey, they introduce a novel layer of spiced nuttiness that we can’t get enough of.

Sadly, there isn’t hardly enough of it. As part of Bushmills’ ephemeral Rare Cask label, it exists as a wondrous one-off. This fourth entry into the lineup actually marks the conclusion of the series, which began in early 2021 with a sensational 28-year-old single-malt steeped in cognac barrels. Master blender Alex Thomas then played from strength to strength, adding a year in age statement to each subsequent release.

At least it’s going out with a bang—a spectacularly spicy bang that’s now available in limited quantities online at ReserveBar and in-person at select retailers nationwide. And let’s not get too wispy about the abrupt end of Rare Cask, either. As this historic malt maker has made plainly clear in recent years, the best is yet to come. 

Related: The 23 Best Irish Whiskeys to Enjoy Any Time

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