The Old Bushmills Distillery


An old photo of the distillery from years ago

Distilling whisky has a well-established history in the Bushmills area since as far back as 1276 when Sir Robert Savage and his army came to the area en route to battle and enjoyed “a mighty drop of acqua vitae”. The location wasn’t officially granted a license until 1608 but went on to become The Old Bushmills Distillery Company in 1784 under Hugh Anderson. From the onset, the distillery was met with mixed times and ceased production on numerous occasions including in 1885 when the original building was burnt down. 5 years later, the distillery launched its own steamship, the S.S. Bushmills, to deliver Bushmills whiskey to countries across the globe.

Though not officially verified, The Bushmills Distillery is believed to be the oldest licensed distillery in the world. Bushmills have produced a varied range of whiskeys over the years with the distillery even appearing on banknotes printed by the Bank of Ireland. You can visit the distillery itself in the town of Bushmills on Antrim’s Northern coast. The distillery provides a tour which takes you from the whiskey’s beginnings in the mixing room to the bottling plant at the end of the line. Among the process, keep your eyes peeled for The Grey Lady; the distillery’s resident ghost.

Not only is the distillery the oldest in the world, it is also among the most critically acclaimed with its premium Black Bush blend winning double gold in both 2007 and 2010 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.  Beyond the blends, Bushmills produce a wide range of aged malts which are still sold worldwide. If you’re a whiskey fan, you’ll definitely enjoy seeing the process behind these famed tipples. 

Self Catering in County Antrim

Self Catering in Northern Ireland

Words by John Temke

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