It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Our first real snowfall in the city was this past Sunday and it was so beautiful; the perfect thing to finally get me into the holiday spirit. Lighting some cinnamon and sugar cookie candles, turning on the Christmas music and watching the snow blanket the yard and sipping on a glass of…well, I will tell you what was in my glass a bit later.
I received an early Christmas gift from Bushmills Irish Whiskey that was simply sublime. I rarely receive such a run of a line of product from a beverage company so I was blown away by their generosity and excited that I would be able to switch up my Wine Wednesdays to Whiskey and tell you which are my favourite of the Bushmill family of products (from what I’ve tasted).
Bushmills in partnership with Narrative PR produced an absolutely perfect social distancing tasting (more to that in another post) that was hosted by Jared Boller, Canadian Brand Ambassador (@whiskeycoach on IG), and Master Blender Helen Mulholland (you know I stan women bosses in the beverage alcohol industry). I will admit, prior to this event I wasn’t terribly familiar with Bushmills which is a dreadful shame considering they are the oldest continuously operating distiller in the world, over 400 years in the game. As Helen puts it, “we are not the best because we are the oldest, we are the oldest because we are the best.” Real staying power, quality speaks for itself really.
So as a total nube (in the Bushmills sense only, of course) I appreciated being guided through the history of each bottle. The funny thing about tastings though is folks can never TELL you what YOU taste. Taste is so incredibly personal. The Master Blenders can strive to present a certain experience but if you have olives for lunch that can totally throw your taste off, which is why I appreciated having these full sized bottles to try more on my own. Experiencing how the whiskey tastes after a steak dinner or a slice of warm bread pudding and ice cream is totally different.
I’m going to run down a few of the Bushmills Irish Whiskey staples and how I like to drink them including a festive holiday cocktail recipe.
Bushmills Black Bush Sherry Cask Reserve
I’ll just come out and say it, this one is one of my favourites. As I am writing this I am not ashamed to say the bottle is empty. Despite being only eight years aged, it’s deep colour and robust flavour really gives you a sense of something more mature, I will give that up to the Bushmills touch. This blended whiskey aged in sherry and bourbon barrels is such an easy drink. I think I liked this one so much because it reminds me of Christmas cake, now I know that means something different depending on where you are from, but let me remind you, I’m Jamaican and the cake we eat during the Christmas holidays is somewhat of a sacrament. Think dry dark fruit like dates, currants, cherries with a touch of vanilla, and spice. Perfection.
Bushmills Single Malt 10 YR
Ok, so now we are entering into the pure stuff, single malt. Here is a note when buying aged liquor, specifically whiskey (which includes scotch) and rum, the age on the bottle is the minimum age of what was in the barrel; which means that your ten year could have whiskey as old at 12, 14 or 16 years in it. For the Bushmills 10yr it is distinctly different from the Bushmills Original. The colour is deeper, the drink is smoother. It’s light, fresh and subtle, Bushmills in its purest form. It gives a little tingle on the lips which is nice. I had a bit of an emotional response to this one. Helen described it as a winter morning and immediately I was reminded of something a dear friend of mine shared with me, when describing his ideal Christmas morning. He said it would start just before daybreak, he would pour himself a glass of whiskey, adorn a heavy jacket and winter boots and venture out to the brisk air of a snow covered backyard to begin smoking a huge cut of meat. Tasting the Bushmills 10year made me think, this is the whiskey my friend would have in his glass.
Bushmills Single Malt 16 YR
Now the 16-year-old rare lives up to expectations. This is a refined whiskey, I mean after all it is triple distilled. I found this glass to be very complex and it reveals itself more and more after every sip. It is a deep ruby colour, due to it being finished in port wine pipes. Helen says she hand-picks each cast of 16 year, and every sip reflects the hand of a Master Blender. Over the last couple weeks, I have reached for this bottle a few times at the end of the day around 5 pm, sink into my chair, and play a bit of Sarah Vaughan. It’s special, all by oneself or with company.
Bushmills The Original
Most distillers have a bottle that is perfect for cocktails and honestly this is one. Whether you are making an Irish coffee on a Saturday morning or doing like me and adding it to some mulled apple cider, it is a phenomenal addition. Actually I have enjoyed my spiked apple pie in a glass so much I figured I would share the recipe here:
Let’s start with the Mulled Apple Cider, it’s super simple and really quick. Most of the ingredients you may already have in your home or are readily available at the grocery store.
Spiked Apple Pie
- Apple Cider (6 cups)
- Cinnamon sticks (2 sticks)
- Allspice (2 star anise pods)
- Cloves (2 whole cloves)
- Ginger (1 tbsp or the size of your thumb)
- Orange (juice of 1 orange and 3 slices with rind)
- Vanilla (½ teaspoon)
- Nutmeg (¼ teaspoon)
- Bushmills Original 6oz
Pour apple cider into a saucepan add all the ingredients and let it simmer for about 10mins. Just before you take it off the stove add your Bushmills Original (I typically do one ounce per serving, two ounces if I’m feeling festive). If you want to save time, you can buy mulled apple cider ready-made at the store.
This cocktail is served warm and makes you feel super toasty, hence why it is the perfect winter night drink. After you finish a glass of spiked apple pie you are ready to curl up under a blanket and call it a night. If you follow my personal accounts on Instagram or Twitter and you’ve made it this far, you will now know what was in my glass!
To win a Bushmills X TasteMyLife gift
- follow my personal account on Twitter or IG
- comment under my Thirsty Thursday and post the name of this cocktail.
- Share this article and tag TasteMyLife on any of your socials
The winner(s) will be announce Sunday November 29th at 7pm!
Special thanks to Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Narrative PR and Proximo for these delicious treats!
#BeSafe #EnjoyResponsibly #TasteMyLife