Bushmills Malt 16 Yr Old Single Malt Whiskey 88pts
A Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
The 16 Yr old Bushmills Single Malt is comprised of whiskey distilled three times. A portion of the whiskey is aged in American oak bourbon casks and a portion is aged in Oloroso sherry oak casks. All of the whiskey is aged for 16 or more years. The final whiskey is blended prior to finishing in old oak Port wine pipes. With such a variety of oak used in the aging and finishing in there is the potential for great complexity.
In the Bottle (4.5/5)
Bushmills is packaged in an attractive brown oval cardboard sleeve to protect the spirit. Curiously enough the bottle shape is square rather than oval. A nice write up on the whiskey can be found on the cardboard sleeve. And the corkage is more than satisfactory. I found myself thinking however that the whiskey deserved a nicer overall package.
In the Glass (9.0/10)
In some ways the initial aroma is more like a grain whiskey than a malt, spicy ryelike notes and mild anise licorice. But deeper in the glass the malty barley notes come out as strong as ever. There is just a little oil giving tiny legs in the glass, and if you wait, fruity berries and toffee vanilla sit even further down.
In the Mouth (53/60)
Irish Whiskey has its own unique flavour heritage, spicy anise and a smooth grainy profile. Personally I find Irish whiskey to be smooth and easy to drink. Bushmills 16yr Single Malt does not disappoint in this regard. The Irish heritage stands proudly here, but this is a single malt, not a grain whiskey. This means we get a little more sweetness on the palate. The anise flavour is more licorice like.
However the whiskey has other complex flavours not commonly found in other Irish whiskeys. A firm but mellow vanilla bourbon (from the American whiskey oak), a subtle but slightly heavy sherry influence (from the Oloroso cask), and fruity cherrylike flavours from the port pipes. It is in these nontypical Irish whiskey flavours that I find small flaws. We have a little to much competition for attention. In particular the Oloroso sherry note is just a tad heavy, and clashes with the Irish whiskey flavour of anise licorice. The Oloroso sherry tends to dominate rather than compliment the Irish heritage of this whiskey. I can’t help but think that the sherry cask portion of the whiskey spent too long in the cask.
In the Throat (14/15)
One of the nicest finishes I have experienced in Irish whiskey. The competeing flavours have settled down and it is really nice to feel the gentle burn. The finish is clean and crisp as well. Bushmills have triple distilled this product, and I believe this has contributed greatly to the crisp clean finish. A nice spriciness stays in the throat rather than oil.
The Afterburn (8.0/10)
The complex mouth requires me to be in a very receptive mood to appreciate it. I keep wondering…. what if they did away with the sherry casks altogether? I truly think the whiskey would improve from being excellent to spectacular. I find the sherry influence just a little offsetting. Bushmills Single Malt is much better than some whiskeys I sip regularly; but, I believe it could be much more than it is.
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