top of page

Bushmills 16 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey Review

Bushmills 16 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Single malt Irish whiskey may be a little different than what you would normally expect from the Irish whiskey category as a whole. This single malt distinction simply means it is made from a mash bill of 100% malted barley and has been produced by a single distillery. Though there will be parallels to your Jameson or Redbreast you likely know and love, the flavor profile of this type of whiskey might be more likened to that of the single malt Scotch whisky category. This new flavor wheel is one I have been exploring in depth lately, and as such, I'm glad to bring you a review of this 16 year Bushmills release. The laser code, assuming it follows the paradigm of Redbreast bottlings, seems to indicate this is a 2020 bottling. I suppose it could also be 2010, or 2000, given we only get the one digit after the "L" in the laser code. You will notice this is the old bottle style, which Bushmills has since rebranded into the labeling shown below.

Rebranded Bushmills 16 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Bushmills is quite an old distillery. They dive into a little of their history on their website, saying:

Along the north coast of Ireland, where arctic storms rage against the jagged cliffs and where the crisp waters of the River Bush cut through volcanic rock, generations have passed down an ancient distilling tradition.
Bushmills is named for the mills that made the barley and the River Bush, which remains the water source to cut our whiskey to proof today.

They have also stayed true to using only 100% malted barley. When the Crown imposed taxes on distillers in Ireland in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the broader Irish whiskey landscape began to use unmalted barley and other grains, thereby inventing the pot still whiskey nomenclature. Despite a tumultuous history through accidents, the passing of Prohibition in the States, and the destruction of war, Bushmills has pressed on. Between 1983 and 2001, they were ready to resurrect the single malt Irish whiskey bottling we have today. Alongside the 16 year, the distillery also put out a 10 year and 21 year, this trio going on to become some of the most awarded whiskeys of any type.

Bushmills 16 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey

As for the whiskey inside this bottle, we'll just have to taste it to find out if it's any good. That's likely why you're here, isn't it? Well, alright then, patient reader, let's get on with the show.


Company on Label: "Old Bushmills" Distillery Company (Imported by Proximo Spirits)

Whiskey Type: Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 100% malted barley

Proof: 80°

Age: 16 years

Further identification: The more modern bottlings of this whiskey are available now at an MSRP of $120; hopefully there is not a big change in taste since the branding update


Nose: Mmm, the sweet aromas of this glass could fill any room. I can smell the silky oloroso sherry influence from a mile away. Candied cherry, sweet walnut, plum, and grape skins greet my nose with intoxicating beauty. Digging past that sweetness is actually surprisingly easy, revealing light black pepper, leather, fried dough, and hints of dried summer grass. I'm shocked at the transition speed of this well-rested glass. The pool of sherry and port that was lying in wait quickly dissipates as I exchange the air in the glass with the breath from my lungs. A second, lighter-power act begins to bubble up with creamy vanilla frosting, anjou pear, and slightly drying oak. A lack of patience urges me towards a sip.

Returning to the nose after a sip offers the brightest feeling yet as freshly laundered white linens hang on the clothesline. More walnut and rich, confectionary sweet praline are a nice addition later in the glass. Hints of more patisserie sweetness late in the glass form a comfortable groove to relax in. The empty glass smells of rich, well-worn leather, seashells, switchgrass, and trodden soil.

Palate: At first sip, this whiskey speaks in whispers. Hurried glances and hushed secrets abound in the library of the Irish annals contained within this bottle. I picture a shy girl sitting at a table, momentarily looking up from her book to make quick eye contact before retreating to her pages. A couple is sitting in the corner, whispering sweet nothings far out of earshot. Subtle peach and a light sugar cookie are the only impressions that are registered on the palate. Sipping again incrementally improves the volume and impression; subtle grape skins join the quiet allure of introversion. My third taste reminds me that this is, in fact, whiskey. I find the delicate feeling of biting into fresh, sun-warmed bread pulled from the picnic basket on a warm summer's day. A larger sip and swish offers distinct clementine sweetness, with all the stringy pith never becoming a nuisance. Subtle, lingering milk chocolate fills the mind with snacking desires. My last sip is just as delicate as the rest of the glass, with an easy breeze of vanilla, plum, and peach slowly drifting across the tongue. The finish is medium but nearly imperceptible, as biscotti and sugar cookie tones provide a soothing sweetness.

TL;DR: A subtle sip clearly designed to get lost in on a warm, comfortable day


Rating: 4/5

This is a beautifully versatile whiskey. I could see myself sharing it peacefully in good company as well as spending an introspective afternoon with it alone. From pithless peace to sensuous snacking, this whiskey proved to be an endless treat for me. I look forward to including it in this year's blind tasting of Irish whiskey to see how it fares against some other legendary likenesses. If you're really feeling the Irish spirit, pair this pour with the song "Silver Seed" by Lisa O'Neill.

Bushmills 16 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey



bottom of page