"Whiskey is by far the most popular of
all remedies that won't cure a cold." - Jerry Vale
My first encounter with Bushmills Black Bush was a pleasant one. My parents had come up to Portland, OR to visit my wife and I. On one of the days, while the girls spent a day in NW Portland, my dad and I indubitably went to have a cigar at El Gaucho’s cigar bar. Only recently, at the time, had I begun to investigate whiskey in a more thorough manner, and on that day I just sort of went out on a limb. So many choices filled the menu I held in my hands and I wasn’t really familiar with any of them. With the waiter’s eyes peering down at me in my sunken leather chair I nervously blurted out, “I’ll take the Black Bush please.” Fortunately I made the right choice.
And as time passed I somehow managed, unintentionally, to keep choosing Irish whiskeys, Redbreast 12 Year Old being the first whiskey I really took to. Only now, as I keep coming back to Black Bush, do I realize how lucky I had been with many of my first tasting. Now I don’t think it is necessary, much less recommend, for one to start exploring whiskey by choosing ultra-premium bottles at the get go, but to avoid being “unlucky” I would suggest starting off by getting recommendations (personally or through reviews) from someone who knows whiskey. Though sampling Jack Daniel’s Old Number 7, for example, can be beneficial, it is not going to get you very far, nor is it worth shedding blood, sweat, and tears over. I suggest starting with a good quality mid-range whiskey from which you can then develop a bench mark, and then from there you can compare preceding whiskey.
Price: Around $29.99 for a 750ml bottle.
Packaging/Label: There is something about Bushmills iconic square bottle with a small stubby neck at the top and the 1608 at the bottom that I just love. It feels great in the hand and you have a lot of control in pouring. The Black Bush label seems to change more often than needed, it currently works nicely with the name and color of the whiskey.
Alcohol Content: 40% alcohol by volume, 80 proof.
Color: The name says it all, a dark Carmel color which is partially due to the sherry cask it is aged in. Nevertheless there is certainly caramel color in this (E150a), but not very much.
Nose: Strong floral character which is reminiscent of most Irish whiskeys, but Black Bush has a much larger range with notes of fruitcake, raisin, pear and green apple.
Tasting: Really great tasting whiskey. On the introduction the flavors round out very nicely on the palette. Reminds me of a flourless chocolate cake, or some kind of light chocolate mousse with an overriding fruitiness and nuttiness – the idea of fruitcake still stands strong as it was in the nose. The spiciness comes on very substantially on the mid-palette, but in a gentle way, not a knock in the face and it develops into a slightly salted buttery and earthy note which transform into a crisp oak finish - wonderfully complex.
On Adding Water: I would highly suggest not adding water to this. Irish whiskeys, especially when bottled at 80 proof, are quite fine flavored, fine natured whiskeys and they tend to drown quickly with the addition of water.
Conclusion: This is a great Bushmills, and a great representative for an Irish whiskey in general. Defiantly for sipping neat, no water, and I wouldn’t suggest using this in a cocktail.