Project Whisk(e)y: Black Bush

bushmills-black-busk-irish-whiskey__76468_zoomLast week we went through some of the basics when it comes to how whisk(e)y is made and what the differences are between Irish and Scottish whisk(e)y, so now that you guys have nailed that part, let’s get to the fun part shall we?

The first whiskey we are going to taste together is one of my favourite Irish whiskeys of all time, Bushmills Black Bush.

I’ve chosen this specific wizzo because at the moment it’s one of whiskey’s best kept secrets, which is awesome because it means the price is ridiculous (about R280 from Makro) considering how amazing the whiskey tastes.

Bushmills Black Bush is a blended whiskey. This means it contains a mix of both grain and malt whiskey.


Malt whisky is made exclusively from malted barley in a batch process using pot stills. This means that the distillery will make one batch of malt whisky at a time, reset everything and then make the next batch.

Malt whisky is more expensive than grain whisky to produce and typically has a lot more character than grain whisky.

Grain whisky can be made from any number of starches including maize, wheat or rye. It is produced in a continuous column still, meaning a lot more can be produced at a lower cost than malt whisky.

Grain whisky is much lighter in character than malt whisky and typically contains much sweeter notes.

Master blenders blend grain whisky with malt whisky to soften the flavour profile of malt whisky and produce a spirit that is more accessible to the masses.



As a general rule, people find blended whiskies easier on the palate than single malts and blended whiskies are a lot more affordable.

If you’re drinking an Irish blended whiskey you can pretty much guarantee what you’re going to taste is going to be light on the palate with delicious sweet notes on the finish and is not going to overpower your senses with peatiness or smokiness.

So please join me in cracking open a bottle of some of Ireland’s best whiskey while I play a little Snow Patrol in the background (another notable Irish export).



People always ask me what the right way to drink whisk(e)y is and I tell them all the same thing: drink it however you like it.

I mean hell, you paid for it. Smash it with Creme Soda if that’s your thang, skies the limit!

However, if you want to TASTE a whisk(e)y, I always take the first sip neat in a whisky tumbler, let the full force of the whisk(e)y hit my palate, then I add a tiny measure of water to open up the aromas and soften the alcohol burn.

The Irish call adding a dash of water to your whiskey “the opening of the rose” while the Scottish call it “THE WAKING OF THE DRAGON”, which is a great summary of Irish vs Scottish whisk(e)y if I ever heard one.

So that’s what we’re going to do with our Black Bush.



Pour it neat into a tumbler. Pause for a second to admire it’s deep amber colour. This is the direct result of maturing for up to seven years in Spanish oloroso sherry casks and sweet bourbon barrels, which is what gives Black Bush its distinctive rich, dried-fruity nose.

Nose that badboy. Go ahead, breathe it all in. What are we looking for here? A little honey, a little toffee sweetness, a subtle hint of smoke (more so than you’d normally find in an Irish whiskey).

Now take a sip. Don’t be afraid to let the whisky wash all over the inside of your mouth to get its full flavour and hold it there for a good few seconds. It’s been maturing in a barrel for seven years, the least you can do is give it a couple of seconds on your tongue.

Now swallow and let the flavour of the Black Bush wash over you.



What are you getting? A little bit of spice there? Sure, there’s a little spice there, no doubt about that. What else?

Some honey / cinnamon on the tip of the tongue? Yes siree, we are definitely getting some sweeter notes coming through nicely. What else?

Some Christmas-cakey flavours? Yep, right again! A bit of maltiness there on the finish? My man, you’re NAILING IT!

A bit of sweaty saddle there on the centre of the tongue? Umm… a little far out but ok, I’ll allow it…



See, that’s the great thing about tasting whisk(e)y! If you’re tasting aunt Mildred’s panties, you’re tasting aunt Mildred’s panties! You can never be wrong about what you’re tasting because you’re tasting it and your palate is uniquely yours.

So kick back, relax and pour another Black Bush, but this time add a little water to really let those sweeter, fruitier notes come alive.

Black Bush also works amazingly well with a mixer – throw a little soda in that badboy, go ahead. It’s also great with ginger ale.

That brings us to the conclusion of our first tasting. Great job people, I’ll see you all next week for our next foray into the world of wizzo.


5 Responses to “Project Whisk(e)y: Black Bush”

  1. 1 Sean
    August 30, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Nice one Slick! I agree with your picture on what happens every time you drink whisky, a choir of angels ha ha! Will grab a bottle of this when next I’m at the bottle store. So, today.

    • August 30, 2012 at 10:50 am

      Glad you liked the write-up dude! And yeah, I’m interested in hearing what your thoughts on the ol’ Black Bush are.

      I’ve become more of a scotch drinker of late, but still, this whiskey rocks my world every time.


  2. 3 phool
    September 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Loving this feature Slick. Speaking of value for money have you tried Black Bottle? For a blend at that price I think it’s amazing and has a great peaty-ness to it. IMHO it’s the best bang for your buck blend out there.

    • September 7, 2012 at 11:33 am

      1 x bottle of Black Bottle in the shopping bag tonight.
      I’ve also heard it’s a really decent blend for what you pay. At the moment Vat 69 is my go-to bottle for a cheap, drinkable blend – can Black Bottle knock Vat 69 off that pedestal?
      Only time. Will tell.

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