Discover Old Bushmills Distillery – Over 400 years of Excellence

Updated On: November 08, 2023

Old Bushmills Distillery

Bushmills Distillery is a fabulous location to tour if you’re a fan of whiskey or a history lover! It is the Home of Bushmills Whiskey. The old Bushmills Distillery was granted a licence by King James the first in 1608 to distil whiskey – hence its special 1608 bottle.

Bushmills is considered one of the oldest distilleries in the world due to this license and it is in fine company with other distilleries around Ireland for the name of the oldest distillery in the world.

Take a tour of Bushmills Distillery

If you’re tempted by a Bushmills factory tour – we can highly recommend it. The video above shows the bar just off the Bushmills Distillery Shop where gifts are sold. why not consider a tour of distilleries in Ireland – there would be worse ways to spend a few days! 🙂

All of the whiskey that is bottled under the Bushmills name is produced at the Bushmills Distillery and it uses water drawn from Saint Columb’s Rill which is a tributary of the River Bush. At first, people might think that it is weird to visit this place as a tourist destination, but since it is considered one of the oldest distilleries in the world, there is plenty of history to uncover.

In this article we will discuss:

  • The History of Old Bushmills Distillery
  • FAQ’s about visiting the Old Distillery
  • The Town of Bushmills
  • Rare Irish Whiskey – Bushmills Causeway Collection
  • Our favourite Bushmills Cocktail!
Bushmills Distillery, Bushmills, Northern Ireland
Bushmills Distillery, Bushmills, Northern Ireland

History of Old Bushmills Distillery

As we have mentioned, Bushmills is the world’s oldest whiskey distillery, granted a licence in 1608. Centuries of experience and craft have been passed down for generations, and the distillery is still going strong today.

The Distillery shares its name with the village it is located in. Families, friends and neighbours have worked together in the distillery since its creation. Here are some interesting points in the history of the distillery.

Difficult Times at the Distillery – Closures, Taxes and a Fire

While the Whiskey licence was granted in 1608, the Old Bushmills Distillery Company was established in 1784 by Hugh Anderson. Times were tough in the early 19th century and the distillery experienced periods of closure.

In the 1850s the British Government imposed a barley tax on distilleries. Malted barley had a worldwide reputation for making the finest pure malt Irish whiskey, however this tax forced many distilleries to use corn or inferior grains to produce their whiskey.

Bushmills was one of the few exceptions at the time who continued to distil single malt whiskey – and they still does to this day. Single malt whiskey by definition is a whiskey that was made at a single distillery using only malted barley.

In 1860 James McColgan and Patrick Corrigan bought the distillery. 25 years later, the original distillery was destroyed by a fire. It was swiftly rebuilt however, and the distillery is thought to be in continuous operation since then.

The SS Bushmills

In 1890 the SS Bushmills made its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to deliver Bushmills Whiskey to America. The now international brand delivered Antrim’s finest whiskey to New York and Philadelphia before heading on to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and more.

The Prohibition

By the early 20th century, America had become a vital market for many Irish whiskey distilleries, so the 1920 Prohibition created difficult conditions for businesses. Bushmills managed to survive this difficult period.

It is reported that Bushmills distillery had eagerly anticipated the end of the Prohibition and when the word came to Ireland that the act had been appealed, Bushmills allegedly set sail for Chicago with the biggest shipment of whiskey ever to leave an Irish port at the time.

Bushmills rise to fame

By the 1950’s, Bushmills fame as the world’s oldest distillery had grown, making it a constant in pop culture during Hollywood’s Golden Age by featuring in many classic films and TV shows as well as iconic advertising campaigns.

The Bar at Bushmills Distillery

The 360 degree video above shows the bar just off the Bushmills Distillery Shop where gifts are sold.

Frequently Asked Questions – Bushmills Distillery

What is Bushmills Distillery’s Website:

Where is Bushmills Distillery?

Bushmills Distillery Postcode & Address: 2 Distillery Rd, Bushmills, County Antrim BT57 8XH, Northern Ireland

When Does Bushmills Distillery Gift Shop Open?

Gift Shop Opening Hours:

  • Monday – Friday: 10am until 4pm
  • Saturday – Sunday: Closed

How can I book a Bushmills Distillery Tour?

Distillery Tours are available to book online. Groups of more than 12 people are subject to availability. You can email [email protected] for more information.

The standard distillery tour starts at £15, and the premium tour + tasting starts at £40.

Here is more information that you should know before booking a tour:

  • The distillery may not always be viewed in a full operational capacity. This is due to varying cycles of production
  • Children under 8 years of age are not permitted to join the guided tour.

Bushmills Village

Settled on the banks of the river Bush, the Bushmills Distillery has been operating in a small village of the same name for over 400 years. Locals believe that hand crafting small batches is the only way to produce beautifully smooth tasting Irish Whiskey.

The name of the village derives from an old but large watermill that was built on the river Bush in the early 17th century.

Why not take a short tour of the town by watching our video below!

Explore Bushmills Town in Co. Antrim!

Rare Irish Whiskey – Bushmills Causeway Collection

The location of the distillery is quite unique; the River Bush runs from the Antrim Hills, through the same type of basalt rock that makes up the Giant’s Causeway, before its tributary river, Saint Columbs Rill passes through the distillery. This, combined with the short distance of 4km between the distillery and the famous Causeway, has inspired the ‘Causeway Collection’.

This limited collection is comprised of the 2002 VERMOUTH CASK and the 2012 POMEROL CASK. 10 rare releases were created by master blender Alex Thomas, however these two drinks were exclusive to the island of Ireland.

Bushmills even collaborated with singer-songwriter Joshua Burnside for the occasion. The Lisburn Native composed ‘Seeker’, inspired by Bushmills, his craft, and their mutual pursuit of perfection.

The Seekers – Joshua Burnside

Bushmills Cocktails

Irish Iced Coffee

Are you a fan of iced coffee? Or a good Irish Coffee using Bushmills Whiskey? How about combining the two to make an amazing cocktail! This recipe is intended for adults over the age of 18. Drink responsibly.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 30mls Bushmills Black Bush Whiskey
  • 20mls Mourne Dew Distillery “The Pooka” Hazelnut Poitin
  • 35mls fresh espresso
  • 20mls sugar syrup

You can watch Brian from Home Restaurant in Belfast explain the process of how to make this drink.

Irish Iced Coffee using Bushmills Whiskey

Final Thoughts

Have you ever visited the old Bushmills Distillery? Let us know what you thought of it.

Thank you for reading our article! You may enjoy related articles to Bushmills including:

Bushmills Travel Guide: The Town, Distillery, Castle and Causeway | The Complete Co. Antrim Travel Guide | The Giants CausewayDunluce Castle

If you visit the distillery, you are only a stones throw away from other amazing tourist destinations that we have linked above. We have also added an Antrim travel guide to help you explore everything that the county has to offer while you are there. You may also find our Northern Ireland travel guide and Belfast travel guide useful!

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