Bushmills Irish Whiskey has announced the release of its limited-edition 30 Year Old New American Oak Cask single malt, which will be exclusive to ARI through The Irish Whiskey Collection stores at Dublin and Cork airports. Only 100 bottles are to be made available in 2020 with 332 to follow in 2021.

Bushmills hosted a special virtual tasting for media partners (including The Moodie Davitt Report) on Thursday to mark the launch, with the event led by Master Blender Helen Mulholland and Brand Ambassador Lauren McMullan.

The release is the highest aged reference so far in The Causeway Collection, a series of rare cask-finished single malt whiskeys from Bushmills, the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery

The release is the highest aged reference so far in The Causeway Collection, a series of rare cask finished single malt whiskeys. The 30 Year Old New American Oak Cask was first matured for 14 years in oloroso sherry butts and bourbon barrels. Bushmills then finished this single malt in new American oak casks for 16 years. Non chill-filtered, it was bottled in September 2020 at cask strength.

Mulholland said: “It’s a privilege to work with such rare whiskeys in The Causeway Collection. This 30 Year Old New American Oak Cask, our oldest single malt to date, is a truly special Irish single malt. Maturing it for 16 years in the new American oak casks has allowed the sweetness to gradually soften, making it creamier and velvety smooth in texture. I love its tropical fruit notes and hints of spiced coconut alongside the warm and reassuring wood notes.

“I’m immensely proud of how we’ve been able to create such sensational waves of flavour in a 30 year old whiskey. Like the whole Causeway Collection, it’s a celebration of our passion for single malts, our rare and unique casks and our 400 years of whiskey-making heritage.”

Introducing a new expression: Bushmills Master Blender Helen Mulholland (right) and Brand Ambassador Lauren McMullan bring the global travel retail exclusive 30 Year Old to life for media guests

Bushmills shared an elegant tasting pack with media guests for Thursday’s virtual tasting, housing a miniature of the 30 Year Old, a tasting glass, a barley stalk and even water taken from St. Columb’s Rill close to the distillery and used in its whiskey making

Proximo Head of Global Travel Retail Roy Summers added: “We are delighted to announce the launch of the 30 Year Old New American Oak Cask as a global travel retail exclusive at Dublin and Cork airports. Releasing this special single malt into global travel retail is a testament to our commitment to the market and an example of how we are always looking to give travellers something special they can’t find anywhere else. For travellers to Dublin and Cork Airports, what better option than the oldest single malt release from Bushmills, the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery?”

The 2020 Causeway Collection features an array of finishes in Cognac, wine, fortified wine and the latest expression in new American Oak casks, with distribution in nine markets worldwide.

The brand owner said that the Collection took inspiration from the nearby Giant’s Causeway, famed for its hexagonal basalt columns, each unique but locked together, forming a series of steps “much like the expressions in The Causeway Collection”. It added: “Bushmills has given these rare casks unprecedented years of rest, decades in some cases, creating unique waves of flavour every bit as dramatic as the Northern Irish coastline.”

The limited-edition 30 Year Old New American Oak Cask will be on sale from 17 December, bottled at cask strength (48.4% ABV) and priced at €700 RRP for 700ml.

Q&A with Master Blender Helen Mulholland

All the whiskeys used in The Causeway Collection have been crafted by Helen Mulholland through her near 30-year career at The Old Bushmills Distillery. Several of the whiskeys were laid down during her internship at the distillery in the early 1990s.

She has since gone on to be the first woman inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame and, last month, was awarded a Chairman’s Award by Drinks Ireland/Irish Whiskey Association for her contribution to the development of the Irish whiskey industry and category.

Bushmills Master Blender Helen Mulholland: “I am a custodian and the time will come to pass it on. I am walking in the footsteps of legends”

How did you become Bushmills Master Blender and what is life like in the role?

Helen Mulholland: There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best job in the world. I studied food technology in university and as part of that course I was lucky enough to get a placement here. It is a magical place. I have since spent my life working with these casks to turn this wonderful spirit into whisky. We have the largest stock of malt whisky in Ireland and the largest stock of aged malt whisky so we are very lucky. Every day you are learning and picking up something new. Everything we do is about working with nature, from the water from St. Columb’s Rill, which runs from the Bush river, or our malted barley.

How would you describe the Bushmills DNA?

It is all about the lovely sweet flavour which you pick up straight away in our stillhouse. I pick up those flavours and enhance them with our casks. I link all of those flavours together so they become more rounded over time, and they are layered with the different flavours. But it still have to be recognisably triple distilled Bushmills.

How did you come to create the Causeway Collection?

People have been asking us for a long time when we would create a cask strength collection and that is what we have done here. I also wanted a collection, not one single whiskey. It is Bushmills in its purest form.

I have worked for years on this [the 30 Year Old], watching these casks carefully and waiting for the perfect moment to arrive. At 30 years this [expression] is my life’s work. I am delighted to have my signature on a bottle for the first time with this release. But I am only a custodian and the time will come to pass it on. I am walking in the footsteps of legends.

What is the thinking behind the exclusive release in travel retail?

It’s all about innovation for different markets. We do need to create new and interesting things for GTR so once we start travelling again, this is something people will see that is new, that is exciting and it shows how we value the travel retail trade. This has been a difficult year but we should be providing newness so people have something to look forward to. And it is something you can find only in Ireland, which is important to visitors too.

How much potential do you see in Irish whiskey at the luxury end and do you plan further similar releases?

There is a market for this kind of whiskey and premiumisation is important. There is potential in the aged malts all around premium packaging and beautiful whiskey for a special occasion and we will continue to do that.

The dedicated launch through ARI at Dublin and Cork airports underlines the commitment to travel retail, says Proximo Spirits

Tasting notes: 30 Year Old New American Oak Cask single malt

Colour: Rich gold

Nose: An immediate rich vanilla intensity, followed by warm wood spice and tropical fruit notes.

Taste: Smooth and sweet, with vanilla and chocolate interweaving on the tongue, and a warming spiced coconut. The gentle wood note then reappears, evoking the 30 years spent in oak casks.

Finish: Exceptionally long with toasted oak and sweet vanilla lingering on the palate.