Bushmills 25 year old & 30 year old single malts


Pricing. It’s certainly a hot topic right now. More and more of us are finding life a bit of pinch. Our currency of choice is no longer going as far as it once did. As such it seems to be a common theme among the whisky folk that we are either spending less and consuming what we have built up in our personal whisky bunkers or we are becoming much more focused on where we are spending our whisky hobby allocations.

That stands to reason. We are, as we are frequently told by news channels of whatever medium on a daily basis, living through a cost of living crisis. Inflation in the UK stands at just over 10% as I write this, and it’s not just an UK problem, it’s global. 

Our hobby is not immune to this. Prices are steadily climbing, some (I’m looking at you Diageo) have been stratospheric. Then there are those like we will look at today that to me are positively mental. The whiskies we’re looking at today come with frankly eye watering price tags. £790 and £1900 respectively. Cost of living crisis? Jose Cuervo mustn’t have got the memo. In fact Jose, you’ve just made the Diageo World Order look like a benevolent dictatorship in terms of pricing.

These are price levels well beyond my budget and I’m not sure even if I had the money I could ever bring myself to drop that amount of cash on a bottle. But one thing is for sure, at these numbers the liquid inside has to be stellar to warrant anyone parting with their readies. Let’s get on to the details will we?

First up is the new Bushmills 25 year old core release. This spends around the first 4years of its life maturing in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks before spending 21 years in a 1st fill ruby port pipe. Bottled at 46% and non chill filtered I couldn’t find any info as to whether this is natural colour. Yours for just £790.

Second up is the elder statesmen of the Bushmills core range, the 30 year old single malt. Matured in a the typical house style for the Bushmills malts of bourbon and sherry casks, this time for at least 14 years before being recasked into 1st fill PX casks for a further 16 years. Again this bottled at 46% and is non chill filtered with no indication as to whether the dreaded e150 fake tan has been applied. The entry fee…..only £1900.

Tasting time.

Bushmills 25 year old 

Nose: Immediately I’m struck by old oak and fresh leather. Root beer, cherry and blackcurrant chewits. Orange zest with orchard fruit and toasted almonds. Time brings milk chocolate and caramel sauce. Vanilla fudge too.

Palate: This has a nice mouthfeel no doubt helped by the 46% abv. Brown sugar, marzipan, milk chocolate. There’s a little peppery spice mid palate along with cherry menthol and a healthy amount of fresh plum. Flavour development does come across a little stinted though.

Finish: medium length with chocolate cherry liqueurs that segues into a slightly bitter note right at the end.

Score: 5 out of 10

Bushmills 30 year old

Nose: Sweet PX raisin notes straight away. Below the raisins the nose is surprisingly fresh and vibrant with fresh ginger, orange segments and melon. Then come darker notes of licorice and date as well as cinnamon and dark chocolate. Antique polish and a hint of rose water too.

Palate: That PX sweetness is delivered as expected. Syrupy sweet with intense raisin and date flavours. Crème brûlée, dark chocolate and stem ginger cookies along with toasted macadamia and hazelnuts. None of the fresh fruit from the nose makes it through to the palate.

Finish: Medium length with syrupy raisins, ginger spice and dark chocolate bitterness tempers the sweetness.

Score: 6 out of 10

Overall: I can pretty much already guess that any other text based review sites who have tried these will have waxed lyrical about them…..that’s the price of freebies. Of course you should know by now that that’s not how it works here at Causeway Towers. Of course I didn’t get these samples through ‘official’ means as I think it’s fair to say I’m off the Bushmills official ‘good boy’ list.

As it stands both these drams have been marked down by a point straight away due to their exorbitant and for me, nonsensical pricing. So if pricing doesn’t come into your scoring equation add a point to each.

Starting with the 25 year old I thought I’d compare it with the 16 year old as it’s the most similar in DNA in the Bushmills family. There are differences obviously with the 16 spending roughly 15 years in the bourbon/sherry combo before a further year in a port pipe. It’s also bottled at 40% and is chill filtered.

To be fair the Bushmills 16 isn’t my favourite from the core range prior to the release of the 25 and 30 year olds but I always found it to be solid. In my opinion the 25 years old doesn’t up the ante enough. It’s a perfectly fine dram but you could buy 8 bottles of the 16 year old for the price of one on the 25year olds. And I can find similar flavour profiles in much cheaper whiskies often executed much better, Dingle’s Single Malt Batch 6 or the Tyrconnell 10 year old Port Finish being good examples.

Then we come to the 30 year old. Again this is a pretty fine dram but with an entry fee of £1900 (£95 per 35ml measure) it’s kind of hard to get really excited about. Sadly the presentation of the product wow’s more than the liquid when in reality it should be the other way around. But I suppose that’s how it is these days, looks are everything and inner quality is 2nd best.

Having a look on Master of Malt for reference I checked out what £1900 would buy you for 30 year old Scotch single malts…..here goes, Tomatin 30 year old £409.95, Bunnahabhain 30 year old £489, Glenfarclas 30 year old £650 or a Benriach 30 year old for £625. Pretty decently official bottling options I’m sure you’d agreed. 

I can’t figure out who these are aimed at. Collectors? I’m not so sure, they are core releases and will seemingly be an annual release a la Midleton Very Rare. Drinkers? Definitely not me or potentially 90% of my limited readership. As the prices above suggest the value is in Scotch.

What’s weirder to me is how these prices compare to the Causeway Collection. As I stood aghast in the distillery gift shop what made me chuckle was that sitting beside the new 25 year old was a 1995 Malaga release from the Causeway Collection, technically 24 years old but just shy of the quarter century mark. It’s also cask strength and a relatively small outturn. The price…£400. Pricey yes and at the very top end of what I’m willing to pay, but a quality dram and makes the 25 year olds asking price frankly laughable.

Anyway it’s been nice to try them but I don’t think this liquid will pass my lips again any time soon.

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