Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Bushmills. This in no case, by our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the purchase link at the bottom of this review, our site receives a small sponsorship payment which helps support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
In honor of the sixth and final season of the Peaky Blinders television series, Bushmills released a special Irish whiskey crafted in the style that would have graced pubs in its day and dubbed it Bushmills Prohibition Recipe Irish Whiskey. If you’re unfamiliar with the BBC/Netflix crime drama, it’s set in Birmingham, England, between the World Wars. The title refers to the criminal gang led by the Shelby family, of Irish and Roma descent. The final season aired on June 10e, shortly after the release of the rated whiskey. You can watch all six seasons on Netflix in the United States.
If you are unfamiliar with Ireland’s Old Bushmills Distillery, it was founded in 1608 and is considered the oldest whiskey distillery in the world. The name Bushmills comes from the Bush River, the source of the water, and from the mills in the area that process barley. They pride themselves on using only 100% malted barley for their mash. This is notable among Irish distillers. The use of alternative cereals such as maize became widespread from the 1850s in Ireland. At the time, the Crown instituted a barley tax increase that targeted distillers. Rather than change their recipe to save money, Bushmills stuck to their 250-year heritage and took on the rising costs. For a deep dive into their basic lineup, I suggest my colleague’s recent review of their core releases. In 2015, Casa Cuervo bought Bushmills, which, as its name suggests, is also the home of Jose Cuervo.
So why create an Irish whiskey for a TV show in Birmingham? Besides the family’s Irish heritage, gang leader Tommy Shelby is often pictured enjoying a glass or two of Irish whiskey, including Bushmills, which would have been a common offering at the time. This drink is served at the pub he acquires, the Garrison. With a back design of blue tinted glass and an exposed cork stopper, the Bushmills Prohibition Recipe Irish Whiskey bottle would blend right in with the tray.
To recreate 1910s-style whiskey, the distillery crafted Bushmills Prohibition Recipe Irish Whiskey using Prohibition-era methodologies: unchill-filtered, cask-proof bottled (92), and aged in old bourbon casks. The whiskey is a blend of three, four and five year old whiskeys. Leaving aside his opinion on merch-related TV shows, it’s a fun way to experience Bushmills designed like 100 years ago without losing any serious pieces at auction. Visit the Bushmills website dedicated to this version for receiptswhich are riffs on cocktails from the prohibition era.
Tasting Notes: Bushmills Prohibition Recipe Irish Whiskey
Vital Stats: Aged a minimum of three years in ex-bourbon barrels, 46% ABV, mash bill: 100% malted barley, SRP $29.99/750ml bottle.
Appearance: This is pale yellow with a slight golden undertone.
Nose: There is a pronounced mix of tropical fruits on the nose alongside notes of overripe pear, yellow plum, sweet corn and caramel sauce. It is very fruity and spicy. Aeration helps to bring out notes of dried berries and spices with a slight juniper quality. Ripe, yellow banana notes dominate, almost bordering on banana candy.
Palace: On the palate, the whiskey is slightly fruity, with sickening notes of ripe bananas and wholemeal bread. The texture is soft and unctuous with a slight peppery note. I wouldn’t guess it was 46% ABV; it reads much lower. There are, as expected, heavy banana notes on the fruity finish as the whiskey gently evaporates in the back of the mouth. It is a smooth and easy drink.