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Matured in three different types of cask, each of which contributes extra nuances to what is destined to become a classic Irish malt. Perfect as an after-dinner dram.
Ladle of Contents
Whiskey Review and Tasting Notes:
Nose: The initial aroma of the nose is light and wispy, and it opens with a very weak sense of grain, vaguely reminiscent of a bourbon. Clear grass notes and a hint of sawdust grow as the glass breathes, and with greater air, a hint of barley takes form. There is a lingering sense of cigar or pipe smoke at the very back, and just a whisper of a sweet grass and floral nose, ranging from lavender to chamomile.
Neat: A soft spirit reveals itself when poured at room temperature, and the Bushmills 16 year old Very Old has a soft nose of sweet grain. This softness fades on the initial sips and reveals a hard, grainy core, which is at once similar in nature to a Scotch but markedly dryer. A restrained sweetness lingers for a moment in the finish, but fades to reveal slightly burning grain and an underlying hint of pepper and even earthiness.
On the Side: Great in a Laphroaig 10 years old chaser, this spirit enhanced the peatiness of the Laphroaig without masking it, though there was little sense of its own identity in the blend.
Although it is a hybrid whiskey, containing both Irish and Scottish components, this very old did not go well at all as an addition to a peaty Scotch. Explaining this in more detail would require another 5 pages, and it is best left to the other reviewers.
Other Review Notes:
It might surprise some that the nose on this very old is so light, given the strength of the grain, the tobacco and the peat, but that is the nature of 16 year old single malts, as the aromas and tastes of the final product slowly show themselves over time.
In comparison to the 12 year old, the nose on this very old is spicier and the grain is much more pronounced, though it too also improves over time.
The nose is almost stunning in its softness, and this softness makes for a very nice introduction to the world of Irish whiskey.
An excellent whiskey for use in blending as it will add body.
Appearance: aged copper with golden edges.
Nose: sweet, grainy with slight tobacco overtones
Neat: grainy and dry
On the Rocks: warm, sweet with pepper
Finish: bold, dry
Nose: Pungent. While the nose on the 12 year old is wispy and delicate, the nose on this 16 year is powerful, robust and almost a direct contradiction of the nose on the 12 year. High notes of tobacco and sawdust open the nose on the 16 year, and after a few minutes of breathing, a distinct grainy scent develops, along with floral notes.
The nose is very similar in nature to a Scotch, and is surprisingly thick when compared to the 12 year old whiskey.
Whiskey Review and Tasting Notes:
Neat: The nose persists in the mouth, and the neat whisky reveals a softness that cannot be described as anything other than fullness. The finish on the Bushmills 16 year old is yet another contradiction, with a soft beginning but a rough finish, almost as if a strong wind passed over the mouth and dried it out, leaving it dry and even bitter.
The finish lingers for a moment longer than the 12 year old, but reveals the same underlying coriander, smoke and anise, though it is nearly overpowered by a rough grain.
The initial sip reveals a sweet start, which is immediately followed by a strong, bitter and dry finish that lingers for a short while and slowly builds on the tongue, until settling into a feeling of warmth and spice. The overall feeling is that of a strong, full and smooth honeyed taste.
There is no hint of fruit or floral, but there is a strong essence of tobacco and the distinct power of peat. (Bushmills malts contain between 5-7% of Islay and Highland peat, and even this mild peatiness was lost on its own, so blending is definitely recommended.)
On the Rocks: This spirit is too hard to put on ice and enjoy neat, in much the same way as Scotch. The 16 year old already has a mouth-burning quality, and putting it on the rocks takes the experience to another level. An ice cube takes the experience down a notch, though two could have you looking for a chair. Three is likely to make you visit the dentist.
This whiskey was tried in both single malt and blend form, with the best results coming in the form of single malt. (putting it in a blend distracted from the true character of the whiskey)