Causeway Collection from Bushmills labelled 'rare moment in time'
A NEW series of limited-edition single malt whiskeys from the Old Bushmills Distillery has been described by master blender Helen Mulholland "a rare moment in time".
Inspired by the Giant’s Causeway, it is the first-ever release of ultra-rare cask-strength malts by the distillery and marks a departure from the tried-and-tested.
And according to Helen, who began her career at Bushmills as a student nearly 30 years ago, the new series is "just the beginning".
The two Causeway Collection releases are the 2008 Muscatel Cask and the 1995 Malaga Cask.
Between them there are less than 4,000 bottles available combined, so they are likely to quickly become a collectors' item despite their price tags.
“Innovation is at the heart of what we do at Bushmills, and these new products are exactly that," says Helen.
"We're giving something back in what has been a difficult year. And the exciting thing for us is that there is more to come in this unique collection."
While whiskey lovers may have become accustomed to the 10-, 16- and 21-year-old Bushmills brands, the Causeway Collection is a completely different sensory journey of sight, smell and taste.
The 2008 Muscatel Cask was first aged for eight years in oloroso sherry butts and bourbon barrels and then matured in rare muscatel casks for a further four years.
Permeated with wine made from the aromatic muscat grape, the muscatel cask imparts deep waves of flavour with luscious ripe fruit notes and a smooth sweetness.
Bottled at 56.4 per cent ABV, it is being sold at £95 for a 700ml bottle, and just 1,454 bottles are available.
Only 2,491 bottles of the 1995 Malaga Cask have gone on sale (it'll set you back £390), and it is bottled at 53.5 per cent ABV.
Aged quietly for more than 10 years in oloroso sherry butts and bourbon barrels before further maturation for an extraordinary 14 years in Malaga casks, the triple wood maturation bestows notes of sweet spiced plum, toasted vanilla and pinches of coffee grounds on this golden spirit.
Helen added: “The world has been crying out for something like this, and it is a bit special.
“The launch represents a bold new step for Bushmills, one that not only honours the giants and generations before us, but also the incomparable natural landscape in which it’s forged.
"We work hard to make sure we introduce new variants for whiskey lovers, and these two new exclusive releases showcase our rare and unique casks and honour our 400-year north coast provenance.”
Helen admitted that bidding farewell to the casks in which the the 2008 and 1995 whiskeys matured "was almost like letting your children go."
And her promise that there is more to come in the Causeway Collection is underlined by the fact that the Old Bushmills Distillery currently has more than 80,000 barrels of whiskey (16 million litres) "put away" across its extended warehouse facilities.
According to its latest accounts, it currently has £118.8 million of stocks sitting in its warehouses.
Among this is more than £22 million of whiskey maturing within a year and £89.8m worth of other stock which will mature in future years, including its famous 10-, 16-, and 21-year-old single malts.