Irish artists collaborate in new project for Bushmills

Irish spoken word artist, Stephen James Smith at the Old Bushmills Distillery.

DUBLIN-born spoken word artist Stephen James Smith has collaborated with Irish musician Kormac for a specially commissioned project for Bushmills Irish Whiskey.

The poet and playwright has penned a piece inspired by Bushmills distillery and the north Antrim coast-line.

The poem, put to the music of renown Irish DJ turned composer Kormac, has been turned into a video with photography from photographer Ruth Medjber, best known for her work photographing some of the world's biggest rock bands.

The project was commissioned as part of the latest release from Bushmills Causeway Collection, a selection of ultra-rare single malt whiskeys.

It comes as the latest set of company accounts published by Bushmills revealed an estimated £130 million of whiskey is currently maturing in casks within the expansive warehouses on the north coast.

This year’s Causeway Collection features 12 new releases to be launched worldwide across eight markets, and includes two bottlings exclusively released for the island of Ireland, the ‘2011 Sauternes Cask’, and a ‘1995 Marsala Cask’ - aged in rare Marsala casks for an unprecedented 15 years.

Bushmills master distiller Colum Egan, said: “All the whiskeys used in The Causeway Collection have been expertly crafted and cared for in a unique whiskey-making tradition passed from generation to generation for more than 400 years here at The Old Bushmills Distillery.

Bushmills master distiller, Colum Egan.

“The Causeway Collection celebrates our extremely rare and unique cask finishes, our passion for single malts and honours our rich heritage.

“It’s a privilege to work with such rare liquid, these special cask-finished whiskeys really are our greatest treasures,” he added.

“Both the 2011 Sauternes Cask and the 1995 Marsala Casks are sensational whiskeys that stand with the best of Irish single malts, giants in their own right.

“We are delighted to bring these exclusive releases to our fans across the island of Ireland.”

Bushmills coopers, Alistair and Chris Kane, photographed by Ruth Medjber.

Bushmills by Stephen James Smith

Someday you should walk the causeway route along Runkerry beach and follow the River Bush beside the train tracks adorned with blackberries, buttercups and dandelions which lead into Bushmills village.

People that know better than me say about 50 millions years ago a volcanic fissure eruption formed around 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. However, I like to think it’s just as easy to believe the old myth where the Irish hunter Finn McCool built these hexagonal steps creating a link to Scotland.

Time might move on, but a singular path leads us here. To a fertile valley where an underlying geology of basalt makes the water hard, but it’s not hard to see how life can be idyllic here and why the waters flow with Atlantic salmon and brown trout.

It’s time to cast aside aspersions and immerse yourself in what connects us all. Are we not all tributaries of the same old river? So if a place makes a people, and people make traditions, it’s the intergenerational family values distilled into the water from St Columb’s Rill that creates this elixir.

Honouring heritage is more than the malting of barley, it’s more than ancient copper kettle pots with their swanny necks, it’s having the resilience and confidence to have faith in what you do, rarity should be held dearly.

Here, it's the hands of 3rd and 4th generation Coopers that hold things together, who risk splinter and hammer blow to bung a barrel. With a touch they understand the swirls in the grain of a white oak. Amongst all the iron hoops and mild steel, there is something more solid that solders these kin to this atelier.

You know this is just part of our story

The first raising of a glass toasting the Angel’s share

You know it’s people and new encounters that makes us dare.

You know it’s in following the river we can find the path of least resistance

It’s in meeting each other halfway we learn to shorten the greatest distance.

Someday that journey you promised to make will start today.


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