Bushmills Master Blender Alex Thomas proud of range on International Irish Whiskey Day
AHEAD of today’s International Irish Whiskey Day, Alex Thomas didn’t quite echo Colin Welland’s (in)famous acceptance speech at the 1982 Oscars ceremony when he declared ‘The British are coming!’
However, the Bushmills Master blender did have a semi-serious warning for the friendly rivals across the North Channel, the Scotch whisky industry, finishing her comments with a laugh:
“When I joined there was only three distilleries in Ireland, Bushmills being one of those, but now there’s almost, there was 40 at the last count and every day there’s another one. The revival is here.
“So, Scotland needs to start looking out – we’re coming for them!”
The north Antrim native is delighted at this latest opportunity to publicise Irish whiskey, especially the world-famous Bushmills range for which she is responsible:
“We always want to shout from the rooftops when we’re getting the opportunity, so to be involved in something like that and have the [International] Irish Whiskey Day is amazing.
“We get to tell our stories around the world and get to see new whiskeys coming out and it’s the perfect opportunity for us have our launch for the 33-year-old Port [finish]. It’s the last of the 10 [Causeway] Collection that has been released on the first of March so that people get to enjoy it. There’s only 69 bottles, it is extremely rare, and people are getting the opportunity to purchase it at Heathrow Airport. It is expensive but it is really worth it - £1,200 roughly, just gives people a showcase of what the collections can do.
“We thought it was an ideal opportunity in and around the same time to shout about Irish whiskey and see that category growing. People are falling back in love with the Irish category, which we can see clearly over the last five to 10 years.”
“Obviously we have a long-standing history here at Bushmills. We’re here because we’re good at what we do. Colum Egan [Bushmills Master Distiller] always loves to say, ‘We’re not good because we’re old, we’re old because we’re good’. I think he’s hit it on the head there.
“We’ve 400 years of heritage. We know what we do and we do it well. We offer such a great range for people, whether you’re just starting out on whiskey or whether you’ve been there for a long time and you want to continue.
“There’s been a revival in the single malt category. People want to have something special, they want to have something premium and Bushmills is right at the forefront of that.”
She also welcomes the other distilleries springing up around Ireland, north and south, adding to aforementioned established trio of Bushmills, Midleton (in Cork), and Great Northern (near Dundalk):
“There is plenty of room for all of us. The new distilleries that are coming out are helping us to get the word out there, giving us something to shout about from this island – because the island of Ireland do make amazing whiskeys.
“We all are very proud of what we do and if we can get that word out all over the world, it will help us all. Bushmills are just very fortunate to have that ability to shout maybe louder than some and get the whiskey out there to try.
“Yes, Jameson may have the lead of the market from Ireland, but Bushmills are right up there as well. We’re continuing to grow and we’re seeing that growth over the last several years, which is fantastic to stand on and continue to grow for the future.”