Bushmills Distillery in Co. Antrim is known for turning out quality Irish Whiskey including the ubiquitous Black Bush and the excellent 16 year old.
We’re not looking at any of them today, in fact Bushmills Irish Honey isn’t even a whiskey, instead it’s a ‘spirit drink’ which is jumping on the increasing popular flavoured whisky category.
Described as ‘a blend of triple distilled Bushmills, real Irish honey and other natural flavours’ it’s bottled at 35% ABV.
Unsurprisingly, honey is the dominant smell. It’s not as thick or sickly as you might expect however, instead there is a sweet freshness with a little apple and pear fruit acidity.
With water, this fruit sweetness is lifted, bringing in pear drop boiled sweets and caster sugar.
The taste matches the nose; smooth honey and green fruit are very pleasant and there’s little alcohol presence in the flavour. Only in the short finish do you get a little bitterness which reveals the (likely young) whiskey which forms the base.
Although adding water makes the nose sweeter, it does so at the cost of the flavour. The sweet smoothness is washed away and it becomes more acrid; definitely not an improvement.
Bushmills Irish Honey is aimed squarely at those who would normally mix their spirits, hence reviewing it as a whiskey is a bit of a waste of time. That said, I was surprised at the freshness of the flavour and that apple / pear really lifts it away from the sugary honey sweetness you might expect.
With ice, this would be perfectly drinkable for something a bit different. Not one to seek out necessarily, but no need to run away from it if someone offers you it either.