Bushmills SMWS 51.8 “Funky flowers and tropical fruits”

Recently we’ve seen a sudden jump in Irish whiskey coming out. Perhaps due to certain tariffs from a specific country caused by a dumb fight between airline manufacturers, perhaps due to the rise in demand for Scotch, or perhaps because there was a rumoured large amount of honey barrels released by a rich collector family.

None the less I, for one, love it. I personally find Irish whiskey great when it’s given the chance. The industry has taken a beating that most professional AMA fighters would wince at. So if there’s more, and more nerds realizing they are good, and the pricing is nuts.

Thus when Bushmills SMWS 51.8 “Funky flowers and tropical fruits” popped up and wasn’t price at levels that my millennial butt can’t even fathom, I split it.

So what do we have here? It’s whiskey made at Bushmills (Northern Ireland for those of you who need to make that distinction, either for jingoistic reasons or to ensure that the history isn’t lost, and I’ll let you decide if it’s noble or not to do so, as I personally don’t want to insult anyone on it but wish that people could get along and not hurt one another though I understand that would take a long time of undoing years of anger).

That was a lot. Hope it doesn’t offend anyone. Where was I?

Oh, yeah: First-fill ex-Bourbon cask, decent age on it, made by a good distillery. So of course, I purchased it.

Was it a good idea? Let’s see, shall we?

Price: € 134

Region: Ireland

Vintage: 16.10.2001

Bottled: 2018

Stated Age: 16-years-old

Cask type: 1st Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrel

Number of bottles: 205

Abv: 54.5%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/6

Nose: Croissant, pine, grapefruit, vanilla icing

Take the normal bread of Irish whisky, and add butter and expertise that I’m certain I’ll never have with bread making. At least until pandemic no. 3.

Sweet, some balance of strong acidity, bit of wood, and a strong vanilla note that hangs out with the sweets like it’s meant to, but only when the cool guy water is around.

Yeah, that didn’t make as much sense in my head as it should, let’s move on.

Taste: Grapefruit, oak, caramel, doughnut, vanilla ice cream, hard candy, herbal

Tart, oak, sweet notes mixed with a yeast, more of that strong, creamy/sweet vanilla note. Water breaks it down to just sugar, but wow this tastes like an expert level dessert. Balanced and not at a bake sale (not to slag off bake sales, they rock).

Finish: Doughnut, oak, tangerine, dark chocolate, banana candy

More sweet, more acidity, and more dark chocolate? Wait, one of those wasn’t there before. It almost plays a game of “is this too bitter or too sweet” over and over.

Conclusion: A unique, odd dram. Nothing about it will blow your socks off. You will still have socks before and after this dram, assuming you don’t have some sort of goblin about.

What it does is everything I like about Irish, but slightly better. It’s surprising that SMWS got this off the Island, as they typically don’t let something like this far from the shores.

Like the yeast in Irish? This has that, though sweeter. Like tropical? Has that, but sweeter. Like a good bourbon cask? That, but sweeter. Fun, solid dram.


World Whisky review #395, Ireland review #111, Whisky Network review #1969

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