Did someone say, “free whiskey?” Indeed. In fact, its not just anyone making the offer, but Bushmills—one of the planet’s primary producers of the brown spirit. The legendary Irish brand is so eager to be your first whiskey of 2021 that they’re offering to pick up the tab. To cash-in on the offer, simply order (or take out) some Bushmills from your local bar or restaurant and upload a photo of your itemized receipt here. Through March 18th, they’ll Venmo or PayPal you back $6 USD towards the purchase.
Why would they do such a thing? Well, first and foremost, it’s a way to help promote the food and beverage industry during this period of unprecedented hardship. Demonstrating their commitment to the cause, the company has already donated upwards of $200,000 to the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program.
A less obvious concept of the campaign—dubbed #FirstWhiskey—is the brand’s connection to resiliency. The Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland bills itself as the “world’s oldest licensed whiskey maker.” To trace the origins of production in this region you have to go all the way back to 1608 when a local farmer, Sir Thomas Phillips, received a royal decree from King James I. A proper commercial operation wasn’t constructed on the site until 1784, but it burned to the ground in a massive fire almost a century later. The facility that currently stands here, among the most visited tourist attractions in the country, has been continuously bottling its triple-distilled liquid since 1885. Though there have been other ups and downs along the way, it is today responsible for one of the most recognized brands of booze on shelves.
Bushmills is second in global sales of Irish Whiskey only to Jameson. But while its main competitor out of the Irish Republic has popularized a blended style of the category, Bushmills is renowned for its single malt offerings. Its 16-year-old expression, a sophisticated example, matures in a combination of casks seasoned with either Oloroso sherry or bourbon—then finishes for an additional 9 months in port pipes. The 21-year is an even more elegant alternative, capable of standing toe-to-toe with comparably aged scotches that retail at twice the price.
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Beyond the stuff Old Bushmills wraps in its own labels, the workhorse has also evolved into a dependable outlet for sourced juice. Especially as the craft spirits boom has ramped up across the Emerald Isle. Just 15 years ago, there were only 3 total whiskey distilleries in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. Today that number is upwards of 30. And while many of those upstarts wait for their own whiskies to ready in warehouses, they’ve turned to proven stocks—such as those up in Bushmills—as a stopgap. With scant exception if you’re drinking an Irish single malt today, chances are good it initially rolled off stills here.
And that trend looks likely to continue well into the future. In 2019, Bushmills got the go-ahead on an $82 million expansion that’s set to double production over the next five years. A new stillhouse and barrel store on the existing site will accompany the construction of 29 additional maturation warehouses.