Looking to toast Saint Patrick next month? Bushmills, the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world, recently dropped Rare Cask #3, one of the most complex and full-bodied whiskeys ever produced by the storied Irish brand in its more than 400 years of existence.
As the name implies, this is the third in Bushmills’ Rare Cask series of periodically released limited editions that showcase some of its oldest and most collectible whiskeys. Triple-copper-pot-distilled, then aged in a combination of bourbon and Oloroso sherry barrels, the whiskeys comprising Rare Cask #3 were left to mature for 13 years, after which they were vatted together to continue developing for another 17 years in a trio of first-fill Madeira casks.
Finally bottled at a non-chill-filtered cask strength of 98 proof, the whiskey reveals in its first pour a thick bouquet of stewed red fruit, marmalade and cookie dough. Laced with long-lingering notes of sweet honeyed prunes and apples over a blanket of brandied cherries, the richly textured liquid shows the extent of the angel’s share after three decades of aging, which left only enough of the 30-year-old elixir to fill 480 bottles, at a suggested retail price of $1,000 each.
This remarkable third expression of Bushmills’ Rare Cask series is the second to be produced under the auspices of newly appointed master blender, Alex Thomas, along with Bushmills’ longtime master distiller, Colum Egan, and is just shy of being the distillery’s oldest bottled whiskey. That distinction goes to its 33-year-old port-finished Causeway Collection, a limited edition that was only available to overseas markets. By contrast, Rare Cask #3 has been reserved exclusively for the United States, thus providing an elegant way to say sláinte with one of the most grand drams ever to hail from the Emerald Isles.