The newly opened Causeway Distillery

Bushmills new distillery: cause to celebrate

27 April, 2023

Bushmills’ new distillery has opened up a world of possibilities both for production levels and the creation of exciting Irish whiskey expressions.

In late April, Bushmills officially opened its new Causeway Distillery, which is set to double the production of its Irish single malt whiskey. The brand, which claims to be the oldest licensed distiller in the world, has previously been owned by both Pernod Ricard and Diageo – but since Proximo bought it in 2015, investment has spiked. While the Causeway Distillery cost the company a mere $37m, it’s part of a wider $60m project to take Bushmills to the next level.

“We’ve finally broken the million-case barrier, which we’ve been anticipating for a while now,” says Colum Egan, head distiller at Bushmills. “But this is just the beginning, we fully expect growth to continue at the same rate.”

The new distillery is on the same site as the old one and, while it’s taken the best part of three years to build, the brand simultaneously added new warehouses to accommodate the subsequent increase in production. The building itself ticks sustainability boxes such as only using energy from green sources and reducing its energy use by 30% per litre of whiskey.

However, while this new development will scale up production two-fold, it’s been designed with the potential for further growth in the future.

According to Egan, the distillery is in a ‘T-shape’ and, should the brand continue to grow at its current rate, the site would essentially double again to form a rectangle.

The brand’s inventory of casks right now is around 460,000. For context, if this was all bottled and sold as Irish whiskey in one go, it would surpass 7 million cases – which is similar to the volume of Jameson in 2020. But as well as allowing for a lucrative future, these vast stocks provide the tools for master blender Alex Thomas to push boundaries.

“It’s so exciting to have all these different whiskeys at my fingertips because it’s allowing us to do things that nobody has before. I’m living my best dream right now.”

To highlight the extent of experimentation taking place at Bushmills, Thomas unveiled three whiskeys at the distillery launch event which aren’t yet ready for the market. Among them were some unusual concepts, such as 2002 Tricon, which uses American and European oak as well as a Brazilian wood for maturation, while 2000 Basalt Toasted Oak had an actual piece of basalt rock suspended inside the barrel while the whiskey aged. It should be emphasised that these are in the prototype phase, but it must be said the ideas are intriguing.

Outside the experimentation lab, Bushmills has stocks approaching 50 years old and, to coincide with the opening of the Causeway Distillery, the brand added 25 and 30-year-old expressions to its core range. The 25-year-old has spent most of its life in ex-Port casks while the 30 is rested in Pedro Ximénez casks for 16 years, retailing at £790 and £1,990 respectively. There aren’t many single malt producers with the wealth in aged stocks to have expressions as old as these in their core range, which further demonstrates the current health of the Bushmills operation.

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