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Friday, June 21, 2024

Things I Really Drink: Bushmills 10 year old Sherry Cask Finish single malt

I've spent years complaining about the distilleries that bury their high-quality spirit under the maximum amount of dilution allowed by law. Recently, I decided to be a little more constructive by actually buying a 46+% abv age-stated whisk(e)y when one of said distilleries gets around to releasing one. So I bought Glenlivet's 12yo Illicit Still last year, and I sprung for Bushmills's 10yo Sherry Cask Finish this year.

Bushmills has been a bit of mystery to me ever since I started this blog. Every member of their standard single malt range is bottled at 40%abv, even the 21 year old. As a result, these whiskies are consumable but forgettable. But venture beyond the OBs, and one finds some excellent Bushmills. One doesn't even have to chase the spectacular late '80s single indie casks, emptying out the 401k in the process. The 46%abv Knappogue Castle releases can be great on their own.

So when I saw a 46%abv 10-year-old Travel Retail OB selling for about $55 (for 1 liter!) on European retailer sites, I was interested indeed. It was just my luck that Paris's CDG airport has an extensive whisk(e)y selection in their duty free shop, and among some very interesting bottles sat Bushmills 10 year old Sherry Cask Finish.

In Ohio, the standard 40%abv 10yo bottling is $57 with tax, for 750mL. At the airport the 46%abv 10yo was $52, for 1000mL. When my Math Brain and my Hedonist Brain shake (brain) hands, I'm helpless. So I returned to the states with a bottle. I brought it to my new house, and then opened it after the move ended two weeks later. And now I'm finally sitting down to review the thing:

Distillery: Old Bushmills
 Casa Cuervo
Location: County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Type: Single Malt
Distillations: Three
Age: at least 10 years old
Maturation: ex-bourbon casks for the primary maturation, then a sherry cask secondary maturation
Exclusive to: Travel Retail
Bottling year: 2023
Bottling code: L3 137 IB 001 9:16
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? probably not
e150a added? probably
(from my bottle)


The nose develops over time. It starts with a good malt note, some almond extract, dried cherries, and a hint of lime. After 20 minutes, it picks up some pipe tobacco and anise. By the 40-minute mark, Granny Smith apples, brine, and wet sheep have arrived. The palate is creamy, salty, and peppery, with a little bit of American oak, but more decent dry Oloroso. Walnuts, raw almonds, and a hint of marzipan appear next, followed by bright citrus. It's never aggressively sweet. It has a toasty, nutty finish, with almond extract, tart citrus, and cassia bark.

DILUTED to ~40%abv, or 1 tsp of water per 30mL whiskey

The 40% issue arrives right on cue. The whiskey has shed most of the nose's characteristics, leaving only American oak, oranges, pineapples, and flowers. The palate is much sweeter and woodier. More peppercorns and vanilla. It finishes with vanilla and dried cloves.


Were my Whisky Attention Deficit Disorder not so aggressive, I would have "daily drinkers". And if I had a daily drinker for the past five weeks, it would be Bushmills 10 year old Sherry Cask single malt. The nose has actual angles and corners, while the palate offers non-generic sherry notes. The finish could be better, but it's not a tannin blast, which I appreciate. The whiskey isn't that deep of a thinker, but it is a very decent drinker. Dropping it to the standard Bushmills 40%abv level wrecks it, so leave it alone!

I wish I could encourage Casa Cuervo to bring this to The States, but it's easy to see them doubling the $/mL to $80 for a 750mL bottle. So if you're out there somewhere traveling and you don't want to break the bank at Duty Free and you want a Big bottle of sturdy, sherried Irish malt, this is......probably your only option.

Availability - Travel retail and some European retailers
Pricing - $50-$60, depending on exchange rate, for 1 liter
Rating - 85 (neat only)