Exploring Northern Ireland with Bushmills

2020 will be remembered for many things, however, on a personal level, the year started off in a wonderful way with the loveliest of trips, my first time in Ireland. My Partner Colin was turning 30 on the same day as his friends were getting married in Port Rush, Ireland. Deciding to make the most of this double celebration we made an intense itinerary for our 5 day trip starting in Dublin, driving over to Belfast and then taking the circular route via the Giants Causeway Coast, stopping off at Bushmills Distillery and then onto the wedding at Port Rush.

By far, my favourite part of the trip was driving our hire car along the Causeway Coast and through the rolling hills of Northern Ireland. Having seen it now, I don’t think we could have gone to Northern Ireland and not taken a trip to the area, it was simply breathtaking.

The first stop we took along this route was at the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge. Erected by fishermen over 250 years ago, this prime Instagram Photography spot is stunning. Even on a windy and bracing cold day like we experienced, there is something very invigorating about walking over a rickety, rope bridge above swirling waters. It’s a fair walk to the bridge but worth the pit-stop for views like this.

After taking the route of fishermen, we next tried our hand at being creatures from mythology. Next stop on the itinerary was the Giants Causeway. For this location stop, you can either believe the story or the science on how it came to be.

The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn Mac Cumhaill of Gaelic mythology was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Legend has it that Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway path across the seas so that the two giants could meet.

There are two versions to the next part of the story and locals will tell you which one they believe. In one, Fionn defeats Benandonner and in another, Fionn ‘hides’ from Benandonner once he realises how much of a giant he is. He hides in a cot pretending he is a baby, this scares Benandonner, thinking if this is the size of a baby, the father must be a giant of giants! He flees back to Scotland and in his path destroys the causeway so that Fionn would be unable to follow. Across the sea in Scotland, the same basalt columns exist adding more to the mystery…

If the ‘story’ doesn’t float your boat, the science might. The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO location, a title that brings with it recognition of the landmark’s global importance, both in beauty and structure. The Causeway is made up of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns which started to form around 50 million years ago through the volcanic activity of fluid molton basalt breaking through the chalk beds. As it cooled on mass, it craked leaving pillarlike structures. The area is just stunning and mindblowing due to how geometrically symmetrical each ‘biscuit’ structure is. It’s hard to understand how they became so uniformed. Whilst we were there, the wind whipped up the water into a foam thus making the rocks appear to bubble like lava which added to the effect of how they were perhaps formed.

Located on the ruggedly beautiful coast of County Antrim, just a stone’s throw away from the Giant’s Causeway is Bushmills® is the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery which was the next highlight stop on our list.  Following on from the mythology of the Causeway we felt a Whiskey or two would be the ideal tipple to explore.

Each sip of the award-winning Single Malt Irish Whiskeys has benefited from an unrivalled inventory of casks, sourced from around the world, from Sherry to Port, Madeira to Bourbon each vessel brings its own unique flavour. This precious stock and generations of artistry is today safeguarded by Master Blender, Helen Mulholland – the first woman to be included in the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame.

Whilst on the 45 distillery min tour, we learnt everything a novice Whiskey drinker needed to know. Prior to visiting, I have never been a whiskey lover, however, found the tour so enlightening that when it got to the tasting session at the end of the tour I felt I could the drink more. Here’s me enjoying a classic ‘hot toddy’ in the bar – very much needed after walking in the Giant’s footsteps on the Causeway Coast.

My trip to Northern Ireland and Bushmills encapsulated so much, discovering Northern Ireland, venturing into a new 30th decade with my partner and celebrating a friends marriage, Bushmills has become a bit of a synonymous drink with the trip. When sipping on one now, I can feel myself slipping into the giants footsteps in my mind and venturing back to this happy place.

If you’re a whiskey drinker and are looking for something new to whet your appetite this season, why not try these winter cocktails below?

Old Square

30ml Bushmills 10-Year-Old Single Malt
20ml VS Cognac
20ml Sweet Vermouth
7.5ml Benedictine
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
2 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Stir in mixing glass, strain and garnish with orange peel. Serve in a rocks glass with cubed ice. 

Irish Orchard
50ml Bushmills 10 Year Old
75ml Dry Cider
30ml Soda25ml Pressed Apple Juice

Add cubed ice and garnish with apple fan. Serve in a highball glass.

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The Bushmills Irish Whiskey collection is the ideal gift this season (or a treat for yourself!) and is available from specialist whiskey retailers, including Master Of MaltThe Whisky ExchangeThe Whisky Shop and Hedonism as well as from Bushmills distillery shop itself (should you decide to make the trip). The shop, cafe and bar is open without having to go on a tour, so if ever you are in the area,

**I was kindly gifted a bottle of Bushmills 10-Year-Old Malt, however, following our unrelated trip at the beginning of 2020 this was already our brand and whiskey of choice.

 

Have you visited the Causeway Coast? If so, which do you believe, the story or the science?

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