For those that have heard horrible things about perpetually rainy San Francisco Winters, don’t believe any of it. Yes, it rains, and on one or two occasions it rains hard. And, yes, it’s cold, a deep bone-chilling cold special to San Francisco because we’re too stupid to insulate our buildings, knowing full well temperatures hover around a damp 45 degrees Fahrenheit from November 15 – March 23. But really it’s not that bad. It rains a helluva lot more in Portland and Seattle, and we (sadly) never have those wonderful sub-zero, week-long cold snaps of the Midwest. So it’s not that bad…I hate SF Winters…but they’re not that bad. It’s easy to deal with winter here because there’s the unwritten agreement that states by early May, the rain goes away until November and leaves us with wind, mild temps, a fair amount of sun, and the spectacular Pacific marine layer rolling over the hills around 4:52pm every day that forces us to wear scarves and jackets at night in July. Still that’s the deal, so you can understand why I’m writing this with no small amount of disgruntlement on May 25 with a forecasted week of rain in front of me. Uncool and totally unfair…we had a deal.
So, since it’s rainy and cold, I figured I should drink some Irish whiskey. One of the big three distilleries in Ireland…ok, one of the only three distilleries in Ireland, Bushmills is certainly well-known for their square bottled Original and Black Bush blends, but less so for its single malt whiskies. The 10 year old is the youngest of that lot, triple distilled without a trace of peat and matured in ex-bourbon casks.
The Nose: Wonderfully malty and pretty fruity at the same time. The malt is clean, honeyed and bright, no smoke at all, while the fruit is ripe pears, juicy red grapes and a little stone fruit. There’s also just a bit of nuttiness and semi-sweet chocolate, and nice notes of dried leaves.
The Palate: A great combination of smooth and bright with a fairly light, almost dry mouth feel. At first, there’s a lot of slightly bitter grape, like grape skins, sweet but with a slight tannic quality. Then the barley comes back strong mixed with unsweetened cocoa and that dry leaves thing. It has really nice developement with the grainy, slightly earthy quality mixing very well with the fruitier notes.
The Finish: Brief and to the point, still grape-y and still grain-y. I was left with a really nice mouth-watering acidity.
Thoughts: I’ve clearly been away from Irish Whiskey for too long. The Bushmills 10 is so clean and refreshing, a really elegant, delicious mix of grain and fruit. It’s remarkably smooth for 10 years old, I’m guessing due to the triple distillation. This stuff is sunny fall afternoon in a bottle, a little cool outside but just before the leaves start to fall.