Entries in Whiskey (4)


Northern Irish Gal Cup

When people arrive at my parties I offer them a drink and its always a very simple choice.  Would you like a cocktail or some sparkling water.  I am a firm believer in keeping things really simple. Not offering too much choice.  Simply lovely ingredients well cooked.  Lastnight we toasted St Patrick with this cocktail, then feasted on several kinds of sausages, champ and carmelised onions.  For pudding with had a St Patrick's Minty Pavlova.  Delicious. Simple. Straightforward.  I am a cook who loves feeding people, bringing them round my table to enjoy laughter and conversation, good food and sparkling lights.

I love Writer's Tears from Marks and Spencer.  This Irish whiskey is 100% barley and distilled in 60% malt and 40% pot still.  Writerṣ Tears” is a old style Irish Pot still Whiskey which makes it a perfect base for a cocktail.  It has a lovely honey flavour with a burst of ginger and butterscotch, there are hints of toasted oat.  It is smooth.  A result of being tripled distilled and matured in charred bourbon barrels.  

To make a Northern Irish Gal Cup - 

Add two cups of whiskey to large jug then a bottle of sparkling ginger and rhubharb presse, top with pure pear juice.  The sweetness of the pear mixed withthe sharp rhubarb, spliced with a hint of gingers fresh spice brings a fresh, mellow note to the honey Writers Tears Whiskey. Serve with ice in beautiful glasses.


Give this a listen while you sip - 


That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Sláinte its Monday, time for some Bushmills Whiskey Mint Julep

It was a rainy day in Charleston when I dived into the Gin Joint to seek shelter from the droplets of rain, that were threatening to make it under my hat, and down my neck.  The bartender was mixing Mint Juleps. The classic cocktail of the south.  Pulling up a chair, discarding my dripping garments, I asked him to pour me one.

I watched as he muddled, and stirred, crushed ice and poured bourbon from a height.  It was fun.

A silver Julep cup, filled with cone of ice and a light crusting of ice forming on the outside of the metal was placed in front of me.  In the South, it's all about the ice, and plenty of it, because ice, sure does melt fast, in the swampy heat. 

It looked as appealing as it tasted.  Sweet mint with the soothing smoke of bourbon.


Having recently been working on some Bushmills 10 Year Old Malt cocktail recipes - whiskey lemonade anyone? - I knew this whiskey with its melted chocolate overtones, and hint of smokiness would make a lighter Mint Julep than the traditional bourbon based one.

This cocktail has few ingredients: mint, simple syrup, bourbon or Bushmills 10 Year Old Malt, and ice.  That's it, simplicity at its finest.

Creation could not be easier -

Bushmills Whiskey Mint Julep Recipe

Serves One


  • 3 fingers or 3 ouces of Bushmills 10 year old malt
  • 1 ounce simple sugar syrup
  • ounces bourbon
  • bunches mint
  • Crushed Ice lots of crushed ice



  1. Muddle 4 mint leaves in the bottom of a tumbler or Julep Cup
  2. Pour the simple syrup over the muddle mint and muddle a little longer
  3. Fill with crushed ice
  4. Pour over the Bushmills 10 year old malt and stir until well combined
  5. Add more ice and a sprig of mint
  6. Sip slowly


That's it for now ...




Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Sláinte its Monday, time for some Bushmills Whiskey Lemonade

Whiskey Lemonade is a study in simplicity.  We are talking three ingredients here - Lemons, Whiskey and sugar .  

And, that's it, simple, sensation and sazzy. Not to mention perfect for serving in large pitchers at parties and BBQs.  

Good Whiskey Lemonade needs lots of lemons! I use the juice of 2 and sometimes three lemons per long glass.

What is it about squeezing lemons by hand, that is so satisfying.  The zingy scent makes me smile, and I sense I fresh rush of energy, just from inhaling the aroma.  I love the smell of lemon which lingers on my hands hours after juicing.

Lemonade: tart, refreshing, simple, with the slightless sweetness, add some 10 year old Bushmills Whiskey, and you bring the tiniest hint of smokiness which comes from the fact this Whiskey is matured for 10 years seasoned Bourbon barrels mainly from Kentucky.  The finishing notes of verbenna and the dry nature of this whiskey, open up when its stirred over lots of ice with lemon and a dash or two of sugar syrup.  I prefer this made with 10 year old Bushmills, but it is just as lovely made with Bushmills Original or Bushmills Honey.


Whiskey Lemonade is a summer drink at its finest, (although note to self it can be drunk anytime of year) it's freshness makes it ideal to sip at after a long day at the office.  Or actually just to enjoy over the course of an afternoon as  you watch the world go by.

The most simple way to make this for pitchers is 1/2 whiskey, 1/2 homemade or still lemonade poured into a jug packed with ice, then stir.  

Trust me it's unlikely you will want to make just one glass, but if you do, here's the recipe.

Whiskey Lemonade 



  • Bushmills Whiskey (two measures at least per person) 
  • Lemon juice (allow juice of two lemons per person)
  • Sugar Syrup to taste 




  1. Fill a large highball with ice
  2. Pour over the Bushmills Whiskey
  3. Add the lemon juice and sugar syrup
  4. Stir and serve



That's it for now ...



Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Bushmills Distillery - how Bushmills Irish Whiskey is made

There’s something about the idea of drinking whiskey that has always made me smile.  Smooth and nuanced the pale gold liquid swirls in the glass beckoning us to try her.  It’s a drink of reliability, a taste that pulls us in, suggesting calm in swirling smoke, and stormy seas.  I imagine myself with a glass, dog at my feet, sitting by a turf fire, engaged in relaxed conversation and comfortable silences.

When I think of Whiskey I automatically think of the Bushmills Distillery in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.  Nestled into the hillside, this rather magical place holds many a barrel of the amber nectar, on its vast site of some 84 acres with 18 warehouses, each holding casks filled with whiskey stacked six high.  

Whiskey has been distilled on this site since 1608 with the official licence to distil being granted in 1784, making Bushmills the oldest licenced distillery in the world. The pot still also in 1784 became the registered trademark/logo of Bushmills Whiskey – its still in use today on each of the bottles.  The Distillery blends its buildings as well as its whiskey, with a range of old heavy stone, whitewashed and modern structures across the site.

There are 160 staff on this fully working distillery, which gives the guest a real sense of the business of whiskey - the craft, expertise and skill that goes into each bottle of Bushmills. 

With a keen sense of anticipation I join a tour on a dampish Saturday afternoon.  Stepping into the mashhouse, any sense of chill leaves our bodies, as the sweet heady smell of yeast, and the warmth of the house surround us like a comforter.  

It is in the Mashhouse three ingredients come together – unpeated malted barley from Co Kildare in Ireland, distillers yeast and water from St Columbs Mill a tributary of the River Bush – in a vast copper kettle. The mixture is heated with hot air, rather than over a peat fire which gives Bushmills its clean distinct unsmokey taste. The metal floor vibrates under our feet as the three ingredients are slowly stirred together, a giant mechanical arm grinding the grains to a coarse flour also known as a girst by distillers. 

The stir and standing time is about six and a half hours, using 48’000 litres of water the grains and yeast are heated to three different temperatures.  Bushmills Distillery have three to four separate mixings in the Mashhouse each day.

The liquid wash becomes known as wort which is full of sugars essential for the distillation process.  When the yeast is added, it triggers alcoholic fermentation – which basically means the wort sugars turn into alcohol.  The vessels where the fermentation takes place are called washbacks, they are huge metal containers, standing on a metal grill, I look at them sitting about a metre above the surface, wondering how they can hold 48,000 litres until I look down, and these vast tanks seem to stretch on forever.  The alcohol that is formed here is about 7.5%, once the alcohol has formed the distillation process begins.

Our tour walk to the distillation room where the heat makes me think I am in a warm comforting whiskey sauna.  In tall copper pot stills, with fat bottoms and long swan like necks, the whiskey is distilled three times.

It is this tripled distillation process which makes Bushmills smooth and subtle, and distinguishes it from other whiskeys which are usually only distilled twice.  Here the whiskey is clear like water, because it is all down to the barrel to create the colour and draw out the character of the whiskey.

Using American Bourbon barrels, Sherry casks and even Maderia or Port casks, the distilled alcohol is barrelled and left to rest for a minimum of three years.  At this point the blending of the whiskey begins.  Here the whiskey is left to sleep in different types of barrels to create the specific blends of Bushmills Whiskey. On a cold day the grain of the wood tightens and on a warm day it relaxes, the wood acts as a lung allowing the whiskey to breathe.  A certain amount of whiskey is lost through this breathing process and it becomes known as the angel breath.

Bushmills make a range of whiskeys – there are seven altogether in the Bushmills Whiskey family - two blends, Bushmills original the youngest whiskey and Black Bush, here grain alcohol is added to the whiskey to create the blend, and a range of single malts 10, 12 (only available to purchase at the distillery), 16 and 21 which are aged and blended in casks for their respective number of years. 

After the whiskey has been aged in the barrels for the relevant number of years it moves for bottling, a noisy room, where the whiskey is decanted, labelled, sealed and checked before making its way across the world, to a bar near to you.

Bushmills make a range of whiskeys there are two blends – Bushmills original the youngest whiskey and Black Bush, here grain alcohol is added to the whiskey to create the blend, and a range of single malts, which are aged in casks.  For example the 21-year-old whiskey is aged for 19 years in either bourbon or sherry casks, then finished in port.  They also have a Bushmills Honey, were the whiskey has been blended with pure Irish Honey.

Now for tasting the whiskeys – at the end of the tour each of us are offered a dram or whatever Bushmills whiskey we would like to try or there is the opportunity to have a private tasting of all the whiskey’s. But how did the Bushmills taste, I can hear you ask?

The Bushmills style is fruity throughout all the family of whiskeys.  Bushmills Original is soft and rounded, with vanilla and grain on the nose, and honey on the palate with a fairly fiery finish as the alcohol takes over.

Back home, I pour a glass and ease back into my chair, fire crackling by my toes, and sigh, contentedly.

I will be sharing my experiences of the private tutored tasting in another feature here on Salt and Sparkle, as well as a piece on how to drink whiskey and a whiskey based cocktail & food recipe – so watch out for those coming over the next couple of weeks. 

How do you like to drink your Bushmills?

That’s it for now …




Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable




Salt and Sparkle were guests of the Bushmills Distillery