Whiskey Review – Bushmills Black Bush and Redbreast 12

As it is (late on) St. Patrick’s day, I decided that I’d follow the lead of every whiskey blogger and put up a review of an Irish Whiskey.  Then I figured that, as a new blogger, I should differentiate myself.  So I am really going to shock you.  I’m going to review … two Irish Whiskeys.  I’ll give you a minute to compose yourselves.

My two Irish right now (in keeping with my 4 Scotch/2 Irish/2 Bourbon format) are both what you’d call “premium” Irish whiskeys.  Or “luxury” Irish whiskeys.  I’m making those terms up, of course, but the point being that they are each a step above the baseline Irish juice that you’ll find in most bars.  Bushmills Black Bush is a step up from the distillery’s iconic white label, and  Redbreast 12 is a step up from … well, nothing, because Redbreast don’t mess around with no ordinary whiskey.

Enough blathering, let’s get to it, starting with the lower-priced Black Bush:

Nose – An interesting nose, not dominated by one note.  I get some lemon custard, some mineral scent, and a little bit of floral.  Also getting a fair amount of alcohol burn.  Not the most pleasant.

Taste – One trap that I think I tend to fall into a bit as a rookie whiskey blogger is that I tend to  look for the scents on the nose as flavors on the palate.  Here, that was rather easy to avoid.  I get a little bit of bitter chocolate, something like hand soap, and a lot of heat at the end.

Finish – Mostly warm/alocol-based heat.  Ends quickly.

Comment – Tasting the Black Bush is a many-seconds-long experience.  Here is what my tongue thinks as it goes through that experience (yes, my tongue has its own brain): “Hmmm… here comes a liquid.  Booze, yes!  It has that ‘here comes some whiskey’ start.  A nice oily mouthfeel.  And … wait, where did it go?  Where’s all the flavor?”  In other words, it is just muted on the palate.  Almost like drinking a slightly whiskey-flavored candlewax.  The heat at the end is unpleasant.

I’ve heard so many good comments about Black Bush that I almost wonder if I got a bad bottle, or if my bottle came from a bad batch.  I’m willing to try again, but this just didn’t float my boat.

Score – C.  A disappointment, especially considering the slightly elevated price tag.  I enjoy most Irish whiskeys I try, but this just didn’t have enough flavor, and alcohol played too prominently in the taste.  One thing I’ll note – the longer the bottle was open, the more I enjoyed it.  I’ve heard (not really experienced this) that whiskeys often lose some character due to age after opening.  This one actually seemed to gain.

Other, better reviews:

Official review from Bushmills


Jason’s Scotch Whisky Reviews


Sorry for the St. Patty’s downer.  Let’s see if that Redbreast 12 (non-cask strength) can improve upon things.

Nose – Floral.  Little Bitty Bits (my wife’s new name, now that she’s blogging) describes it as “female-friendly.”  Lots of apple.  Lots of oak and vanilla.  More and more apple.  Sharp sting of heat.

Taste – Man, there’s all kinds of things going on here.  Vanilla.  Apple and brown sugar.  Licorice. Spicy, creamy, and not to sound like a hypocrite considering my comments in the above review, but the bite of alcohol in this, while strong, mixes in with the spice perfectly.  Everything plays together so well.  It is like a group of notes being hit at once to make a chord.

Finish – A warm, slightly sour note that seems to sit like a little ball of heat in your throat.  Rather long lasting.

Comment – I obviously prefer this to the Black Bush.  The interesting contrast in the two, in my opinion, is the effect of the alcohol burn on the palate.  In the Black Bush, it just shows up unannounced and takes over.  In the Redbreast, it slots itself in amongst the other flavors, mixing well with the considerable spice and apple-y sweetness.

ScoreA-. Here’s how my drinking usually progresses on a given night.  I start out by targeting one bottle that I want to be sure to be my first, unblemished taste of the night.  Maybe it is new, or maybe I haven’t tasted it in awhile, maybe I’m reviewing it next – for whatever reason, that one goes first.  Then, after that first glass, I decide what will be my “rest of the night” drink (whether that be one more glass for a regular night, or 3 or even 4 more if things are getting a little bit inappropriate).  Well, every time I look for my “rest of the night” drink, my eyes instinctively turn to this Redbreast.  For the sake of variety, it isn’t always my choice, but it is always near the top of my list.

Other, better reviews:

(No official website?)

Pork ‘n Whisk(e)y




4 comments on “Whiskey Review – Bushmills Black Bush and Redbreast 12

  1. EricH says:

    Redbreast 12 is, in a way, a step up from Green Spot which is 8-9 year old whiskey.

  2. Yes, I guess that is true. I’m far from an expert. I understand that Green Spot can’t be found in the states (or at least it can’t be found where I shop), but I’d love to try some. I’m keeping my eye out for the chance…

    • Bill says:

      I can tell you one thing about Green Spot, it has a muck better nose in my opinion with it’s butter sweet, honey vanilla all wrapped up in a refreshing (minty; fresh, grainy, as some might describe it) finish with a hint of young oak. This is where Redbreast is lacking but palate wise Green Spot is unpleasantly bitter (sorted with a bit of water) unlike Redbreast where it really shines with it’s smooth presence.

      Your nose will never forget Green Spot once it gets a sniff of it but pound for pound Redbreast is the winner.

  3. […] that, after years of beer drinking, I can learn to love whiskey.  I had just kicked my bottle of Redbreast 12, so I eagerly put the gift bottle out for future […]

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