Whisky Focus - Bushmills #3 Char Bourbon Cask Reserve The Steamship Collection Review

Bushmills Bourbon Cask Reserve The Steamship Collection

3rd October 2017
Bushmills unveil #3 Char Bourbon Cask Reserve, the latest addition to the travel retail exclusive Steamship Collection.

Bushmills The Steamship Collection

Bushmills has unveiled the latest addition to their global travel retail exclusive Steamship Collection, the Bushmills #3 Char Bourbon Cask Reserve.

"#3 Char" refers to the charring level of the casks which were used to mature the new Bourbon Cask Reserve whiskey, this charring level plays a major part in the flavour of the final whiskey. Typically ex-Bourbon casks used to mature Scotch and Irish whiskey have a charring level of #3 which means that the inside of the cask has been exposed to heat/burning for 45 seconds, it doesn't sound like much but varying the charring time of the cask by just +/- 15 seconds can have a significantly different effect on the maturing whiskey.

Bushmills #3 Char Bourbon Cask Reserve The Steamship CollectionFor this third addition to the Bushmills Steamship Collection which was launched to mark the 125th anniversary of the maiden voyage of SS Bushmills, Bushmills Master Blender, Helen Mulholland has chosen to follow the earlier Steamship Collection releases of Bushmills Port Cask Reserve and Bushmills Sherry Cask Reserve with an expression matured in probably the most commonly used type of cask to mature Irish whiskey, the American ex-Bourbon Cask, and it goes without saying that it should have a place in the Bushmills travel retail Steamship Collection line-up.

Helen commented on the new whiskey, saying; "#3 Char Bourbon Cask Reserve is the result of our long-standing relationship with master coopers from Louisville, Kentucky who reserve only the finest American white oak, custom-charred bourbon casks to mature this unique whiskey.

"By using a custom char we are able to draw out incredible spicy, honeyed vanilla flavours from deep within the fine grain American white oak. The resulting whiskey has subtle notes of toasted oak, spices and crème brûlée with a long, rich and smooth finish."

Those of you interested in a little more in-depth explanation of how the charring level effects the final whiskey, technically the charring level opens up small channels in the oak allowing the spirit to absorb deep into the oak, further extracting aromatic aldehyde's and increasing the release of natural vanillin's and at the same time absorbing undesirable flavour congeners which are thought to cause hangovers. By charring the oak you are converting the outside layer into carbon charcoal, some of the wood sugars are converted into caramel notes while also acting like a carbon filter which filters out unpleasant sulphur flavours.

Like any good Irish whiskey there has got to be a good story behind it and the Bushmills Steam Ship Collection certainly has a story. As I said the collection was launched to mark the 125th anniversary the SS Bushmills, which first set course in for America and beyond back in 1890, loaded with a cargo of Bushmills Irish Whiskey.

On the extraordinary maiden voyage it sailed to the corners of the globe where it established knowledge and relationships with some of the world’s finest wine and spirits producers, before returning home with a variety of their finest seasoned casks. It is these relationships that have served the Old Bushmills Distillery to this day, helping Bushmills master distillers explore the potential of whiskey maturation in exclusive and rare casks.

The Bushmills #3 Char Bourbon Cask Reserve will be bottled at 40% ABV and presented in a 1 litre bottle with a RRP of £50 and will be available exclusively in selected travel retail outlets from early 2018. Meanwhile you will find the current Bushmills core whiskey range available from specialist online whisky shops such as  Master of Malt

Bushmills #3 Char Bourbon Cask Reserve Review

Review added 11th October 2017.

William Morrison's Tasting Notes:

Nose: Fresh pear, sweet vanilla and honey,
touch of oak spice.

Lovely honey and vanilla laced pears lead followed by a little zesty orange, lemon and some peach then some lovely spicy oak, a little bitter dark chocolate counters the honey and vanilla sweetness.

More vanilla and zesty fruit which fades first leaving the lovely oak spice and a peach note to come more to the fore before slowly fading in the slightly drying finish.

Comment: No surprises here, just as I expected, simply a clean, fresh, good quality, easy drinking, Bourbon cask matured Bushmills Irish single malt whiskey. A great whiskey to pick up on your travels for yourself or for a gift for an Irish whiskey drinking friend or relative.

SMW Score 86/100


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