Visiting the Old Bushmills Distillery, Northern Ireland

Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK
Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK
Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK

Visiting the Old Bushmills Distillery

Since moving to Scotland, whisky has become something pretty familiar in my world. Embedded into the culture here, it’s no surprise that Irish whiskey is just as popular. So when we made our way to Bushmills in Northern Ireland, first on our list was to visit the Old Bushmills Distillery.

Although I’m not a big whisky fan myself, it’s something that can be appreciated for it’s artistry, no matter your taste. You’ll find the Old Bushmills Distillery in the heart of Bushmills itself. A relatively small village along the coast in Northern Ireland. Perfect distance to walk back to our apartment in the middle of town. Allowing us to sample a few whiskeys!

Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK
Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK
Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK
Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK

Old Bushmills History

Since 1608, Old Bushmills has been a favourite around the world, as one of the world’s oldest whiskey distilleries. Even with it’s own special mention in James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’; it’s no surprise the name Bushmills carries quite the story to tell.

Keeping the same philosophy for over 400 years of hand crafted small batches, Old Bushmills is the oldest working distillery in Ireland. The distillery is open for tours daily, each running every half a hour. On a first come first serve basis, you can expect to pay £8 per adult. The price also includes two complimentary drinks at the end of the tour. The last tour leaves at 4pm daily, so be sure to get there with time to spare, as you will have to wait. Unsurprisingly, the busiest time of day is in the afternoon.

Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK
Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK
Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK
Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK
Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK
Old Bushmills Distillery Northern Ireland travel blogger UK

What to Expect On the Tour

Upon starting the tour, you’ll be taken through a step by step process of the distilling. Entering the mash room you’re immediately hit by the strong smell of barley malt, ready to be fermented. From here prepare yourself for entering the incredibly hot distillation room. It’s hard to quite appreciate just how large the still’s are, which tower above. After you’ve sufficiently melted, you’ll instantly cool in the maturing room full of storage casks. With a wonderful homely smell of wood, sherry, bourbon whiskey and various other secret blends. At the end of the tour you’re given a complimentary taste of one of the Old Bushmills whiskeys, and a token for another of your choosing at the bar. I opted for a whiskey and lemonade cocktail as I prefer something a little sweeter (and less strong!) but the choice is yours.

The tour was very informative and fascinating to watch how it was all being made in front of us, even down to the bottling process. For just £8 we all felt it was a bargain considering the cost of other tours, and that included the two drinks! I’d definitely recommend a visit if you’re thinking of visiting Bushmills.

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  • Hi Louise! I am headed to Bushmills in two weeks as part of a road trip, and I will only spend an afternoon and a night there. I’m glad I found your post as I was trying to figure out how easy it is to get to visit the distillery. The fact that it’s on a first come first served basis leaves me a little worried not being able to arrive there in the morning. Could you please tell me what time you bought your ticket and how long you had to wait for your turn? I don’t know yet what time I’ll arrive there, do you think that arriving at 2PM all the tours for the day could be sold out? Thanks!

    • Hi Eva, glad to be of help! The distillery in in the centre of Bushmills (which is pretty small itself) so I’d definitely recommend if you’re staying in Bushmills, parking up and getting settled into your accommodation then walking to the distillery. Then you’re able to enjoy a drink with the various tasters they give you at the end of the tour!

      We attended the tour at 3pm, and had a 30 minute wait or so to get onto the next tour. Unfortunately they don’t let you book in advance unless you’re a group of 15 or more. The last tour is admitted at 4pm, but the turnaround is so quick I can’t see you waiting more than an hour for a tour if you arrive at 2pm. There are various areas on the site you’re able to walk around and take photographs of (everything featured in this post) ahead of the tour, which can help pass time. You aren’t allowed to take photographs whilst on the tour itself.

      Let me know if you’ve any more questions, I hope this helps!

      • Thanks! More than the wait itself I’m afraid that by 2 all the sposts for tours for the rest of the afternoon will be gone, but that might not be the case, judging from your experience. As long as I get to visit the distillery on the day that I’m there I will happily wait. I hope it goes well 🙂