The Old Bushmills Distillery is the world's oldest licensed whiskey distillery having received its licence to distil in 1608. In 1608 Sir Thomas Phillips was granted a licence to distil whiskey by James 1 of England, however, mentions of distilling traditions in the surrounding environs date back to 1276.
The Co Antrim village has a long and illustrious history of whiskey production. Stories tell us that the troops of King Henry II of England were more than happy to discover the unique taste of Irish whiskey. Unable to pronounce the Gaelic 'Uisce Beatha' (Water of Life), they shortened it to 'Fuisce' and finally to Whiskey.
Within a few short years after 1608, London society was paying tribute to the quality of the whiskey produced at the Old Bushmills Distillery. The Irish spirit was a favourite among the revellers of British King James' court. In 1784 the Distillery became an officially registered company.
From 1740s to 1910 Irish emigrants to the USA spread their taste for Bushmills.During these years the Bushmills family scored outstanding successes at International spirit and whiskey competitions.
The company flourished until Prohibition in America and other factors, which destroyed the whiskey export trade in Ireland. Although many of the Irish distilleries were forced to close, Bushmills was able to recover thanks to the vision of the then distillery director Wilson Boyd. He correctly anticipated the end of the American alcohol ban and had ample stocks of his fine whiskey ready for export.
In 1947 Isaac Wolfson of Great Universal Stores bought the Old Bushmills Distillery. Wolfson's friend, the infamous Colonel Henry Kaplan formed a new wholesale operation in the USA, Quality Importers Inc. and heavily promoting Bushmills for seventeen years and even listed Bushmills in the celebrated '21' club.
Since then, Bushmills has flourished abroad, as well as at home, and has become the sipping whiskey for the discerning drinker looking for an original choice.