Northern Ireland’s Bushmills Distillery has held off fierce competition from Irish Distillers and Teeling to take the title of Wizards of Whisky Irish Distiller of the Year in what proved to be the closest contest of the Awards so far.
Seven gold medals and four silver medals were shared by the three main producers of Irish whiskey this year, with Bushmills picking up three golds for its single malt whiskeys aged 10, 16 and 21 years old.
An average of just three per cent separated the three distillers but all of Bushmills’ whiskey entries scored consistently highly.
The Bushmills victory means that over the three years of The Wizards Awards Ireland has consistently produced the tightest results. Bushmills is the third different winner in three years.
The award comes at a significant time for the distillery after it was recently sold off by Diageo to Mexican tequila giant Jose Cuervo, who described the acquisition as the ‘most important in our history’ and promised to nurture and develop the Bushmills portfolio in the future.
Reaction from Colum Egan, master distiller at Bushmills
Could you summarise the year 2014 with regard to Bushmills brands and how they fared?
2014 was another great year for us – net sales of Bushmills grew by seven per cent. This was really driven by our honey flavour innovation, Bushmills Honey, and strong performance in Russia and Eastern Europe, Germany and global travel, or duty free. Last summer we also hosted the third Bushmills Live, opening the doors of the distillery once again to stage the festival of whiskey and music, with a stellar line up – The 1975 and Tired Pony among many others.
What’s your reaction to receiving this Award and beating a significant number of other Irish whiskeys?
We’re thrilled and honoured. It’s a fantastic accolade for the team who work so hard here to ensure the consistent quality of Bushmills. We’ve been making whiskey at the Old Bushmills Distillery for centuries and the quality of our liquid is the foundation on which our success is built. So it’s fantastic to see these efforts recognised.