Uisce beatha is the name for whiskey in the Irish language. The word “whiskey” itself is simply an anglicised version of this phrase, stemming from a mispronunciation of the word uisce. This may in turn have influenced the Modern Irish word fuisce (“whiskey”). The phrase uisce beatha, literally “water of life”, was the name given by Irish monks of the early Middle Ages to distilled alcohol. It is simply a translation of the Latin “aqua vitae”.
Now owned by UK drinks giant Diageo, the Old Bushmills Distillery, based in Bushmills, Co Antrim, is the world’s oldest licensed distillery.
The Irish whiskey brand was officially given a registered trademark in 1784, yet its origins date back to 1608 when King James I granted Sir Thomas Phillips – landowner and Governor of Co Antrim – a license to distil. The distillery therefore claims to be the oldest licensed distillery currently in existence and has the date 1608 printed on its bottles.
All of the whiskey bottled under the Bushmills whiskey brand is produced at the Old Bushmills Distillery. The Bushmills brand portfolio includes five award-winning whiskies: Bushmills Original, Black Bush, Bushmills 10 Year Single Malt, Bushmills 16 Year Single Malt, Bushmills 21 Year Single Malt, Distillery Reserve, and a 12 Year Single Malt. Bushmills is the only distillery in Ireland to make triple-distilled single malt whiskey.