I went out this evening to choose my whiskey for this basho and stumbled upon a new creation by Bushmills called Irish Honey. Intrigued, I looked more closely. It promised to be a smooth drink, a Bushmills classic with a touch of honey. Quite literally, it is aged Bushmills whiskey flavored with honey.
The fellows at the check stand were intrigued as well, “You’re gonna get to taste that before I do.” said one. I liked that. The other one said, “That’ll be $23.86.” I liked this a bit less… you don’t have to pay the true Irish Honeys to bring them home with you. I know this because I’ve woken up many a time next to Sumo & Stogies’ own Irish Honey, and Connelly never charged me.
Still, at 22 bucks plus change and tax, Irish Honey seemed like a steal. I brought it home and took off the cap. My first impression was that this whiskey smelled a lot like Connelly, except sweeter: in comparison, I can’t remember why we ever called Connelly the Irish Honey, or even if we ever did.
I was worried for a moment, if Tullamore Dew smells as bad as it does yet still tastes decent enough, perhaps this Irish Honey would be smooth on the nose and rough on the tongue. I poured myself a glass, and took a sip. I noticed the honey flavoring immediately, in fact it was the only thing about the whiskey that stood out… but I liked it. Then it struck me. I knew how I would have to describe this whiskey. When I write about whiskey, I want to write those classically manly things, but with this whiskey, my first sip reminded me of a warm summer day with a gentle breeze. I imagined myself in the midst of an orchard. The after taste… was… like… a soft sunset filled with colorful clouds and a clear and pleasant memory of the warmth of day that lingers long after the light has faded to darkness.
So… not the best whiskey for inspiring a sense of manliness, at least not in the sense of manliness brought to mind by that man who once went over Niagra falls inside a barrel – apparently, you can get drunk of this whiskey, though, what am I trying to say here… – what I mean is that you don’t think about the inside of the barrel this whiskey was aged in when you drink it. On that note, it doesn’t have the memorability of Loaphroaig’s 10 Year Old Cask Strength, nor does it have the integrity of the Bushmills 10 Year Old, and it certainly lacks the intensity of Knob Creek. It doesn’t have the acerbic wit of Jameson. It is a sweet whiskey, but, I must say, its sweetness is far less claustrophobic than Maker’s Mark. It has none of the rubbing alcohol scent of Tullamore Dew, and it doesn’t have even less of the smokiness of Johnny Walker – of course not, the Irish aren’t Scotch, to be sure. But enough about what it isn’t. It does have its unique quality: it is the perfect whiskey for a day like the one its taste calls to mind.
Although it is no winter whiskey, which is to say that it would be unsatisfying on a chilly fall afternoon (Green Label is the ticket there, I think), and it would leave you downright chilly on a frigid winter’s night (Laphroaig’s 10 Year Old Cask Strength is what I want to be drinking on a night like that), on this early Spring evening, Bushmill’s Irish Honey whets the appetite for the coming summer.
Some will surely say this whiskey lacks stones, but I will say that it is best without them – it is too sensitive a whiskey to be served on the rocks, and doing so would surely ruin it. If you’re looking for a whiskey to prove your manliness to yourself through some sort of enjoyable discomfort, drink something else, but if you’re looking for a sweet summer whiskey, this isn’t bad. This Haru Basho might be a bit early to be drinking it, but its worth a try in the warmer days ahead.
Verdict: I like it, but I feel that I will be bored with it by the end of the bottle. Its a safe whiskey, easy to drink, but its taste carries no risk, and therefore tells no story. The warm summer days it calls to mind are the pleasant variety that blend together to form an impression of the season; it is an ambiance whiskey that, when drunk over a period of days or weeks, will give a pleasant, if forgettable overall impression of that time. The good news is that it is cheap enough to drink everyday for weeks on end.
So, should you choose it over Bushmills 10 Year or 16 Year? Only if you are on a budget. As a flavored whiskey, it stands in a class apart from its elder siblings. The 10 Year and the 16 Year are the ones that you remember for being great whiskeys, Irish Honey, is the one your remember for successfully tasting like honey and whiskey at the same time while still being a nice drink. I will give this whiskey a review I once gave Orion beer: there is certainly nothing wrong with it except perhaps for the fact that there is nothing wrong with it.