This Is The Oldest Whiskey Distillery In The World

Irish whiskey distillers have been steadily perfecting their craft since the early 12th century, peddling their wares to anyone with a strong palate, or at least a current liquor license (via Forbes). And with The Guardian reporting Irish pubs in locations as remote as a sherpa town in Nepal (Guinness by the bottle, yak on the menu), or Gili Trawangan, a tiny, tropical atoll in Indonesia, the idea of Irish domination through spirits does not seem entirely unreasonable. 

"While no one knows for sure when whiskey made its debut," according to Smithsonian Magazine, "it is usually accepted that it originated in Ireland sometime in the Middle Ages — the first whiskey distillery licensed in the British Isles was Bushmills, in Northern Ireland." And while a lot has changed in the world of whiskey since those days, the Irish are sticking to a tried and true method of blending both malted and unmalted barley (a style known as "pot still" or "single pot still"), and then triple-distilling the product to create their whiskey. And word on the street is, no one's been doing it longer — legally, at least — than Bushmills.

Bushmills still parties (and distills whiskey) like it's 1608

Bushmills distillery, located in Antrim, Northern Ireland, can trace its official record back over 400 years, when the area was first given a distilling license, according to the company's website. In those days, the lush, green area consisted simply of a few mills, dotting the landscape around the River Bush — hence how the distillery got its name. As often happens when whiskey hits the scene, however, when something more exciting than grain started mixing at the mills, people began to come out of the woodwork for a taste test or two. And before you know it, a village had formed around the distillery — the village known today as Bushmills, Northern Ireland. 

In the 19th century, the Man (known in those parts as "The Crown") attempted to curb drinking by imposing a tax on malted barley, according to The Whiskey Trail. But those savvy Irish began brewing beverages with a percentage of unmalted barley instead, a process that resulted in the aforementioned "single pot still" distinction. According to the Irish Times, this type of whiskey is still exclusive to the Emerald Isle, which is what distinguishes it from, say, American or Scottish whiskey (or whisky, respectively). But Bushmills held favor with The Crown, having gained its royal license from King James in 1608 (via Whiskey Watch). Today, Bushmills continues to be a whiskey powerhouse on the island of Ireland due in part to the single malt variety of whiskey.