Irish whiskey is among the oldest, most popular, and most celebrated of the many types of whiskey in the world, and Bushmills and Jameson are two of the best to do it. This makes Bushmills vs Jameson a popular comparison. There is a long-standing argument about whether whiskey originated in Ireland or Scotland but nobody really knows. What we do know is that the earliest documentation of whiskey dates back to 1494 in the exchequer rolls from friar John Cor. However, some argue that the distilling process was brought over by monks from Ireland.
Regardless, Ireland and Scotland are recognized as the first two countries to distill whiskey. So, it should come as no surprise that two of the most popular Irish whiskey’s are largely celebrated as some of the smoothest whiskeys out there. This, however, begs the question, which is better? In this guide, we’ll cover the history, distilling process, tastes, and price differences to help you decide which is better for you.
The History of Jameson
The Jameson distillery was first founded in 1780 under the name The Stein’s Family Bow Street Distillery. Shortly after, in 1786, a man by the name of John Jameson became the general manager and in 1805 he purchased the distillery. It wasn’t until 1810 that he rebranded to The John Jameson and Sons Irish Whiskey Company. By the end of the century, Jameson was one of the largest distillers in the world and is currently the third largest single distiller of whiskey in the world.
it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows for Jameson Whiskey. In the 1900’s the Irish War of Independence halted any trade between the Irish and their British rulers. Furthermore, prohibition was just getting started in the United States which would halt any exports and sales to the states for the next 13 years. As for recent years, since 1988 to be specific, Jameson is owned by the France based liquor company, Pernod Ricard.
The History of Bushmills
The Bushmills Old Distillery Company was officially formed in 1784 by Hugh Anderson, yet you will find the year 1608 labelled on Bushmills’ bottles. In the year 1608 a license was given to a local landowner to distill whiskey. This area of land was located in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Island and sat alongside a tributary of the River Bush – a thirty three and a half mile river running through Northern Ireland. This is also where we get the name Bushmills. The River Bush provides the water source and the mills grind the barley, hence the name Bushmills.
Over the years, Bushmills Distillery has seen many changes in ownership and even a fire that laid waste to the distillery in 1885. It was quickly rebuilt, but just like Jameson, Bushmills ran into trouble in the 1920’s between the fight for independence and American prohibition. Similarly, they were one of very few distilleries to stay open during this time. Since 2014, Bushmills has been owned by Jose Cuervo after they purchased the Irish whiskey distillery from Diageo for 50% of Don Julio.
Now that we’ve covered history of both Bushmills and Jameson, it’s time to dive into what makes the two Irish whiskeys so renowned, what makes them similar, and what differentiates the two.
Bushmills vs Jameson Similarities & Differences
Bushmills and Jameson share many of the same qualities which is why these two are often compared. Most significantly, the two are triple distilled, blended, and use pot stills. Before we dive into what this all means, it’s important to understand the different kinds of Irish whiskey.
- Single Malt – Made from 100% malted barley and in a single distillery.
- Single Pot Still – Made from at least 30% malted and 30% unmalted barley, with up to 5% of other unmalted grains used and made in a single distillery.
- Single Grain – Uses no more than 30% malted barley and other whole grains and cereals and made from a single distillery.
- Blended Irish Whiskey – A blend of single malt, single grain, or single pot still Irish Whiskey.
Bushmills and Jameson are both mixtures of the first three whiskeys on the list which is why they are labeled as blended whiskeys. Furthermore, they are both triple distilled giving them a lighter and smoother finish. Many people think Irish whiskey must be triple distilled but there is, in fact, no restrictions on this. It just has become common practice for many Irish Whiskeys to be distilled three times in contrast to Scotch which is normally distilled twice.
A main difference between the two is that Jameson is a blend of single pot still whiskey and single grain whiskey, whereas Bushmills is a blend of single malt and single grain whiskey. However, Bushmills still uses the copper pot still method, they just happen to use 100% malted barley instead of the mixture that is required to be considered a pot still whiskey. Both Whiskeys are also aged in ex-bourbon and sherry casks – Bushmills for 5 years and Jameson for a minimum of 4.
Bushmills vs Jameson Taste
Now, to get into the information most people are probably looking for – the difference in taste. As previously stated, Bushmills vs Jameson have a lot in common both in their history and their distilling process. This, however, does not stop the two from having distinct profiles in aroma, taste, and finish.
Bushmills Flavor Profile
Aroma – Caramel and Aromatic
Notes – Sweet, Light, Citrus
Finish – Crisp and Fruity
Jameson Flavor Profile
Aroma – Pepper, Floral, Oak
Notes – Spicy, Nutty, Vanilla
Finish – A mellow mix of spice and honey
Summary of Bushmills vs Jameson Taste
Even though Bushmills and Jameson share a lot of properties, they each have their own distinct profiles. What really distinguishes the two are the notes. Jameson is a bit spicier and nuttier. The moment you take a sip of Jameson, you can taste the pepper that you get with the nose. The spice mellows out into a honey flavor. Bushmills, on the other hand, tends to let its flavor develop a little more over time. It starts out very light and the flavor really builds up. The fruity notes sink in a bit more to the tongue and throat and tend to have more of a lasting after taste than Jameson.
Which is Better – Bushmills vs Jameson
We’ve covered the history, distilling process, and profiles of both Bushmills and Jameson at this point, which brings us to the question – which is better, Bushmills or Jameson? This is something no one can really answer as its up to personal choice. The best way to decide is, simply, to try them both for yourself. If you are looking at trying one or the other, the best way to decide is ask yourself what you like. Do you want a spicier, stronger flavor in Jameson or something a bit lighter and fruitier.
After trying both, I prefer Bushmills to Jameson. But, like we said, this really comes down to personal preference. I have always enjoyed a light fruity flavor in all things I drink – from wine to beer and to liquor which is why I lean towards Bushmills. This is my personal opinion and it’s based upon trying the two whiskeys neat and with a splash of water; however, your preference may change based upon what you like to drink.
How to Drink Bushmills and Jameson
The taste profiles may help you decide which Irish whiskey is better for you when drinking it neat, but Bushmills and Jameson might be better or worse depending upon what it is being mixed with. So, let’s cover the most popular drinks for both Bushmills and Jameson
Popular Bushmills Drinks
- Neat, over ice, with a splash of water – This is the most popular way and with good reason. Bushmills is smooth and flavorful, and ice or water are there for those who aren’t quite ready for whiskey neat.
- Bushmills and Ginger Ale – Whiskey ginger ale is a common drink among all walks of whiskey, but pairs exceptionally well with Bushmills
- Bushmills and Apple Juice – It’s not often you hear of apple juice as a mixer, but Bushmills and apple juice (or apple flavors) mixes very well.
- Bushmills with Lemon and Syrup – Lemon and syrup typically balance each other out, and it tends to accentuate the flavors of Bushmills
- Irish Coffee – This is not limited to Bushmills but I simply could not leave it out. Hot coffee, Irish whiskey, topped with cream.
Popular Jameson Drinks
- Neat, over ice, with a splash of water, as a shot – Just like Bushmills, this is one of the best ways to enjoy Jameson. Jameson is also a very popular shot as it goes down easily.
- Irish Car Bomb – This may be the most popular, or at least the most fun and known way to drink Jameson. Half a shot of Jameson and half a shot of Bailey’s are put in a shot glass. The mixed shot is dropped into a Guinness and chugged.
- Irish Mule – Jameson, ginger beer, lime juice, and mint. An Irish mule is a great alternative to the Moscow mule made with vodka for those who prefer whiskey
- Irish Coffee – Similar to Bushmills, this is not limited to Jameson, but we had to add it on here for for a second time because Irish Coffee is that good and popular.
Bushmills vs Jameson Summary
Almost everyone who appreciates whiskey will tell you that Bushmills vs Jameson are very fine whiskeys and some of the best of Irish whiskeys. Any reasonable person will tell you that the best comes down to personal preference. As we’ve stated. the biggest difference is going to come from the taste. Jameson has a bit more spice to it while Bushmills carries a fruitier and lighter flavor. We recommend trying both as both are good and worth the price point.
Bushmills and Jameson are both 40% ABV (80 proof) and have similar price points. The price can vary depending on the store, location, and availability. A 750 ml of Bushmills and Jameson will run you around $24 or so. A 1.75 L, or a full handle, typically costs around $42.
For all intents and purposes, this post has been in reference to the original Bushmills and Jameson. Both have other options to choose from, though. For example, there is Jameson Black Barrel and Bushmills Black Bush. Both are more exquisite versions of the originals, and both are worth trying if you’re willing to spend the extra money.
Enjoy our whiskey comparisons? Check out our Jack Daniels vs Makers Mark comparison.