Ask Your Bartender: Protestant vs. Catholic Whiskey

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Hey Bartender

My South Side Irish Chicago Dad always told me that Jameson was the Catholic whisky and that Bushmills was the whiskey made by “the damn Protestants”. Now this character I met at the bar is trying to tell me it’s the other way around. Help! Who do I believe, the man who raised me, or some drunk I met in a bar? You can see why I am confused.

School Marm

Hey Marm

I was wondering when someone would ask this question. The truth of the matter is, the age-old faux-pas of ordering Bushmills for fear of supporting English aggression and offending the Republic of Ireland is about as Irish as corned beef – which is to say, not very Irish at all but rather Irish-American (Sorry, kids, corned beef is a Jewish invention).

Anyway, both of your sources are wrong, but at least your father got the order right. The widely-accepted Irish-American version is that Jameson is Catholic whiskey and Bushmills is Protestant whiskey. But that’s merely based on geography: Bushmills is from Northern Ireland (a predominantly Protestant region) and Jameson is from Cork – Catholic country.

Jameson was pretty much founded in 1780 when John Jameson – a Scottish guy – purchased the Bow Street Distillery, which at the time was one of the biggest distilleries in Ireland. Now, it’s important to note that the Scottish Reformation occurred in 1560, so odds are in favor of the founder of the Jameson distillery, being Scottish, was a damn Protestant.

Bushmills, on the other hand, was officially licensed in 1608 by King James I (of Bible fame) and despite of its location deep in the heart of Protestant country (and this next bit is straight from my local Bushmills rep, so take it or leave it) has a Catholic as a master distiller.

According to everyone I’ve spoken with on the subject, you only really find this debate in the States, where Irish-American support of the Republic can sometimes be blind and often fueled by the very product we’re speaking of. But none of it means much, anyway: both distilleries are owned by huge international entities: Jameson by French liquor conglomerate Pernod-Ricard, and Bushmills by the English firm Diageo.

As for my preference, I tend to like the lighter Bushmills as it’s the first Irish whiskey I discovered years ago, and I’ve certainly enjoyed my share of Jameson from time to time. But my personal preference is Redbreast, a twelve-year pot still Irish whiskey produced at the Old Midleton Distillery and a real delight to sip while enjoying a late-night Irish breakfast of sausage, egg, pudding and soda bread. Delicious.

176 Replies to “Ask Your Bartender: Protestant vs. Catholic Whiskey”

  • R.C. says:

    Extensive survey-polling from both sides of the Atlantic reveals the following:

    1. Of the self-identified Catholics who expressed a desire to drink “Catholic whiskey, not damned Protestant whiskey,” 97.326% of them had attended Mass fewer than 10 times in the preceding 12 months; and 95.719% could not meaningfully distinguish between the Calvinist, Lutheran, Zwinglian, and Catholic understandings of Holy Communion when given a multiple-choice question.

    2. Of the self-identified Protestants who expressed a desire to drink “Protestant whiskey, not Idolatrous Papist whiskey,” 96.917% of them had spent 50%+ of the preceding Sunday mornings fishing, golfing, or shouting epithets at referees and other children’s parents at a junior-league sporting-event, and 97.632% could not meaningfully distinguish between Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Joel-Osteenian understandings of Justification when given a multiple-choice question.

    3. Of the remaining 3-ish percent of Catholics and Protestants, who all knew and embraced their respective doctrinal traditions, and yet still verbally expressed a desire to drink “X whiskey, not Y whiskey,” they were all (to a man) sitting across the table from a mix of Catholic and Protestant friends while saying it, and said it with a mischievous grin and a twinkling eye, before going on to indiscriminately buy a round for all their friends, and to drink whatever the hell sounded good. (Teetotaling old-school Baptists excepted; they mostly shrugged and bought ginger ale.)

    Armed with these meticulously-researched and scrupulously-tabulated findings, what can we learn?

    Mostly that, even five centuries after the fracturing of Christendom, the kind of comity and good-humor which best reflects the love of God is most often found in persons who’ve expended effort to love God and neighbor, in accord with whatever light they’ve been given.

    Meanwhile, the kinds of persons who loudly fetishize old wounds while treating religion as a kind of marketing-slogan or pop-fandom generally haven’t the faintest idea what they’re talking about.

    “Here endeth the lesson.”

  • Rit Starling says:

    Just saw this What horrible shallowness. Not much wonder we still have problems here. I live close to Bushmills, & actually worked some years in the distillery. Wonderful human beings one & all. Old Bushmills is now owned by Jose Cuervo. Bushmills, uniquely among the well established distilleries in Ireland is a single malt or a blend incorporating single malt. The other big name on the island…Jameson….does not produce single malts. Their’s are Single Potstill, or a blend incorporating same. No Scottish distilleries use the Single Potstill production method, only the Malts – but that’s a different but fascinating debate. There are a number of brands in the same ownership as Jameson- Redbreast, Powers, Midleton & all the famous Spot Irish whiskies. All produced at Midleton Distillery, Cork – arguably the largest distillery in the British Isles. Midleton is owned by Pernod Ricard, who took over Irish Distillers some years back. (ID also used to own Bushmills). To introduce religion into this special space is quite monstrous, & is unhelpful to the situation here. Just relax, enjoy Irish Whiskey – the best in the world.

  • Mo Chara says:

    Whiskey is whiskey. This is the kind of trivial differences the British encourage to maintain control over their colonies. Tiocfaidh ár lá, get the Brits out!!

  • Alastair McCarroll says:


    I’m impressed at the accuracy and detail of all this. I get asked about this now and again and I basically say the exact same thing. And written way back in 2009 before my journey into whiskey even began…fantastic stuff as always!

  • Padraig says:

    A fair amount of nonsense in some of these replies. Being RC from Ulster, I’ve had Jameson (and other Cork products) in plenty of Prod pubs (whether in Belfast or elsewhere) and plenty of Bushmills in RC pubs (whether in Dublin or in staunch republican areas of Cork, Kerry, and elsewhere), and never been hassled over it.

  • Chris Neilson says:

    The fact that this blog has been going for so very long tells me the myth is true. It may not be factual, verified, or correct, but definitely true. It makes things interesting. The version that I’m familiar with is, of course Jamison is Catholic and Bushmills is Protestant. The other part is that Powers is for everyone else who just doesn’t give a f**k. Drink what you drink and like what you like. Have a good one.

  • Russ von Hagen says:

    Whiskey has no religion. It is either good or it is not. All Irish whiskey is great. No matter where it is produced. Support the old sod. All of it. Slainte.

  • Russ von Hagen says:

    All Irish whiskey is great. It is a distinct and beautiful expression of the craft. To inject religion into the discussion demeans the very simple fact that whiskey has no religion despite the understandable biases of the past. The truth is that great whiskey is produced in both the north and south of Ireland. And we should all be thankful for this.

  • Shane O’Gallagher says:

    Hi, I actually know the reason behind the controversy. I’m Irish American and I volunteered for both Sinn Féin and Irish Northern aide. There was a big banner from the 80’s in one of our meeting rooms that read “boycott bushmills they discriminate” because they were from the north they didn’t use to hire catholic workers. It wasn’t an issue about who owns what.

  • Sean says:

    I can solve this argument. Whiskey is Catholic. Gin with a lime is Protestant.

  • Robert Strachan says:

    I grew up in NYC with this popular myth engrained on my conciousness. I was a bartender in NY in the early 90’s and in 98 moved to Kinsale Cork and bartended their for 4 yrs.
    When I explained this myth to customers in Ireland they all had a good laugh. One good friend turned to me and chuckled. He said, “I guess they will have to be giving up the Guiness as well? Arthur Guinness was definitely Protestant And a Unionist.” He was adamantly against Home Rule as well. So any Americans who believe this, should change to Murphy’s at once😃

  • Barton Lane says:

    I visited Bushmills Distillery, and they were bottling both Bushmills and Jameson in the same facility!! Go figure ….

  • Bill Johnston says:

    Looking for Irish Whiskey to use in a recipe for bread pudding I paid a visit to our local liquor store and inquired as to the best Irish Whiskey available. The young fella attending to the store asked if I wanted Catholic or Protestant then he placed a two bottles of Bushmills on the counter one plain and one Black label.

  • Alastair says:

    Some of the comments here are totally rediculous. Lived in Ireland my whole life and as an avid whiskey drinker, both scotch and Irish, I’ve never encountered that conversation. For the record I have had many a session all over the island both North and south. It’s an American argument that doesn’t carry weight here, whiskey is whiskey. If it was a genuine issue then bars wouldn’t serve both.

  • T. Mallon says:

    Well, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, you’ve clearly never been to a privately owned Irish Catholic pub. If you had and asked for Bushmills, you would have received a long stare and possibly been asked to leave. Yes, it is definitely misguided, even nuts, but it’s not a myth. Stick to the booze recommendations, the mixed drink recipes, and the things you have first-hand experience with.

  • Thomas Schmidt says:

    The fact is that Jameson is the Catholic whiskey and Bushmills is the Protestant whiskey and this is according to people I know That live in Belfast. Not that it really matters.

  • Lex says:

    I was playing golf in Ireland, and I asked my caddy what was his favorite whiskey. He replied, Bushmills. I said, so you’re Protestant? He said, no, I’m Catholic, but I was born and raised in the town of Bushmills!

  • Tamara says:

    As a bartender years ago in Chicago I was told “When stocking your liquor on the back of the bar. Bushmills on one end, Jameson’s on the other. Do not place them next to each other. That was over 40 years ago.

  • Mark says:

    I drink and enjoy both, but based on my experience(s) in Ireland let’s just say watching you order a Bushmills in Dublin would be very entertaining.

  • Tom Baldwin says:

    Jameson was a Dublin Whidkey but it was Protestant. The Catholic Whiskey in Dublin was John Powers.
    Get your facts right !

  • Scotty says:

    As a Scotsman living in Scotland, I’d say I f you’re worried about the religion of your whiskey then perhaps you shouldn’t be drinking. As far as I know, spirit doesn’t really care which way you worship your ‘sky-fairy’.

    For the record, despite the Scottish reformation, that doesn’t mean Jamieson was a Proddy. There was still a lot of Catholics in Scotland. After all, that’s what the Jacobites were all about.

    Religion and booze don’t go well together so it’s a subject that perhaps should be avoided. You’d probably get glassed if you asked the question in certain places in Ireland or Scotland.

  • Cato says:

    Wonderful thread.
    Personal life experience. Father’s side Ulster….ancestors to America ca 1719. My growing up years…not virulently anti catholic just plain anti-catholic. Raised going to church every goddamned Sunday. Methodist and Presbyterian. Despised it. 17-18 years old found the love of my life…a catholic girl. Parents did their best to kill that…and they did.

    Fast forward 60 years. I don’t give a rip shit about religion and in fact LOATHE the typical evangelical protestant types like Swaggart, Murdoch etc. Will never forgive parents.
    Now as far as whiskey goes, I’m a newbie to Irish stuff but tend to love it all since I am a hard drinker for 6 plus decades. I’m trying one at a time to see what I prefer. Starting with Bushmills which I am using as a warm up to my usual Wild Turkey 101. I like it very much and find it very smooth…almost like a scotch.
    Over and out.

  • Matthew Smith says:

    in response to Irish whiskey is it catholic or protestant is irrelevant it is who is drinking it. Whiskey takes no sides and is drank by all Catholic, Protestant, Hebrew, Atheist, etc. So bottoms up

  • jP says:

    Had drinks in the Irish Embassy (in Korea) as an invited Englishman. The Ambassador had both Jameson and Bushmills on offer. She didn’t give a toss about anyone’s religion, let alone the whiskey’s.

  • MiGWind says:

    Tulley Dew 10 Year Single Malt! What a treat.

  • Liam mcavoy says:

    I was born in buncrana moved to Derry then to Belfast and am now living in the uk I’m Catholic and I must say I prefer Bushmills to Jameson’s although I’ve been a life Long fan of Jameson’s it doesn’t matter whether your Hun or teag drink what you like don’t bring sectarianism into it it’ll spoil the taste

  • Aidan says:

    Can’t comment on the long term contract in Cork as I hadn’t heard that, but I assume they have some sort of get out clause if there is a contract.

    They have started construction now on a grain still on site now which means that the full three components of the blend will be produced in Tullamore. This was a long term plan but they’ve brought it forward by about 8-10 years. The new bottling hall is also taking shape even though it’ll be a while before the on site whiskey will be bottled. Maybe they will bottle the Cork supply in Tullamore in the interim.

  • Martin says:

    Very true Aidan.

    As for the Tullamore Dew, it actually is the perfect mingling of North & South, since the pot still & grain comes from Midleton in Cork and the single malt is distilled at Bushmills (then aged down at LDI). Those whiskeys seem to get along just fine!

    I hear that William Grant & Sons has a contract with LDI to have Tullamore Dew produced in Cork until 2025, so they will have to either be creative to release anything from the new distillery or have some mighty fine aged whiskey come the latter half of the next decade.

    Happy Holidays all!

  • Aidan says:

    The new Tullamore Dew distillery is up and running the past 2 years and back in Tullamore town. They’ve also started work on a massive bottling plant on site to bring all areas of Dew production back to the town.

    As regards the Catholic v Protestant whiskey debate. Who really cares. I’m sure there were dodgy discriminatory practices based on race or religion in most big corporations in many countries in the past. As long as it’s no longer going on in the company today then enjoy.

    • MGsilll hoe to thos says:

      My wife has just blown raspberries on my belly whilst I’ve been reading this crap – seriously it doesn’t matter which type of sky fairy you believe in – bushmills black label vs tulamore dew is a close run thing and depends on how and what mood you’re in rather that some stupid pagan affiliation

  • Karen says:

    Just got back from Dublin yesterday & loved reading the post & all the comments here. I’m not surprised this thread is still going strong.
    Didn’t think I liked any kind of whiskey until last week when I asked our waitress at Murray’s to bring me something Irish…she brought me Jameson’s on the rocks along w/ a small bottle of ginger ale & a lime. I tasted the Jameson’s before I poured in any ginger ale & so glad I did, Irish whiskey is sooooo much better IMHO than Scotch or bourbon IMHO. Spent the rest of the week getting to know Irish whiskey & came home w/ small bottles of Irish Whiskeys I wasn’t sure I could get in the US so I could continue my coyage of discovery at home. Currently sipping on a Writers Tears neat & have two types of Teeling, The Irishman single malt, The Irishman Founders’ Reserve, a 12 y/o Redbreast, a GreenSpot single pot, a Powers’ John Lane Release, a Middleton Barry Crockett Legacy, a 12 y/o Jameson Special Reserve, & a Green Spot still to try. I was told by one Irishman the RedBreast would change my life and another one told me that The Irishman Founders’ Reserve would do the same. Can’t wait to find out.
    The whole time I was in Dublin (or even while I was Belfast) I never once heard anyone say anything about any whiskey having a religion. Also absolutely no one gave a rat’s ass what my religion is & Dublin is currently commemorating the Easter Rising centennial! Peter Knox hit the nail on the head in #103 & Hey Bartender is right, giving a crap about what religion founded a whiskey’s distillery is about as authentically Irish as corned beef…FYI: not a single Irish person I spoke to knew had ever heard of corned beef, it wasn’t in the grocery stores & certainly not on any menus.

  • Marty D. says:

    Yep, this goes back to when Bushmills was still part of IDL (Irish Distillers Limited) and owned by Pernod. They also bottle Powers & Paddy’s as well. Bushmills, in turn, supplies the Midleton Distillery with single malt, which they use to make Tullamore DEW. Very easy arrangement.

    Can’t believe this discussion thread is still going on since 2009! Jeffrey, isn’t there an expiration date to such things? 😉

    • DDennisD says:

      Do note that the greatest tv show of all time, “The Wire”, always showed the Baltimore cops ordering Jameson in the bars, and the “hero”, McNulty, becomes indignant when only Bushmills is available at a party’s open bar – ( I guess most of the cops were Irish – Catholic ), so traditions prevailed…

  • Bob61571 says:

    To make it even crazier…..

    Went on the Bushmills tour in November 2015. 1 line was bottling Bushmills. 2nd line was bottling Jameson. Asked the guide about it. He said Jameson trucks it up there when Jameson is at capacity, and Bushmills has the resources to do it. Simple business transaction where both sides benefit.

  • BZ says:


  • O'Cinneide says:

    Just a point, Jameson is traditionally a Dublin Whiskey, originally distilled and blended in Bow Street in dublins Smithfield. This is now a historical landmark.

    Jameson was moved down to cork and is my distilled in Middleton, though I believe it is blended in Clondalkin, which is a Dublin suburb

  • joe says:

    Powers gold label is absolute shit. bushmills / black bush or a shirley bassey as we call it is by far thwe superior whisky in the lower price range.

  • LR says:

    Wow, this was such a fun read through. Thanks all for your comments. Bushmills was my first taste of Irish Whiskey. Still love it. Hats off to all the others. Nostrovia!!

  • l'œuf says:

    Drink yer drink and shut yer yap.

  • Jeffrey J says:

    I became a Whiskey drinker a few years back now, and started with Jameson. Found it very smooth to the tongue. Now I have a different taste preference and enjoy Bushmills in the warmer months and back to Jameson when it gets a chill in the air. I even have taken a liking to Bushmills Irish Honey when I’m in a cocktail mood.Not being Irish and not wanting to get political. I can just say Cheers!

  • Burnsy says:

    @Darby O’Gill. I’m sorry but if not drinking a brand of whiskey for some very spurious political reason, and claiming drinking Bushmills somehow condones an Irishman losing his land seems pretty idiotic to me. The date of 1608 doesn’t even specifically relate to that brand but that a license was granted in somewhere in that general area.

    Your grandfather may have lost friends back in the early 20th century to the Black & Tans and i’m sorry to hear that, but guess what? I’ve lost members of my family to the IRA in THIS generation. But NONE of this has anything to do with Whiskey brands and everything to do with prejudices. Bushmills didn’t support the Black & Tans anymore than Jamesons supported the IRA!

    They are just businesses making whiskey. One happens to be located in a majority Protestant area and one located in a majority Catholic area, big deal!

    Also, you ask what in the heck does Virginia have to do with Kentucky Bourbon? Well Kentucky used to be part of the state of Virginia, but that doesn’t mean you blame the whiskey for something that happened in that state.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts about jeff.

  • Tom Brown says:

    BTW, while traveling through a Protestant section of Belfast, our tour guide (who had a joke or good story for most Irish traditions) pointed out a notorious Loyalist Bar…”That bar there (the Hideout)was blown up many times by the IRA during “the Troubles.” Then he went on to say, “If you’re ever down and out and ready to end it all, and cash in your chips, go in that bar there and order a double Jameson, and you’ll find somebody in there to help you with your problem.”

  • Tom Brown says:

    There is no doubt that the Irish themselves know all about the “Catholic Whiskey” and the “Protestant Whiskey.” Jameson is the “Catholic Whiskey,” and Bushmills is the “Protestant Whiskey.”

  • Michael MacNeil says:

    I met Noel Campbell owner of Bushmills he told me it does not matter what foot you you Wear your shoe on. 1996 in coal harbour Vancouver BC

  • Darby O'Gill says:

    @Burnsy and Andrew: I don’t drink Guiness or Jameson (for those particular reasons) I drink Paddy’s or Powers Whiskey and Murphy’s Stout!!!! Also, show some class fellas (Burnsy calling me an idiot) my grandfather who is from Tipperary lost friends because of the Black and Tans (you know the English convicts the English government set upon the Irish), in some cases they were beaten to death!! Also, what in the heck does Virginia have to do with Kentucky Bourbon???

  • andrew gaskn says:

    Such crap why are all these experts so called Irishmen living in US. A bunch of bigoted b######s arguing over the religion of whiskey. Why even Arthur Guinness was a prod.

  • Burnsy says:

    @Darby )’Gill: What a load of nonsense! The plantation of Ulster started in 1609, and BTW that very same King (James I) planted the Jamestown settlement in Virginia two year previous in 1607. So by your logic it is fair to say that ‘Every time you raise a glass of American Bourbon you are in essence raising a glass to an Native American losing his land (and in MOST cases his life) to British/American rule!!’… Idiot!! Oh, by the way, John Jameson was a protestant Scottish planter in Ireland, so shouldn’t you be boycotting his whiskey also?

  • Darby O'Gill says:

    Every time you raise a glass of Bushmills you are in essence raising a glass to an Irishman losing his land (and in some cases his life) to British rule!! Also, your giving Prince Harry more money to go on vacation, maybe Vegas again perhaps?

  • Darby O'Gill says:

    The date 1608 listed all over the Bushmills bottle is not only the date The King of England allowed distilling to take place in Northern Ireland it is also the date “the plantation of Ulster” began. “The Plantation of Ulster” is when the King of England gave lands away in Northern Ireland to the English that originally belonged to the Irish

  • Bruce says:

    Powers is good and inexpensive but 2 Gingers is better then them all and reasonably priced!!!

  • mick o'neill says:

    Bushmills isn’t produed “deep in the heart of protestant country” it’s produced on the north coast which is mixed catholic and protestant, sure the catholic stronghold Glens of Antrim are down the road

  • jts vakia says:

    Catholic and Slovak-American, my personal preference is Jamesons.

  • Doc says:

    When it comes to what crosses my lips I guess I am an agnostic. Been sipping since I was a wee-lad and have tried lots of whiskey with leanings towards both Irish whiskey and Single malt Scotches. Along with a fellow sipper we have over most of the Irish brands listed here in this thread as part of a 30+ years Christmas gift exchange and tasting session. Spent a crap of $$$ too so we could compare them all side by side. I think the Middleton hurt my wallet the most. Bottom line Bushmill’s 16 yr has won my top pick in Irish whiskey over the 21 yr and Middleton’s, Redbreast and all the others. It has earned a permanent place in my cabinet right next to my Glenrothes 1995 which I prefer over all the other SM brands including MacAllan 18 & 25. Though I guess that’s for a different forum

  • jts vakia says:

    Jameson’s for sure. One of the best whiskys I have ever drank. I am Catholic and Slovak and do not care what the British have done to the Irish. It is the same oppression that the Hungarians did to the Slovaks over the ages!!!!!

  • JariK says:

    Bushmills is distilled in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. In whiskey world Northern Ireland is considered to be part of the irish island so no reason to judge Bushmills to be protestant or not.

    And as you can check from the email address I come from Finland, a protestant country. Yet a great friend of Catholic Ireland. And good whiskey.

    But in Falls Road and Shankill Road it is not really about religion, is it?

  • JamesR says:

    Whiskey hasn’t got a religion. This is coming from a protestant raised irish man from the local area. For one, Jameson and Bushmills trade casks and some Jamesons bottles are bottled in the Bushmills distillery as well as knowing many a catholic who have worked there over the years. Don’t be so ignorant as to think about whether a whiskey is protestant or catholic…idiot.

  • JimREsq says:

    What is the lore and legend and reputation of Tullamore Dew?

  • Newfoundland Left-Footer says:

    I come from an island which has been called the most Irish place outside of Ireland and we’ve had our papist-loyalist troubles in the past, where they will remain. We’re not bothered by any of that old bullshit now.
    I’m after trying many whiskies and Jamesons Gold is my current favourite, if a bit spendy. I also like Writer’s Tears, Bushmills and the Redbreast (12 more so than the 15). I have a bottle of Midleton stashed away for a special occasion and I keep a bottle of Kilbeggan for my go-to whiskey.
    I’m married to a Protestant and my best friend and fellow whiskey hound is a also one. None of that means shit. Enjoy your whiskey and spare a kind word for everyone. Being good to people is the very best thing you can do for yourself.

  • Oops says:

    Sorry, but I have always loved them both. 12 years of Catholic school in Queens, NY – which is probably why I’ve been a Buddhist for the last 35+. Anyhow, being 2nd generation American with grandparents from Greece, Ireland & England, I come from a long line of short, fat, peasant stock (with alcoholic tendencies, thank you). In all the pubs in NYC, no one seemed to really care – that I noticed from either side of the bar. The worst mistake I made was ordering a Bass Ale in PJ Horgans on Queens Blvd. one night. The waitress stared at me, and said in her thick brogue, “This is an IRISH pub.” I looked at her and said, “okay, I’ll have a Harp.” Here in Montana, that conversation wouldn’t have made any sense. Now I need to locate Redbreast!

  • Burnsy says:

    @Allen: That’s just my point. I do believe Irishness & Irish politics is whitewashed for Americans and presented from a certain political viewpoint. I am pretty sure that if you visited the Guinness brewery in Dublin your guide would not have mentioned the fact about the company’s discrimination against Catholics, let alone advise on boycotting it. This is because Guinness is now seen as a world-wide iconic Irish brand and brings in lots of money to the southern Irish economy. Whereas Bushmills is seen (by some) as British because it is located in Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK)and there is a political bias against it from some quarters. Bushmills is very proud of it’s long Irish heritage and yes it’s head distiller is catholic but if someone wants to boycott this whiskey, not for taste, but simply because it is situated in an area populated mainly by Protestants then they are the one with the problem.

  • Allen says:

    I’m not sure that it says anything more than that it isnt a strictly American argument.

    Not sure what Guinness has to do with this, but your claim goes against everything we were taught about him, but maybe history is just whitewashed for us Yanks.

  • Burnsy says:

    @Allen: I think it show more the bigoted nature of your tour guide than it does Bushmills. There was an Irish-American lobby group headed by a politician that was running for mayor that started a whole anti-Bushmills campaign in San Francisco in the early 90’s claiming that the company never hired Catholics, a convenient attract Irish-American votes. That was in fact untrue. And while the distillery had a larger proportion of Protestants than Catholics, this was down to the demographics of the area in which the town of Bushmills is situated which is largely a protestant area and the employment status reflects that. Just as in an area which is largely Catholic you would expect most employees to be Catholic. The Fair Employment Commission gave Bushmills a clean bill of health. Bushmills released a statement saying:”It’s just one of the outrageous statements put about in an attempt to blacken our name. We intend to vigorously defend our position. All appointments are made solely on the basis of merit.”. Of course with these kind of things mud tends to stick and some Irish-Americans wouldn’t let the facts get in the way of a good anti-British story.

    One company that undeniably did discriminate against Catholics though was Guinness in Dublin yet i don’t see any boycotts in place for that. It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Guinness is in the Republic of Ireland and Bushmills is in Northern Ireland would it?

  • Allen says:

    We were up near Bushmills this past summer during our Ireland vacation (on our way from Belfast to The Causeway) and our Tipperary-based guide recommended not stopping there due to the company’s historic treatment of Catholics. He’s either the only Irishman who believes this or some in this thread are misinformed.

    It was fine w me, because the Jameson Distillery tour was fantastic.

  • Burnsy says:

    I often wonder why those Irish-Americans (usually in Irish bars of Boston or New York)who bring up this absurd and frankly bigoted discussion about Protestant & Catholic whiskey do not apply the same rule when it comes to drinking that most Irish of drinks Guinness…. Arthur Guinness was a Protestant and a Unionist. He was anti-Republican and his family was instrumental in organising the Orange Order in Dublin! Should these facts come into the discussion when considering whether or not to indulge in a pint of the creamy delicious black stuff!? Only if you are an idiot!

  • Tony says:

    As a good Roman Catholic, I’ve always raised my Jameson in tribute to my Irish Catholic brethren (actually I like Jameson a little more than Bushmills anyway) until, on a recent trip to Ireland with my Irish-American Wife (nee Powers), I bought a bottle of Redbreast on a lark. Nice lark, it is my “keeper” whiskey (special occasion), while Powers is now my “everyday” spirit. If I had a choice between Macallan 18 and Redbreast, think I’d stay Irish.

  • Kelly says:

    Look for a new addition to the landscape, The Irishman “Original Clan” & Single Malt. Currently rumored to be building a new distillery…

    Triple distilled, the Irish way!

  • Martin says:

    Well, I already put my two cents in well up the thread, but here is some topical good news for the distillery in the North…2013 Spirit of the Year: Bushmills

    Cheers all!

  • Michael says:

    Having just had this discussion with my buddy who was bribed with a bottle of Bush to express his love of it via twitter (which he refused, good man that he is) I have to say the following-

    I’ve always preferred the non-woodsy irish Whiskeys so Powers, Knappogue, Red Breast, and recently the “Spots” have been my drink of choice and never was a fan of bushmills. But it was mentioned in passing at several rural pubs in co. Mayo and Sligo that Bushmills was “loyalist swill”, all in good fun I’m sure but it’s not limited to plastic paddies.

  • GMadigan says:

    #103. Peter Knox – I’d be all up for emigrating from US to Ireland, in a heartbeat, but I read about the job prospects there are as bad (possibly worse) than here. Besides, I’d have to prove I can fill a job where the company can’t find a local. Do you have a clue what an ol’ Yankee could do there for wages? A Mac computer geek that’s too young to retire and too old for male prostitution.

    In the mean time, the closest I can get to Ireland is my Bushmills and Guinness at night, and Kerrygold butter on toast for breakfast.

    While we’re tossing around personal stories, about 20 years ago I met some younger guys from Glasgow at a local pub, and I mentioned how I knew that neither Scotland nor Ireland were altogether warm with England, but I didn’t know how the Irish and Scots felt about each other.

    One of them said, “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.”

    “Ah. I see.” Enough said I thought, and bought the next round.

  • jonnyF says:

    I agree with Robert McHardy above. I am Northern Irish and really only see this being an Irish American issue. Like seriously – you hate us so much you wont drink our whiskey??? Thats like native Americans boycotting jack Daniels because of American colonialism. Please remember quite a few of you presidents from Grant to Clinton descended from this part of the world. Drink which ever you palette desires!! Not what religion you think a whiskey holds.

  • Peter Knox says:

    American Irish wanabees..

    Come back if yer all so fucken proud. There’s not catholic or protestant whiskey. There’s Whiskey and a prod or a catholic will drink it either way.

    dumb fucks

  • Guzzi Bill says:

    @ 90.

    Theo, my good but misguided man.

    You say “What can one expect from people [Italians] who prefer grappa to the true ‘Water of Life’?”

    To continue the original theme of this thread — religion — IMO, grappa proves the existence of God. 🙂

    Seriously (though I actually was), I very much appreciated the original article, as I had had often wondered about that “Jamesons = Catholic; Bushmills = Protestant thing.

    And, many thanks to (nearly) all of those who offered comments. Interesting and often amusing reading of so many perspectives.

    Now, go have some grappa with an espresso this evening. Don’t fall for those expensive effete offerings. The cheap rustic stuff is often the best. OK, OK, can be pretty good … and certainly much cheaper.

    Think of it as going to church. 😉

    Thanks again for this essay and the add-on comments.


  • Poiteen says:

    I come from the border and powers was the biggest seller by ten to one over any other whiskey,jemmy was next ,bush mills was not even on the optics and it was all about their hiring practices of workers and not the religion of their owners

  • Poiteen says:

    I come from the border and powers was the biggest seller by ten to one over any other whiskey,jemmy was next ,bush mills was not even on the optics and it was all about their hiring practices of workers and not the religion of their owners

  • Jim O'Dhalaigh says:

    Powers is readily available in the Balto/Wash area. Generally, it is a little less expensive than Jameson. If you ever try a more exclusive blend or a single malt, don’t dare poison it with ginger ale 🙂

  • Jen says:

    Glad to see this thread still going.

    Question, in the US, is Powers readily available? Up here in Canada (BC) it’s quite difficult to find. The only option is to import a case in through the provincial liquor stores at about $35 CAD per bottle.

    I’m also a bit confused on the “cheap” part. Last I was in Ireland, about three weeks ago, I bought two bottles at a shop for €22 each. Not what I would call a cheap whisley, albeit there are many out there that can cost a fair penny more.

    As someone who drinks her whiskey with ginger ale and a slice of lime, I definitely vote Powers over any other. And not to get too specific, but given the choice, Irish Canandian Dry in the clear glass bottle (opposed to the green bottle or Finches).

  • Darby O'Gill says:

    My grandfather lost friends due to the awful abuses that were brought upon the Irish in the Republic by the English’s Black and Tans, rumor has it the original owner of Bushmills was granted the right to distill due to the fact he helped suppress the Irish in the north from uprising against the British. I’m not sure if this is truth or myth but I cannot drink Bushmills due to there even being a chance of truth in that because of the awful stories I heard about those F&$@$&$ convicts (the black and tans) the Brits let loose on the people of Ireland

  • Argus says:

    Re: Corned Beef.

    It is not Jewish.

    “Cured beef” appeared in many cultures and has no clear beginning. “Corned beef” as it exists today is an industrial product which was created during the British Industrial Revolution, with production centred around Ireland.

  • Linelle says:

    Today in Trader Joe’s, the checker looked at my bottle of Bushmills and then at me and asked, “Catholic or Protestant?” I had never heard that one before. I answered, “Episcopalian” because we think of ourselves as both and neither. 🙂

    In April I went to Jerusalem. I took a fifth of Bushmills with me in my checked luggage. It was a big hit with my fellow pilgrims.

  • Martin says:

    I believe that Germany is the largest market for Tullamore Dew, followed by many of the Eastern European countries. Though Bushmills is the #2 Irish whiskey in the U.S., Tullamore Dew is #2 Irish whiskey (after Jameson) worldwide, so not too surprising that you would see it most places. You may see the Co. Offaly whiskey grow even more now that William Grant & Sons owns it, and will be building the new distillery soon. Though it is good to remember that Bushmills & Jameson were selling about even worldwide up until the mid/late 1990s, before Pernod decided to put all of its eggs in the Jameson basket. Still enjoy the Black Bush and the Bushmills 16yr.

  • Joe Lochte says:

    Several years ago, I worked in Bulgaria and a couple of other Balkan republics; and found to my surprise that Irish Whiskey is somewhat popular there, though far outpaced by the ubiquitous Balkan hard liquors Rakija and Mastika. However, the only brand of Irish I ever saw in the Balkans was Tullamore Dew. And it was always welcomed as a special Balkan business bestowal, to grease whatever wheels needed turning.

  • Thomas O'Brien says:

    I am not surprised that this thread is 6 years old and still going strong. I’ve worked my way through nearly all the brands mentioned here and yet consistently return to my beloved Jameson 12 neat. Powers is for shooting, some of the swill mentioned here is OK for mixing and when I want a little variety, I go for a double Connemara 12 — never get tired of the peated smoothness and wonderful finish. A friend of mine hooked me on “Jerry’s Drink” which is 1 part Jameson 12, 1 part Irish Mist and a quick splash of 7-up or Sprite. Delicious!

  • I_Fortuna says:

    I completely understand what Matt is saying regarding religious intolerence. (Ref. post number 66). I live in a small town in Texas, I am Catholic and I am treated as if I am a leper. There is only one Catholic church in my town the rest are Baptist or other protestant. My mother, an Irish protestant spoke hatred against the Catholics. These ideas still run deep and there are still a lot of untrue things people believe about Catholics. Mostly only Catholics or the nonreligious drink here. Period. There are many places in the States where old ideas hold fast including the brand of Ouisge Beatha you drink. Just setting the record straight. I am for Bushmills especially sprinkled over banana bread. : )

  • Theo macConnell Jr. says:

    William Riley, well said, man. Contrary and challenging to the end- does this not sum up the Celtic spirit, whatever its origin or leaning?

    An Italian friend, when introduced to the term ‘Uiske Beatha’ thought the word was ‘bad water’ and now refers to it as Aqua Sporca or ‘dirty water’. I’ve tried to correct his misinterpretation but he thinks his name is funnier. What can one expect from people who prefer grappa to the true ‘Water of Life’?

  • Although I prefer my BUSHMILLS
    neat, I take Jameson if Bushmills is not available.
    I ‘rag on” about “political whisky” to those who are “green ” only on the 17th and 18th of March….Hell, I even
    wear my orange on St. Patrick’s
    and my green on July 12th. The fun is is teasing those who do not know/care to understand.
    I have even concocted a drink for St. Patrick’s day,. It is calles an ORANGEMAN…has nothing to do with Syracuse University….

    In a TALL glass….one shot of
    TRIPLE SEC, 2 shots of BUSHMILLS,
    top off with chilled pulpy orange juice, AND stir lightly ..

    you may add crushed ice if you desire

    William Riley

  • Martin says:

    In 1998 Bushmills was part of IDL, which owned all the whiskies coming out of Ireland with the excpetion of the few from Cooley. To this day, even though IDL sold the Bushmills distillery to Diageo a number of years ago, the bottling facility at Bushmills still handles some of the bottling of Jameson, Powers & Paddy’s. This is part of a long standing agreement from the old IDL days. Bushmills also provides single malt for Powers, while Midleton (where many of teh Irish whiskies are produced) provides grain whiskey for the Bushmills blends. It is all quite harmonious between the distilleries.

  • Regis Martin says:

    Good evening All,
    Not sure this is the right spot, but an Irish colleague and I, had this debate last week around Bushmills v Jameson in an Irish pub, here in New York.
    I am definitively a black bush person but I was mentioning that while spending a lot of time in Ireland back in 1998, I saw, while visiting the Bushmills’ distillery, cartons of Jameson bottles on the bottling chain.
    And I was not drunk !!! as the visit was ending up with only 3 tiny plastic glasses – half full.
    Does anyone know why these bottles were over there ?
    Any particular reason why in 1998-1999 Bushmills would have distilled of at least bottle up for Jameson ?????

  • Joshua says:

    I’ve enjoyed most Irish whiskey I’ve sampled, including Power’s, Tully, and Bushmill’s. But I must say my absolute preference is Jameson 18 yr old. Yes it is a bit heavier than most Irish whiskey, but I appreciate the depth and nuanced flavors. I’m a man who likes to know what he is drinking. And to those who don’t know, that hint of bourbon flavor comes from the fact that Jameson’s is aged in used American bourbon barrels as are most Irish whiskeys. Bourbon distillers only use barrels once, as the liquor gets its distinct flavor and color from the oak. Irish whiskeys obtain much of their flavor and color from the coating left inside the barrel from the bourbon aging process. As most Irish distillers use their barrels more than once, the color and bourbon flavor is thinned a bit once blended. As Jameson only uses the bourbon barrels once, the color and flavor is more reminiscent of American bourbon. Class dismissed.

  • Darragh says:

    1 pint of stout and a half’un of Jameson.. Argument ended..

  • Bob Zed says:

    Jameson is the Catholic whiskey, Bushmills is the Protestant one, despite the efforts of the Bushmills PR department to spin it otherwise. Bushmills, which refused to hire Catholics for many years has been actively trying to recruit Catholic employees of late, because the pay a wee tax penalty for lack of diversity in their workforce.

  • Jim O'Dhalaigh says:

    @Rob: my scotch comment was “tongue-in-cheek”. Prefer the Irish whiskey’s but never met a single malt I didn’t savor. Really liked Knockando but I haven’t seen it around in some time. Slainte’

  • Rob Lowrie says:

    I must say I enjoyed reading this thread, and I had no intention of posting until I reached #58.

    ** TONIGHT!! **
    In side-by-side STEEL CAGES!!

    What scotches have you tried?

    There are some amazing ones, FYI, I will leave it at that.

    Oh, and as your average American that enjoys the brown, I contend that my enjoyment of scotch does not come at the expense of the Irish, Kentuckians, Tennesseeans or even Canadians!

    As an American, am I being disloyal to Scotland when I drink Jameson’s? …I drink it often 😉

  • JZ Murdock says:

    I’ve been a big fan of Jamesons for many years, first drinking it when I was younger. I tried Bushmills a couple of years ago and was surprised to find I liked it a lot, too. Redbreast was a recent taste and I liked that a lot.

    This is an interesting thread and I have a few more now to try.

    As for the religious differences, it’s always been easier for those not in the mess (in the US, England) to say and perpetuate things over that of those who have to suffer the views and manipulations of outsiders.

    I was raised Catholic by my mother after the parents divorced when I was three. I grew up thinking I was half Czech and half Irish Catholic. I remember back in my younger days hearing of the Troubles and feeling for those involved and I felt mostly for the Catholics. I no longer consider myself Catholic, btw.

    In later years I looked more into my family history and came to realize that my Father’s family were local Baptists and my Mother’s were Czech Catholics. So, I figured then maybe I was Protestant Irish?

    Talk about confused. All in all meaning, were I to have gone to Ireland to visit, my relatives would probably have been more confused than was I.

  • G mac says:

    I would wager that half the comments are from people that have never been to Ireland–if I drink vodka does this make me a communist -no! so stop bringing religion into alcohol–drink what you like and leave the bigotry at the door–if people spent a few hours getting to know each other over a drink we wouldn’t have half the discrimination we have today.

  • Patrick – Irish whiskey tends to be a lighter style of whiskey than Scotch or American whiskies, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily lower in quality.

  • Patrick Collen says:

    With regard to Powers Gold Label: I bought a bottle last week after reading about how decent a drink it was. In my opinion, it’s one of the blandest, albeit smoothest, whiskeys I’ve tasted. You’d be hard to convince me it is 40 proof, much less 80. The cheap Evan Williams Black Label at half the price (in the USA)has more taste and more of a ‘kick’. Granted, I don’t mix my whiskey with Coke or Ginger Ale, so perhaps I’m missing the best “presentation” of Powers Gold Label.

  • Colm McCullagh says:

    Foinah…You nailed it. The town of Bushmills is a black hole.

  • Foinah Jameson says:

    This is wayyyy late, and I apologize, but the record needed to be set straight.
    It was the anti-Catholic hiring practices that Bushmills employed in Northern Ireland that fueled the snub.

    Catholics represented the “unstable Republican persona” and therefore the company hired few people from the catholic areas. Trust me on this.

    While John Jameson was most likely a Protestant, his distillery in Dublin represented the “Free State” mentality and did not suffer from bigoted hiring practices.

    It all comes down to politics in the grand scheme of things, be you Yank or Paddy. However, it’s all moot now as the French reap the profits in the end 😉


  • The Highlander says:

    Jameson, Bushmills, Tullemore, Red Breast, Powers…

    Well, being of Scots-descent, I’ll take one of each.

  • Dave Clark says:

    I just brought some Tyrconnell 10-year port cask aged home from duty free – it is delicious.

  • Martin says:

    Michael Collins is a newcomer to the market place. About 5 or 6 years ago they flooeded Irish bars with it just before St. Paddy’s Day,almost forcing bars to sell off a lot of free stock they received. Produced at Cooley for Sidney Frank, it appears to have been geared mainly for the American market. Very sweet (like the inside of a burnt marshmellow). Have heard that Jim Beam (the new owners of the Cooley distillery) may discontinue production on contracted whiskies such as this in order to focus squarely on putting Kilbeggan up against Jameson, Bushmills & Tullamore Dew. However, this is just a rumor, but I did hear it from a pretty reliable source in the industry back in Ireland.

  • jay says:

    not one mention of Michael Collins?


  • Martin says:

    I had the 15yr old Kilbeggan during a visit at the Cooley distillery a few years back, and it was damn tasty. Not sure if it is available outside of Ireland, but if you can, get a hold of a bottle.

  • Cyn says:

    Anyone try Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey? As of late, it’s been my favorite — it has rich barley notes that leave my palate craving more. Jameson is always a great go-to, easy and smooth. Redbreast IS great for sipping (especially for the price) and Powers Gold is fine too. If you guys can get your hands on Kilbeggan, it will not disappoint…I only recently discovered it and thought I’d share. Sweeter, rich with barley, and perfect with one ice cube. Cheers!

  • Martin says:

    Corvallisbarman is half right. It is Bushmills that supplies single malt (The Old Bushmills Distillery is the only one of the three in Ireland that distills only triple distilled single malt whiskey, while the Midleton Distillery produces grain & pure potstill spirit and Cooley produces double distilled single malt, grain & potstill), as well as doing the bottling for Jameson, Powers & Paddy’s (All from Midleton, along with Red Breast, Greenspot & Tullamore Dew). In return, Bushmills receives grain whiskey from both Midleton & Cooley. The three also exchange used casks, when need be, if they have extra. There is a rivalry, to be sure, but it is all about business, and not about religion.

  • Jameson has distilled fine Irish malt which has been then sold to Bushmills to use as a blend all of the way through the most controversial of times of Irish English relations to current. Ireland is %110 united in whiskey.

  • Jim O'Dhalaigh says:

    @Eamonn: always good to hear from a Dubliner. Love Black Bush but Jameson’s Gold Reserve gets my vote as the very best I’ve had. Powers is my number one as the “every day” Irish whiskey of choice.
    @Matt: sorry to hear about religious intolerance in West Virginia but this is a discussion about the distilling history of Irish whiskey, not moonshine.

  • Matt says:

    Eamonn, I thought all that was in the past and your country moved on? I must have been misinformed. I do drink whatever. My post was simple stating that the problem still exists. I can see you have been horribly scared by the conflict. You are a great person to forgive and forget the horrible crime that were personal committed against you. I do live in a Hicktown. The good news is I don’t have to worry about car bomb in Hicktown. Good luck and god bless Hun.

  • Eamonn says:

    The situation is ridiculous. Get over it and drink what you feel. And I obviously know alot about it being from Ireland and the horrific scenes of the troubles. Car bombs, kidnappings, murders, protests, etc. I think it’s alot worse than some backward hick town in yankeeville. lol

  • Matt says:

    If you are not an active Catholic or Protestant.
    You wouldn’t really understand the depth of the situation.
    If you don’t beleive in god the whole situation would appear ridiculous. I’m an American Catholic raised in the bible belt, West Virginia to be exact. West Virginia is the only U.S state where you can legally handle venomous serpents to prove your faith. Most protestant in my area have a real problem with Catholics. My wife’s grandmother an active protestant would not let me in her house due to my faith. I don’t know about Ireland, but in some parts of the U.S there still major problems.

  • Eamonn says:

    I prefer the taste of Bushmills as it’s smoother where Jameson is a sharper taste.

    And it really is an Irish American thing to take to finding out which is protestant and catholic lol.

    I can guarantee no one here in Dublin or Ireland gives a crap either way.

  • Seán Ó Ceallacháin says:

    Though Jameson is currently distilled in lovely Cork, it was actually founded and first distilled in Dublin. As a proud Corkonian, I feel the need to set the record straight.

  • Marty says:

    The spelling of whisk(e)y is actually a bit up in the air as far as that pesky “e” goes. Not all American or Irish whiskies spell the word with an “e”…like Maker’s Mark, George Dickel, Old Forester, Early Times or Paddy spell the word w-h-i-s-k-y. However, it is generally accepted that the catagory, as a whole, is spelt that way as well.

  • danny boy says:

    As an irish american raised in an irish roman catholic family I can say this:
    Those of us that still drink enjoy guinness as our beer
    Irish for the whiskey
    Potatoes for supper
    Love a pleanty
    And as our clan motto states “commit thy work to god”

    So have a pint, pull, prayer, and let’s party.

  • Fred says:

    I noticed a little uncertainty about spelling in the story. “Whiskey” is Irish, whatever brand (or religion), followed by Americans (as in bourbon whiskey etc.). “Whisky” is Scotch, followed by Canada.

  • Jim O'Dhalaigh says:

    Terrific reading. History matters — which is why the Catholic/Protestant thing is relevant. Fact: the worst atrocities in the Irish struggle for freedom were perpetrated by the Irish on each other — and were not likely fueled by religious affiliation but the politics of the time. In true Irish US tradition, my son is a cop and we will drink any Irish whiskey — all of which are superior to Scotch.

  • Marty says:

    Dean – well said!

  • Dean says:

    This must be one of the most pointless debates I have seen in a long time.

    I grew up in a so-called Protestant area in west County Down where nobody really cares what you are. I still live there.

    I sincerely doubt that there are too many Irish Catholics who care about the religion attached to what they drink. There will always be a few zealots who do, but from my knowledge, both Bushmills and Jamesons are enjoyed by people of both faiths.

    Rabble Rouser, Bushmills is not ‘total UFV (sic) territory’ in the slightest. It is true to say it is an almost exclusively Protestant village, but otherwise it is a quiet rural area on a picturesque coastline, visited annually by thousands of tourists from both side of the divide. It was largely untouched by the Troubles and paramilitaries. I could be fairly sure the master distiller was hired because he was good at distilling whiskey and not because they needed to hire a Catholic. Utter nonsense.

    This works in the same way that Protestants love their Guinness just as much as Roman Catholics – in fact, I know a lot of Catholics who never drink the stuff. Both sides here will gradually realise that they have more in common with each other than they do with folk in ROI or England, that’s been my experience.

    Drink is one thing that unites Ireland – it is shocking to see that some, primarily in the US, try to politicise it. The overwhelming majority of people in Ireland just want to get on with their lives, as they have always done and forget about this petty conflict.

  • Rabble Rouser says:

    I was born in West Belfast and I can tell you, that most Catholics prefer Jameson’s.

    I’ve been to the area that Bush Mill’s in manufactured and it’s total UFV territory.

    If they do in fact have a Catholic Master Distiller, he is probably just the token worker.

  • Dick Choke says:

    In the tv show “The Wire” McNulty made a comment about not drinking that “fucking Protesant whiskey” when asked by Bunk why he always drank Jameson’s.

  • Jack says:

    Another tip of the hat to answer #34.

    Having just visited Ireland, I spent time in both the north and the ROI. I even stayed in what was one of the hotbed cities during the troubles.

    Never once was I presented with a this is the north, or this is Ireland like many seem to believe in the States.

    To those who want to talk about Catholic vs Protestant issues, at least go visit the country before assuming anything.

    I am still cradling my Bushmills 12 yr Distillery Reserve Whiskey. What a great treat.

  • Davy says:

    Hi and i take my hat off to Rob Mchardy answer 34..more people should be like you and the world would be a nicer place,anyway there is only one kind of whisky,the answer is in the spelling.

  • holly jackson says:

    red breast is my favorite single pot still whisky!! best bang for your buck for a sipping whisky.

  • Marty says:

    Yes, it is me and I have returned.

  • Kevin Erskine says:

    Marty D. Is that you? Still in Ireland?

  • Marty says:

    The make up of the folks who work at Bushmills reflects the religous makeup of Northern Ireland – roughly 40% Roman Catholic. The Master Distiller, Colum Eagan, is indeed a Catholic himself and comes from Co. Laois in ROI. The 1608 license is not “marketing shite”, but did refer to the area of the town of Bushmills. there was thought to be up towards 25 distilleries in this town at one time. Many of these came from the grain mills along the Bush River, where the current distillery stands today. The big difference between the two whiskies has nothing to do with religion, which is silly and, in some respects, rather ignorant. Jameson is a blended potstill whiskey (malted + Unmalted grain blended with grain whiskey). Bushmills is produced from 100% malted barley and grain whiskey (which it receives from the Midleton Distillery in Co. Cork where Jameson is made). For this reason, Bushmills has a bigger flavor, while Jameson has a much lighter flavor. Upon this one should decide which whiskey they prefer, and not upon any religous matter. It is about the spirit in the bottle, not in a church. This kind of stupidity makes us look like clowns in the eyes of most real Irish.

  • Bobby says:

    Redbreast is my favorite but I only buy a bottle or so a year. I generally have several bottles of Irish on hand. Right now Redbreast, Bushmills 10yr Single malt ( drinking neat as I type), Jameson and Michael Collins Blend. I am also a fan of Tullemore and Black Bush. Though I like all of the ones mentioned above more. For a blend, I am really impressed with the Michael Collins. Never been a fan of the Powers.

    To comment on a few posts above: I am of Irish descent and remember hearing the “Protestant Whiskey” comments as a kid growing up in New England(I am 50 now). Also, I understand that corned beef and cabbage is not a traditional Irish meal but it is a traditional Irish American Meal, particularly in the North East. I serve it in Texas to my St. Patrick’s day guests and several times a year otherwise.
    A few years ago during a trip to Ireland we had dinner at the home of some relatives. We were served……corned beef and cabbage with California wine and a shot of Paddy cut with Bailey’s after dinner. Memories…

  • Austin says:

    Jeffrey: Your site is awesome!

    There’s a scene in season 3 of The Wire that went right over my head: McNulty asks the bartender for a Jameson, and the bartender asks “is Bushmill’s ok?” McNulty comes back with “aw, that’s Protestant whiskey!” Grudgingly, he accepts, but asks for it “neat”. That’s where I paused it and jumped on to google to figure out exactly what “neat” meant, which lead me to this article of yours:

    Then I spent another 20 minutes clicking around at random on your site, and then I ended up at this article, neatly explaining the first part of the joke.

    My hat is off to you, for your spookily informative collection of posts.

  • Andrew says:


    To my certain knowledge and as am employee of Bushmills (and a Catholic by birth, but an atheist by choice), you are entirely mistaken.

    Nevermind the fact that it would be illegal in UK law. We don’t live in the dark ages anymore, though clearly prejudice and ignorance persist…


  • Jack says:

    Funny. Shortly after reading this post I dropped by Mortons to see a bartender friend.

    He said, “Shot?”

    I go, “Any Irish Whiskey will do”

    “You will love this stuff.” -as he grabbed the Red Breast off the shelf.

    I did love it.

  • Bobby says:

    Bushmills does not, to my certain knowledge, employ Catholics as certain industries/companies are, let us say, ‘reserved’ for one tribe or another in the Black North. It is the oldest licensed distillery by 200 years and was once owned by a Belfast barman who – get this – was a teetotaller and secretly wrote religous tracts damning the Demon Drink!
    Jameson’s one-time MD (CEO in the USA) was Andrew Jameson. He was, I believe, top dog in the Orange Order: the vehemently anti-Catholic organization whose best-known figure is the frightening demagogue the Rev. Ian Paisley MP, Euro MP and MLA; universally known ‘Doctor No’.

  • Cogsworthy says:

    You claim that it is an Irish-American phenomenon, however up in the six counties Catholics drink Jameson and Prod-Brits drink Bushmills – there is even a bit of violence attached to it.
    Spose its kinda like Rangers (hoik-phew) and Celtic FC really.

  • Mark Davis says:

    Colum Egan (Master Distiller of Bushmills) is himself a Catholic. John Jameson was Pentecostal.

    One more thing… Since Pernod Ricard shut down the grain stills at the old Bushmills distillery, all of the grain whiskey in Bushmills is from Middleton!

    All of this is just silly, Ireland is totally united in the bottle.

    The full like of Bushmills (and a couple of other Irish whiskeys) will be available for sampling at Whiskies of the World on March 27th. Check it out:

  • Drago says:

    My grandmother preferred Bushmills (on ice, with a large splash of water).

    And since I inherited her mother’s sideboard, now repurposed as the bar in my den, I shall drink Bushmills tonight.

  • G M Brinkman says:

    When Tug McGraw was interviewed after winning the world series in 1980, they asked him what he was going to spend his series winnings on. He said he was going to spend 90% of it on women and Irish whiskey and the other 10% he was going to waste!

    Have an O’Hara’s Red and a Jamison on me. Happy St Patty’s Day.

  • Jamie O'neal says:

    I like Jamesons….and…I like Bushmills…and…I like Tullamore Dew….and I don’t care if they’re made by Indonesian monks that hate my mother…they’re just tasty.

  • paddy hirsch says:

    To complicate the issue even more, Bushmills has been owned by a big drinks corporation since 1972 (first Irish Distillers, now Diageo), but before then it was owned by a Scottish Jew!

  • Albert says:

    Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Not one of ya mentions Knappogue Castle. In particular – the 1951 offering of which I’ve never tasted its superior. Mind you the order as I see it goes – Knappogue ’51 > Midleton Rare > Knappogue 15 > Redbreast > Black Bush > Knappogue ’92 > Tullamore Dew (makes for the best Irish Coffee) > Then take your pick of the Jamesons/Bushmills/Cooley offerings. But generally, if you like it sweet, you like Jamesons products (including Redbreast, 1780, and Powers) If you like it dry, you’ll prefer the Busmills lineup. And if you just like something different – then Cooley’s your distillery (though that Michael Collins stuff is shite).

    My two farthings on the matter. 😉

  • Rob McHardy says:

    Holy moly,
    I’m an Irish barman and I am stunned by the ignorant waffle that some Irish Americans spew about the “‘oul sod”.
    These two fine whiskeys should be enjoyed in a glass and not on some pseudo-religious podium.
    DONT EVER ask an Irish person , north or south if they are catholic or protestant because they will look at you with contempt.
    If you want to support Ireland, go and visit and maybe read a few history books and hopefully realise that most normal people don’t give a toss about religious leanings

  • Edward says:

    No votes for Dunphey’s? Hmmm.

  • Patrick says:

    Oh, don’t be a hater, just drink both.

    In Ireland they’d drink either, but rarely had enough money for more than a pint ‘o the local beer.

    I’d suggest Tullamore Dew, it was founded by Catholics and is still owned by a nice Irish Catholic company.

    As the Protestants had pretty much a stranglehold over all shipping in the country, they refused to ship Dew in favor of the Protestant-produced Jameson.

    Such days are long over, and Dew is rapidly making up the difference in sales, and has already overtaken Jamison in may countries in Europe.

  • Oh and Bushmills was NOT licensed to distill in 1608…That’s marketing Bullshit. There were licenses to distill granted in and around the Bushmill’s area in 1608.

  • Not enough time to read through comments. But until 2005 BOTH distilleries were owned by Pernod-Ricard.

  • Andrew says:

    Hi all, please don’t reinforce past troubles by making brand choices based on hatred. I lived through this and lost people to it, and it saddens me to read this.

    Bushmills is a great whisky celebrating an important anniversary this year with an updated look that will appear in late 2009. Jamesons too is lovely.

  • Cielo Gold says:

    Thanks for the clarification. I was wondering this myself.

  • D, Muldoon says:

    Mmmm…..Middleton distillery….
    While Redbreast is great, wonderful stuff, don’t ever pass up a chance to sample their self-titled Middleton. Just don’t do anything silly like order it on the rocks…it’s way too good for that. Paid 10 Euro for a shot of it in Dublin, and well worth the price.

  • d.clark says:

    Dear sir, I know you did a bit on”Sangrita”, but I was wondering if you have a good recipe for Sangria. I am going to be the bartender at my college prom, and need a drink that will be popular with “the kids”…

  • Jenny Adams says:

    Here’s the real question – why does everyone insist on handing us shots of jameson late night in colorado? is that a catholic thing?
    Also – how does Navan end up in a Heineken? Is Misty protestant?

    Surley in Alabama

  • Bill says:

    I’m a Redbreast man first when feeling flush, but usually turn to Power’s or the old John J when cash flow is normal.

    Paddy is pretty readily available in the New York Metro Area, but I’ve never seen it since I left for warmer climes.

    Bushmills I like, but I like Irish Whisky best of all the brown stuff. I don’t generally buy it, but I’ll drink it without complaint. The regular is fine; the Black Bush is nice if maybe too refined for me when I want a dram of Irish.

    But the Bushmills Distillery Reserve, a bottle of which my very, very good sister recently brought back as a gift from Belfast, is holy smoking delicious good.

    And, no, I won’t share.

  • Greg in SF says:

    “No one here has a soft spot in their heart for Paddy’s?”

    I do.

    Bad Catholic that I am, I always drank Bushmills over Jameson. The Protestant/Catholic thing was explained to me as a labor dispute where a bunch of Catholic Derrymen were laid off from the Bushmill’s distillery or some shite.

    Currently, I go though a case of Jameson for every bottle of Bushmills that we sell at our bar. Whoever owns Paddy’s also owns one of these bigger brands and wont export to the US because they know they would cannibalize their own market share.

  • Phill says:

    I think Paddy’s may be even rarer in the US than Powers. I’ve never even seen a bottle of Paddy’s (although I haven’t really been making an exhaustive search).

  • dawoo says:

    No one here has a soft spot in their heart for Paddy’s?

  • Michael Robertson says:

    Wow, not one mention of Tullamore Dew. It has been my favorite since discovering it at the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco. It was their house label Irish before it was readily available in the US. I went to the Distillery in Tullamore(now a museum for the whiskey), it is now produced in Middleton, although it is no longer owned by Pernod-Ricard. Great smooth flavor and a soft long finish. I think Irish whiskey is like Scotch, meant for sipping, not mixing.

  • Tim says:

    Thanks, Mike. I should have thought of other whisk(e)y cocktails when typing that last thought. I’ve used Irish Whiskey in Old Fashions and Sours before with tasty results. I’ll have to try a Manhattan next.

  • Ted Munat says:

    Regarding the Catholic/Protestant/Jewish/Corn Beef relationship…

    Man is walking down the street in Belfast. Robber jumps out of an alley, holds up a gun, and says, “Are you a Protestant or a Catholic?” Man says, “Neither, I’m a jew.” Robber thinks for a moment, says, “but are you a Protestant Jew or a Catholic Jew?”

    Alternate version:

    “are you a Protestant or a Catholic?”
    “neither, I’m a Jew.”
    “Then I must be the luckiest Arab in all o’ Ireland!”

  • Mike S. says:

    Tim, I made a great Manhattan variation last night with 2oz Powers Gold Label, 1oz Carpano Punt E Mes and a dash or two of Angostura (regular, not orange), stirred up with a cherry garnish and enjoyed it very much indeed. No coffee or anything green.

  • Tim says:

    I will second the Powers recommendation to add some turf to the fire. Although, when faced with only Jameson and Bushmills, I will usually go for the Bushmills. I find Jameson to be a bit too… sweet, I guess. Redbreast makes for good sipping but for my budget Powers is my standby.

    I usually drink my whiskey neat but would anyone be able to recommend an Irish whiskey cocktail/mixed drink that doesn’t included coffee or a green liquid?

  • Kelsey Crenshaw says:

    “linseed oil is used on its own or blended with other drying oils, resins and solvents as an impregnator and varnish in wood finishing, as a pigment binder in oil paints, as a plasticizer and hardener in putty and in the manufacture of linoleum.” from wikipedia

    Michael Jackson
    Clean, fresh. hint of linseed. Nuts. Cake
    By far the biggest of this selection. Assertive and complex, with lots of development and seemingly infinite dimension. Ginger cake, brazil nuts, treacle
    Liquorice-like sherry notes
    Delicious, soothing, contemplative. A great whiskey. Makes me want to get on a plane to Dublin immediately.”

    “It’s like loving the smell of a sharpie or gasoline, in small way” Kelsey Crenshaw

  • ND says:

    This is mildly off topic, but does anyone else find Jameson to be similar in many ways to Wild Turkey bourbon?

  • Mike S. says:

    I love Redbreast and always have a bottle about, but based on some comments here I’ll definitely be picking up a bottle of Powers Gold Label

  • LB says:

    Not buying a certain brand of product because of centuries of English overlordship of Ireland is just so stupid on so many levels.
    So, so stupid. I am not trying to be offensive here, but really, it is just so dumb. Why not stop purchasing rum to protest Spanish aggression while you are at it. Or champagne to protest Frankish aggression against the Gallo Romans.

  • Philip says:

    And, fact fans, the space-age Middleton distillery in the far south makes the neutral alcohol for the blends produced at Bushmills up North. And a true story: as a young Dublin barman I was confounded by a true-blue Dubliner who asked for ” a large Shirley Bassey”. Yep, he was referring to a certain product from Bushmills…..

  • Phill says:

    I came to mention Powers- it seems my work is done. I got into Powers through my wife, ans she learned of it from Shane MacGowan(‘s music). Maybe not the best role model, but whaddaya gonna do?

  • Ciaran says:

    Yup, only the americans give a shit about this stuff anymore.

  • sku says:

    One further chapter in the history that really debunks this myth is that between 1972 and 2005, both Midleton (makers of Jameson) and Bushmills were owned by the same corporation, Irish Distillers. ID was purchased by Pernod Ricard in 1988 and they sold off Bushmills to Diageo in 2005.

    Multi-national corporations, of course, know no religious or other loyalty, except to the almighty dollar/pound/Euro.

  • John Claude says:

    When I lived in Providence, there was a lot of Powers drinking going on. I find it to be a little…thick? But there was a bar that had a shot of Powers and a Guinness for $7, so as you can guess I ended up drinking quite a bit of it. Though in the end, I do really prefer Bushmills. Never tried Redbreast for some reason. I’ll take one next time I’m out.

  • Beaumont – Funny, I thought of addressing that as I was wrapping up the post, but then thought, “Nah, the chuckleheads who read this website aren’t smart enough to draw that conclusion.” Guess I was wrong.

    As for those Tyrconnell expressions: major thumbs up.

  • Funny thing is, Jeffrey, that at the end of your debunking of the myth, you subtly reassert its validity in rightly noting that Bushmills is owned by Diageo, a company based in a largely Protestant country, while Jameson is owned by Pernod-Ricard, which is based in a predominantly Catholic country. Funny how these things work out, innit?

    Me, I’ll opt mostly for the great spirits of the independent Cooley Distillery, located just north of Dublin. Connemara Cask Strength is a real treat, and Greenore Single Grain is likewise enjoyable. And let us not forget the new cask finishes of The Tyrconnell…

  • MissMeaghan says:

    Funny, I also sought some info from a Bushmills rep when this controversy came up around St. Pattys day! Turned out not to be such a controversy. I’m redbreast girl too, but recently been sipping on the Bushmill’s 10, thought now I’m interested to try Powers Gold Label!

  • Shaun says:

    Is Redbreast coke or pepsi?

  • Darcy O'Neil says:

    Powers Gold Label for me, thank you very much. Said to be the favorite of the Emerald Isle too.

  • Jeff Frane says:

    Redbreast is wonderful, but spendy. Powers Gold Label is also wonderful and dirt cheap.

    If I was the kind of person who blogwhored, I would
    say more.

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