Whisky Connosr

Bushmills Malt 21 Year Old Madeira Finish

Average score from 8 reviews and 17 ratings 91

Bushmills Malt 21 Year Old Madeira Finish

Product details

  • Brand: Bushmills
  • Bottler: Unknown
  • ABV: 40.0%
  • Age: 21 year old

Shop for this

What next?

  • Add to cabinet
  • Add to wish list
Bushmills Malt 21 Year Old Madeira Finish

This is the most premium of Bushmills whiskies - aged for 19 years in oloroso sherry and bourbon casks, then finished for another two years in Madeira casks. I've tasted this a couple of times, I believe the first time was courtesy of @Victor, then again at an Irish pub somewhere - I've always loved it but never really spent time with it. Apparently no more than 900 cases are released each year. This one is the 2018 release, bottle no. 03573.

The colour is a medium gold. On the nose this is very nutty - almonds, walnuts and red peanut skins. Dark grapes (and dark raisins too....and dark chocolate). I'm positive there is a hint of peat smoke in the background (they do peat their malt sometimes). Black liquorice. A touch of mint. Leathery. Ground espresso. Maltier and more herbal with water. Stunning.

On the palate - unbelievable. It is constantly changing from rich to fruity to sherried to nutty and back again. Where do I begin.... Brazil nut, liquorice all-sorts, coffee cake, vanilla bean, black cherry and green banana. Buttery. Luscious mouthfeel. Water brings all the sweet malt upfront. One of the greatest palates - if not the greatest - in Irish whiskey.

The long finish is smoky with cinnamon, beef stock and black pepper. Quite simply one of the greatest whiskies you will ever try, IMHO. I've been using the word elegant a lot in these Irish whiskey reviews, and this continues that theme admirably. Winner of Irish Single Malt of the Year in Jim Murray's 2020 Whisky Bible (for once he's right).

I have yet to taste a Bushmills single malt I didn’t enjoy. This one sounds magnificent!! Thanks for the review.

@BlueNote the high end stuff will always be the hardest to replace.

@talexander fortunately we have some bottles on hand to which to turn.


Being too old is the risk you should take if you don’t want to die young. Sipped twice – before and after a funeral. No water added.

Color – Gold. honey. Earth.

Nose – Fruits cake, still hot from the oven. Dried fruits – raisins, figs, apricots. Toffee. A piece of wet cloth that’s been left for too long. Rotten fruits. Vinous is the exact word for that, I guess.

Taste – Heavily sweet, yet a very soft palate. Dates and sour apricots. The raisins are still there but the is something fresh; fresh and juicy grapes. Yet again, the vinous cloud shadows the flowery and colorful nectar. I cannot say it isn’t pleasant, for there is always something appealing, and stimulating, in the dark essence of death– taking the shape of decomposition. This cloud, I now see it clearly, is what makes this nectar so irritating.

End – Soft and long. Muscat odors accompany this sweet farewell.

Older whiskeys might taste too ‘mature’, or ‘over the top’, and I am afraid this one has taken this path. Like some people do, some whiskies are just like that. I guess it is a function of storage conditions, or life style, or all other things that can happen from the second it is bottled and until it’s spilled on the ground. Bottom line - a fine nectar, preferably tasted before and not after funerals.


Irish whiskey, with a ‘E’ of course. Matured in Oloroso Sherry and Bourbon casks, before a two year marrying period in Madeira casks. Bottle no: 05938/2014.

The Madeira finish is spot on! It works really well for Bushmills. The 16 yo has a Port finish, for me that isn’t working at all. Ok, back tot he 21 yo. The price of this one is € 85,- really a bargain for this quality!

Deep amber color. Taste: richly flavored, toffee, chocolate, BBQ-raisins (really it’s in there), dates, white grapes, honeyed barley, oak, vanilla. Finish: dry, lingering notes of oak and BBQ-raisins. It keeps coming back. A complex whiskey and very well balanced.

At first I was dissapointed bij the 40% ABV, but I can imagine now that a 43% ABV could ruin the balance in the whiskey and spoil the delicate flavours. I’ll give the distillers the beneffit of the doubt that 40% ABV was only to enhance the tasting experiance, not the profits :)

Big big compliments to Bushmills fort his stunner, this is the Emperor of Ireland and a benchmark for all other whiskey’s. It’s a proud bottle standing out in my cabinet full of Scotsman. I've got two stashed away to enjoy for the years to come.

There is a big fan club for Bushmills 21 yo Malt, I among them. You may notise that Jim Murray has held Bushmills 21 yo as the Irish Single Malt Whiskey of the Year for multiple years in a row now. I only have one unopened bottle of it remaining, and sometimes I think that is not enough. Where I live it was sold at an insanely low price for quite a long time, and then suddenly, Poof!, all of the bottles of it disappeared from the shelf and have not reappeared for about 2 years now. Carpe diem.

@DutchGaelisch, I have given an enormous amount of thought to the 40% ABV of Bushmills 21 yo malt. I am inclined to agree with what I believe that you are saying that maybe it would be hard to keep the character of this particular whiskey at a higher abv. It would be enormous fun to be able to experience the smell and taste of Bushmills 21 at a variety of ABVs going up from 40% to 55%, wouldn't it? That would be an enormous treat.

As it stands at 40% ABV, the thought I have most often about Bushmills 21 yo malt is that it is just too easily drinkable, and that one can or could go through a bottle of this precious juice much too quickly!


This is the tasting notes from Master of Malt:

Nose: Rich toffee, honey, spiced fruit notes and dark mocha.

Palate: Chewy, dates, pecans, grapes and mango.

Finish: Sweet, syrupy pipe tobacco and mint.

I think this description is quite ok, so I will only add my personal thoughts on this. To be honest it was a long time since I had such a whisky moment! This whisky is near to perfect. The nose is exciting and you keep Finding new notes and when it comes to the palate it is just wonderful!! I have given it a full 25 points for the palate, and that really shows how good I find this whisky. It is bottled at 40% but still has so much to give. If you find a bottle I recommend you to buy it. I just ordered two more to save for the future....


No, there's no chocolate notes here, but the feel of a candy factory is very much present. This Irish whiskey is so full of fruit candy notes, it's almost like a fantasy. Like being in Willy Wonka's place. If this dram was music, it would be Roy Orbison’s Candy Man.

It was part of our local Irish whiskey tasting and won (Redbreast 15yo came close second). I scored it 95 points first but ended up making the score even one point bigger. And notice the taste, full 25 points. Not often a dram gets full points in taste by me.

This is a heavenly whiskey, the price tag is too but what can you say...it is a 21 year old great whiskey. Unlike with a mystery NAS, with this one, the price is more justified.

Nose: Starts with rubber and musty oak notes. Cereal notes are strong, like aromas from a crisp bread or some fresh hard (Finnish) rye bread. Bit fruity with some nice dark, roasted coffee buried deep on the back. Time and water add sweetness, hints of sugary marzipan and a spicy sherry twist.

Taste: Pure greatness – fruit candy with little hints of that sweet marzipan again (fortunately not overly sweet marzipan). Fresh peppermint drops develop over time. Water adds some creamy toffee and caramel notes. Surprisingly water makes it even better in every step, even though the ABV is "only" 40%.

Finish: Very smooth with nice small bitter notes. The oil feel is like velvet, cactus and grape notes rise up with some time in the glass and water. Tobacco is in the aftertaste too.

Balance: Great, amazing, rich – the best Irish whiskey I've ever had. In great balance, very versatile.

I must point out, that the score got bigger after the tasting with another sample from the same bottle, at home. The bottle was: 14483/2013

More details in my blog: whiskyrant.com/bushmills-21-year-old-rare-r…

Beautiful, beautiful whiskey. At silky smooth and 40% ABV, though, it is very easy to drink through a bottle.

Thanks for your review, @Rantavahti!


Bushmills prominently puts 1608, the date in which it received its license to distil, on its bottles. That is not entirely accurate, though. Bushmills was formerly registered as a distillery in 1794, almost 200 years later. It is true, however, that one of the first licenses was granted in 1608 to Thomas Philips (sometimes Phillipps) in County Antrim, where the distillery can be found. So it is nothing more than a marketing stunt. Their range showpiece is this 21 Year Old Bushmills, a vatting of bourbon and oloroso casks that, after at least 19 years of maturation, were re-casked into Madeira casks for a two year finish. The results is fabulous.

The nose is very soft and succulent. The influence of the Madeira is immediately obvious. Toffee, apricots, raspberries, creamy yoghurt, dried fruits and soft spices. Wonderful.

It is silky soft and juicy on the palate. Very sweet on apricots, cherries, but also dark touches of raisins, roasted almonds and marzipan.

The finish dies slowly, like a hearth that does not get stirred up anymore.

Rightfully considered the showpiece of Bushmills, for this is a wonderful whiskey to enjoy for hours on end. It leaves the rest of the range far behind. Pity that it has such a hefty price tag (around 140 EUR).

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Feel free to check out my video review at youtu.be/8miukYITWUM. Enjoy!

@markjedi1 Excellent review. I love watching the video reviews because a lot more can be said and one gets to hear the intonations and the specificities of what you're actually saying.


Bushmills 21 yo malt whiskey is aged in a combination of bourbon, oloroso sherry, and Madeira casks. The reviewed bottle is labeled Year 2011, # 4008.

Nose: wave after wave of subtle, magnificent, delicious wine and malt-related flavours. Smooth, silky, and refined. Flavourfulness and subtlety ebb and flow as you take each breath. Nothing in the way of a wine-finish nose could be improved upon here. This is already perfect. I could nose this for a week.

Palate: every beautiful element from the nose translates nicely onto the palate. This is slightly sweeter on the palate than in the nose. Delicious.

Finish: a nice gentle fade away like the embers of a fire dying. The whiskey keeps it virtues intact until the end.

Balance: Bushmills 21 yo demonstrates excellent balance, great complexity, and amazing refinement. This has immediately climbed onto my favourites list. I highly recommend Bushmills 21 to anyone who likes wine finishes and excellent noses.

Well I will say that I managed to acquire a bottle at Budget Bottle at a decent price (< $100) and have been very delighted.

I will say that it goes more or less neck and neck with Midelton Very Rare - the latter being somewhat lighter and more fruity but both are very Irish (seems to be a consistency in a certain taste in Irish whiskey from Tullamore Dew to Redbreast 12 to the Bushmill line.

Glad to see I am in good standing the the Victor!

Hope to be able to find a bottle here one day - in the meantime, I do have my Bushmills 16 which I will taste and review on Mar 17!


This reinvented by perception of Irish whiskey. Jameson was ok, Redbreast was a lot better--and quite unique--but this stuff...wow.

The nose starts off with a vast array of mouthwatering scents; the wine casks, grain, raisins, and candied fruit. After it opens a little, old wood and brown sugar are detected.

Sherry seems to be the first thing I notice on the palate, followed by fresh fruit; banana and cantaloupe. A little bitterness comes after followed by seaweed on the finish.

I have yet to try the 16 Year and the 1608, but if this remains the best, I think I found my Irish whiskey staple (I'll just have to trick my wallet whenever I need more).

As I mentioned on a Black Bush Review - This is my favorite Bushmills. However, I think Black Bush is a better value. This is better, but not so much better that I would pay up for it more than once or twice.

Also, I prefer this Bushmills over the 1608 400th year anniversary.

You can't go wrong with Bushmills though. The only time I haven't liked a Bushmills product is the end of the bottle of the 16 year old 3 wood. Something about that port finish at the very end of the bottle doesn't taste good to me. But that could be a personal preference for all I know. I noticed it at the end of 2 different bottles so It wasn't a fluke though.

RW - The 16 was very good until you reach the end.

To me, the biggest thing that stands out about the 16 is the port finish. I would highly recommend it to people who really enjoy a port finish.

Bottom line, if you like the other Bushmills products, I would give it a try. I don't think you will be disappointed. It is a fine whiskey for sure.

Popular Bushmills whiskies