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Water of Life - Bushmills Irish

Whisky degustation at nel. Restaurant, Sydney, Australia

Full disclosure: Bushmills Irish Whiskey had not been on my radar, neither had been Sydney’s restaurant nel. which hosted this six-course whiskey inspired degustation, the pairings of which were carefully orchestrated by Chef Nelly Robinson – a chef whose trademark style is comprised of fusing contemporary and traditional technique.

Inspired by the tasting notes of Bushmills’ individual expressions, Robinson aimed at not only matching his creations with the distilled emissions but create new personalities through the mélange that is created by fusing both components.

So far, so good.

Proceedings were kicked off with a Bushmills Irish Whiskey cocktail on arrival, followed by Peppered venison, sorrel. A good start, which was accentuated by pairing brioche with duck fat butter.


The first highlight of the evening was the pairing of the sweet and rich Oloroso Sherry Casks matured Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey with beetroot crème brulee, vinegar popcorn. High in malt content, Bushmills Black Bush is an exercise par excellence in rich smoothness and it won me over from the get go.


Next up was Bushmills Single Malt Whiskey 10-year-old with burnt hay snapper, lemongrass, grape, charcoal. One could see the rationale behind Robinson’s pairing but the snapper struggled keeping up with the heavy honey and milk chocolate nuances of the 10-Year-Old.


The heavily sweet yet soft Bushmills Single Malt Whiskey 16-year-old is a thing of beauty and the pairing with whiskey and coffee beef, macadamia, onion cabbage only enhanced its flavours, however, pairing Bushmills Single Malt Whiskey 21-year-old with banoffee pie was were the evening peaked.


The overly malty 21 -year-old by itself unfolds a complex symphony with notes of raisins, spices, nuts and a bit of Sulphur but pairing it with banoffee pie elevated it to the next level.


The second highlight was the final course, i.e. the pairing of Bushmills Old Fashioned cocktail with smoky cheese.


An evening that not only highlighted why Ireland’s oldest licensed distillery is known for its signature style of smooth, malt-rich spirits, but also lend weight to the claim the whisky is underrated when it comes to not only complementing food or running danger of overpowering it, but elevates it and adds an additional dimension to it, which results in a flavor experience the total of which is more than the sum of its individual components would have you think.


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