Bushmills Distillery

The Bushmills Old Distillery Company was established in 1784, but like a number of distilleries, they play fast and loose with their history and claim the distillery was founded in 1608, which was allegedly the date that James VI granted the first licence to distil alcohol to a local landowner called Sir Thomas Phillipps.

Like many distilleries it went through times of prosperity and times of closure, eventually being purchased by a Belfast spirit merchant named James McColgan in 1860. The distillery was sold once again to Patrick Corrigan in 1880, the year that Gauntleys of Nottingham was founded.

America was a very important market for the distillery and other Irish whisky producers too, thus the distillery owned and operated a steamship called the SS Bushmills, which would deliver whisky to the cities of Philadelphia and New York City before heading on to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Yokohama. Obviously, the prohibition of the 1920’s hit the distillery hard but they continued production and when prohibition was finally repealed the distillery had a plentiful stock of spirit to export.

After the Second World War, the distillery was bought by Isaac Wolfson and, in 1972, it was taken over by Irish Distillers, who with the purchase of the distillery controlled the production of all Irish whiskey at the time. In June 1988, Irish Distillers was bought by French liquor group Pernod Ricard. The distillery was once again sold in 2005, this time to Scottish giant Diageo £200 million. In November 2014 they traded the distillery to the Mexican company Proximo Spirits Inc in exchange for the 50% of the Don Julio brand of tequila that Diageo did not already own.
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