January 17th, 1920 was a dry day indeed. The Prohibition of alcohol production, import, transport, and sale started on this day, one year after the passing of the 18th Amendment. The Prohibition period lasted for 13 years in the USA bringing with it the onset of bootlegging, organized crime, speakeasies, and expanded medicinal uses for alcohol. The impact was far reaching as Ireland, already losing business to the UK markets, lost its primary importer of whiskey. This period precipitated the downward spiral of the Irish Whiskey industry that would not be rekindled for almost 80 years.
While Ireland is thriving again with over 40 distilleries in operation, most opening in the past ten years, we can still remember the dark days through old recipe styles of Irish Whiskey. One such example is the Bushmills Prohibition Recipe Irish Whiskey. Bushmills is one of the few Irish distilleries to survive through the Prohibition era so it is appropriate that they offer this variety amongst their many expressions.
The Prohibition Recipe expression was released in 2022 to coincide with the final season of the tv show Peaky Blinders. This whiskey is meant to recapture the style prevalent at the time of the fictionalized Shelby family and their pub during the Prohibition era.
The whiskey differs from the standard White Bush offering aged in bourbon and sherry casks. Bushmills Prohibition Recipe contains 3, 4, and 5 year old whiskeys matured exclusively in bourbon casks. Non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% abv, the proof is higher than the standard Bushmill 40% offerings. The mashbill of this limited edition is not identified; however, other Bushmill blend offerings have the following single malt %: White Bush 45%, Red Bush 30%, and Black Bush 80%.
A criticism by some of Bushmills has been the range being limited to low abv offerings. The Prohibition Recipe provides the extra proof as well as traditional bourbon cask notes. The extra abv provides the added benefit of making this expression more suitable for use in cocktails than standard Bushmills.
Bushmills claims this is the way Irish Whiskey would have tasted during the Prohibition era. While unlikely anyone can offer definitive anecdotal proof or old bottles for comparison, you can still enjoy this expression while binge-watching the popular Netflix show. If you don't have the streaming network, this unassuming blend can still be enjoyed by those looking for a slight step-up from the original Bushmills but at a still affordable price.